Berlin - Alternative Guide Book

Berliner Luft - Various Information about the city

Adlon Hotel

No 1 Unter den Linden on the Parisier Platz, next to the Brandenburg Gate. It was built on the site of a town house built by Schinkel for Count Redern. Adlon was able to acquire the site because Count Redern had gambled away all his fortune to King Edward 7. of Britain, within a week. There were difficulties in building a new hotel, however, including the sacrilege of demolishing a building by Schinkel. Kaiser Wilhelm 2. took a personal interest and over-ruled any difficulties. This included his request for the adjoining British Embassy to sell off part of its garden, in order to be able to be able to build a decent-size hotel. The Embassy was thereby shut off from the Sun, and suffered air pollution from the hotel. After the First World War, the hotel employed female and male prostitutes. Despite war damage, the hotel managed to keep going until May 1945.

Air Ministry

Leipziger Strasse 5-7, Ecke Wilhelmstrasse. Built for Göring's Air Ministry, it survived the bombing because of its strength.

Alexanderplatz (Alex)

was previously dominated by the Police building. This opened in 1889 as the third-largest building in Berlin - it was four-storied and had a street frontage of about 500m.

Altes Kammergericht

now the Berlin Museum. ETA Hoffman was a judge here, and in 1819 he found Jahn not guilty, when he was brought before the court by the increasingly reactionary authorities.

Anhalter station

Originally opened in 1841, with a train pulled by the first Borsig locomotive. It was greatly extended by Franz Schwechten during 1874-80 into a major station.

It was planned to be pulled down by Hitler, and relocated south of Tempelhof, which was to be the starting point for a broad boulevard to the center of the city.

When Soviet soldiers reached here on April 30. 1945, the SS blew up the locks on the Landwehrkanal, drowning civilians and wounded soldiers who were sheltering in the S-Bahn station, in the process.

It was finally demolished on 27. August 1961 (apart from a small section), amidst major protests.


refused to award any stars to any of the monuments put up by Kaiser Wilhelm 2, which apparently deeply offended him.


The Bauhaus was originally set up in Weimar 1919, combining the Saxon Academy of Arts and the Saxon school of arts and crafts. It moved to Dessau in 1925 and after Gropius resigned in 1928, came under the control of Hannes Meyer. Meyer's left-wing views were disliked by the authorities in Dessau and he was replaced in 1930 by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. It moved to Berlin in 1932, but was closed down the following year. Van der Rohe re-generated the idea in Chicago (Chicago Institute of Design).

Bayerisches Viertel

West of Martin Luther Strasse. Until 1933, it was also known as Jewish Switzerland. Einstein lived here at Haberland Strasse 5 (Nördlinger Strasse 8)


see Opernplatz

Bellevue Palace

Built for Prince August Ferdinand, the brother of Friedrich 2, in 1785. Rebuilt after the war as a residence for the West German president.


Botanical Gardens, Lichterfelde

Constructed during a time when the Kaiser was copying Britain - it was built to rival Kew Gardens.


Originally occupied by an open-air ice rink, between the Europa Center and the Gedächtnis Church. Now occupied by a fountain (Wasserklops).

British Embassy

This was acquired as the result of the financial collapse of the previous owner in the crash of 1873. ( see also Gründerjahren and Adlon Hotel )


see Trümmerberge


The Castle was demolished after the War, but occupied a central site on the Spreeinsel. After the First World War, it was occupied by mutinying sailors.

Cecilienhof Palace

Venue of the Potsdam Conference, after World War 2. It is a copy of an Elizabethan manor house - it was built for the Crown Prince in 1913-1916. He actually did live there from 1923, and was still there in 1945.


This opened in January 1939 along the full length of Voss Strasse.


The Charite grew from a plague house of 1710. In 1726 it became a Lehrstatte, teaching in the German language - up until then it had been normal to teach in Latin or French.

Charlottenburg Palace

Badly damaged in the War. Restored thru the 1950s and the 1960s.


The hall was re-built for the Olympics. Today it is still a premier exhibition center.


lies along the line of the Wall. It was here that in the 1930s a tram fell into workings for a U-Bahn line.

East -West axis

One of the pieces of Hitler's grand plan that was actually carried out. This is a great 13 km. way between the Alexanderplatz and the Olympic Stadium, originally lined with Nazi flags. It is composed of Unter den Linden, Charlottenburg Chaussee, Bismarck Strasse, Kaiserdamm, Heerstrasse. It was originally constructed in time for the Olympics, but intended to be used for military displays and the like.

To make way for Nazi banners on the Linden, the lime trees were cut down, but because of adverse reaction, the trees were replaced with young saplings.

The road was officially opened on April 19 1939, the day before Hitler's 50th. birthday.

During the war German aircraft were capable of using this road as a landing strip., but a major drawback was that enemy aircarft were able to use this road as a useful marker into the City Center, necessitating large-scale camoflauging.

Currently used for the mass start of the Berlin Marathon.

(see Siegesäule)


Originally built as a focus for the western area of Berlin, by Franz Schwechten. Claimed by many to be one of the few buildings to have been improved by being bombed. It was consecrated in its original form on Sedan day 1895, and was dedicated in its new form in 1961.

Gedenkstätte of Socialism

in Lichtenberg. Memorial centered originally around the graves of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht. Desecrated by the Nazis, as a result of which the bodies of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht have disappeared.

Socialist Memorial, Berlin

Rosa Luxemburg's "grave", flanked on the left by that of Ernst Thälmann, murdered by the Nazis in a concentration camp, August 1944. The flowers from this picture of August 1993, commemorate the anniversary of this event.

Socialist Memorial, Berlin
Socialist Memorial, Berlin


Copy of the Piazzi del Popolo in Rome. It is flanked by French and German cathedrals.


The name for Hitler's re-developed Berlin, designed by Speer and due to be completed by 1950. Main features included a boulevard between Tempelhof and Center, and an East-West axis. In Tempelhof, there was to be a massive triumphal arch containing the names of all who died in the First World War (excluding Jews etc). At the North end there was to be a massive congress hall seating 150,000. The official model of this design still exists in the Berlin Museum.

Gestapo / SS Headquarters

Previously the wall cut off the bottom of Wilhelmstrasse and the West therefore had the possession of the Gestapo / SS headquarters.

Gestapo Headquarters

The grounds of the Gestapo / SS headquarters. The building in the background is Goering's Air Ministry, behind a still-existing section of the Wall


The years after the Franco-Prussian war and the establishment of the new unified German state (The Second Reich) were known as the Gründerjahren. It suffered a major setback in the stock market crash of 1873. As always, not everyone suffered - the British Government took advantage of the situation to buy Wilhelmstrasse 74-76 as their embassy. It has just been completed for the railway owner Strousberg, who had then gone bankrupt.


was formerly known as the Spandauforst

Hitler's Bunker

When the wall was standing, the Bunker was previously situated in the No-man's Land visible from the Potsdamer Platz viewing platform, and was marked by a mound.


Trummerberg in Schöneberg which received its name because of a memorial to Günter Neumann which was placed there in 1972. He had been the star of a radio comedy shoe called Die Insulaner.

Karl Liebknecht Haus

Rosa Luxemburg Platz. The headquarters of the Communist party.

Built in 1910, but destroyed in World War 2. It was rebuilt in 1949 with an altered facade and extra storey. The building had been used by the KPD since 1926. It was closed by the Nazis on 23 February 1933, who took it over on 28 February of the same year. From 8 March 1933, the Gestapo and Police used it as an interrogation and torture center. Since December 1989, it has been occupied by the PDS.

Karl Liebknecht was murdered in 1919, near the bank of a lake in the Tiergarten.

Köpenicker Blutwoche

June 1933. 500 socialists seized, transported to the SA HQ ( a former Reichsbanner office) and prison. Tortured and 91 murdered . Their bodies were thrown into the River Dahme.


was used, until 1890 by the army to exercise their horses between the Tiergarten and the Grunewald. Bismarck had decided to copy the Champs Elysees, which connected the center of Paris to the Bois de Boulogne. In the end, the Kudamm was only half the width of the Champs Elysee. By turn of the century it had been overtaken as the most fashionable address - the Grunewald was becoming more fashionable.

Kuhle Wampe


on the Linden, was built by Ernst von Ihne - he had the brief to build it larger than the reading room of the British Library. The Kaiser was delighted, but apparently its size meant that it was extremely cold during the winter, and also the dome magnified even the smallest sounds.

Lichtenstein Bridge

where Rosa Luxembourg was shot. A small memorial tablet now exists there. Lichtensteiner Bruecke plaque underneath.


Otto Lilienthal


Kaiser Wilhelm had grand schemes for the Linden, which involved demolition of the Opera House. The First World War put a stop to these plans.

Rosa Luxemburg

was held and beaten in the Eden Hotel ( which stood opposite the entrance to the Zoo ) prior to being murdered at the nearby Lichtenstein Bridge (11. January 1919). (Kranachstrasse)


Belle Alliance Platz Vorwaets

Military History

Friedrich Wilhelm 1 created a 10 hectare exercise place in the Tiergarten, where , until 1850, there took place the grand annual review of of Berlin regiments. This great expanse of sand was christened the Sahara by the Berliners.

Friedrich Wilhelm's favorite soldiers were his Giant Guards , the Lange Kerle who were all over 1.9 meters tall. His press gangs were sometimes over-zealous and/or extremely dedicated. They even kidnapped an Irishman, James Kirkman, in London, resulting in the expulsion of the Prussian ambassador from Britain. ( Admitedly, the British Government had also sent Friedrich Wilhelm several Irish giants in order to curry his friendship. James Kirkman however remained with the Guard until it was dissolved by Friedrich 2, after which he became a palace servant.

Friedrich Wilhelm (along with Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Dessau) are credited with introducing marching and drilling into the modern army. Previously it had been unknown since the time of the Roman Empire. During the reign of Friedrich Wilhelm, there were several army mutinies, and attempts to burn down Potsdam.

Museum Island

Original idea of Friedrich Wilhelm 4. The pergamon Museum was constructed between 1912 and 1930.


Would have been originally built as a wooden church around about the end of the 12. century. An adjoining cemetery, with 90 graves, was found and excavated by archaelogists - this was probably about 30 years older than the church.


Night of the Long Knives

the SA was bringing disorder to the streets of Berlin. President Hindenburg and the army commander had warned Hitler that if he did not do something, they would. He acted on 30. June 1934. In Berlin, the operation was directed by Göring . SA leaders were taken to Gestapo HQ in Albrechtstrasse or the SS barracks in Lichterfelde (the former army cadet school). Over 100 SA members were shot.


After the Revolution, became a magnet doe Russian exiles. Many, if not all, shop signs etc. would be in Cyrillic.



Hitler had originally derided the Olympic movement, but soon became aware of its potential propaganda value.

The stadium was envisaged by Hitler as bigger and more impressive than any other previous Olympics. Prior to Hitler's rise to power, preparations had already been made to modify the stadium that had been built for the 1916 Olympics, but was obviously never used for that purpose. This had been sunk into the middle of Grunewald racecourse, and the modifications still had regard for the fact that it was in the middle of a racecourse and could not be too intrusive. Hitler solved this "problem" by abolishing the racecourse. The main stadium was to seat 100,000

Adjacent to the stadium, May Field took up 11 hectares and was planned to be used for future Nazi rallies.

see also the Deutschland Halle and the East - West axis.

Repression was eased for the period of the Olympics.


On 10. May 1933, 20.000 books were burnt in the then Opernplatz, later Bebel Platz, adjacent to the Opera House. Among the authors whose books were burnt were Thomas Mann, Stefan Zwieg, Erich Maria Remarque, Heinrich Mann, Albert Einstein, H.G. Wells, Jack London, Upton Simclair, Helen Keller, Andre Gide, Marcel Proust, Emil Zola, Sigmund Freud.

Book Burning on the Opernplatz

Palace of the Republic

Built from 1973-76 on Marx-Engels Platz, which had been empty for about twenty years.

Pergamon Museum

1878. For 30 years Karl Humann excavated a site at Pergamon which had been forgotten for about 300 years. The Pergamon Altar was joined in 1905 by the Gate of Miletus, built in AD 120 and destroyed in an earthquake in 1000.

A description of Pergamon In the last 2 centuries BC, Pergamon was probably the most beautiful and sophisticated city in the Mediterranean and became a Hellenistic city state. It was a Spa town and people went there for healing. If it had been nearer the it would have thrived much earlier. It had good defences, was set high up with a stream running on both sides. At itís height it was a wealthy city with a population of over 100,000.

First excavated in 1878 by one of the great archeological pioneers, Karl Humann and later by Derpfeld (who found Troy), both Germans (the Germans have completed 4 major excavations at Pergamon and a 5th if under way).

"Red Hall or Courtyard" - Temple for the Egyptian Gods It was originally a Temple of Serapis and was built, according to legend by thousands of sand bricks that went to the site by a great human chain. The temple has 2 towers - one now contains a mosque.

There are three main things to see here:-

The Upper Acropolis which was mainly Hellenistic and was adapted much during Roman times. It is the key to the city because it is so high. Here you will find Theatre The Greek Theatre is carved into the hillside and is very steep and dramatic. Here the Greek tragedies would be put on. However because of the sheer drop at one side there was no animal fighting. You get good views of the stage and a panoramic view. It has 80 rows of seats and can hold 10,000 people.

Great Altar - Also known as the Altar of Zeus. It was an impressive horseshoe shape but unfortunately all that it left is the altarís foundations. The rest is in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. It was said to be Karl Humannís greatest discovery and he is buried just below the Upper Agora, south of the altar.

The Gymnasium. There are 3 gyms - the large upper gymnasium was where young men trained and studied, the middle gymnasium was for teenage boys and the third was a childrenís playground. The gym was usually used for exercise such as throwing the discuss and javelin. Exercise was a central part of their way of life. Asklepieon was one of the great healing sanctuaries of Roman times - hospital complex - well worth visiting but best to drive there. Although the doctors were more of thought than medicine. Much of the treating was religious which involved the taking of the waters. It should take about an hour to walk round it.


Taken over by Goebbels for a giant party, hosted by him, during the Olympics. Used his film industry connections (he was head of the film industry) to deck out the island like a film set. Music was provided by the Berlin Philharmonic. Apparently it degenerated a bit into orgiastic activities.


a new prison was built whose purpose, according to Wilhelm 2 was : "in case the city of Berlin should ever break down and rise once more in impudent intemperance against its sovereign". Became Hitler's main execution center for his enemies.

Potsdamer Platz

On April 16. 1917, Karl Liebknecht was arrested for staging an anti-war rally. 50.000 workers turned out to support him.

Prenzlauer Berg

Corner of Kolmarerstrasse and Knaackstrasse in Prenzlauer Berg. Eight storey water tower disused, used as detention cente after after the Reichstag fire. Stormtroopers had run amok, breaking into homes etc. Reichstag Deputies had been arrested despite their immunity from arrest.


There was not a single Jewish officer in the Prussian Army between 1878-1910.

Emil Rathenau

Foreign Minister and member of the family who owned AEG, was assassinated on the corner of the Kudamm and Erdenerstraße. Of the five assasins, two died violently before they could be arrested and were given full military funerals. The other three served about four or five years in prison. (Rathenau, as head of the Office for War Material, allowed Deutschland to continue after the Schlieffen Plan had failed)


The Reichstag was a powerless organization during the Second Reich and neither Bismarck or Wilhelm 1 were apparently keen on the idea of it receiving its own building (although some sources also state that he was keen to have a building rivalling the Houses of Parliament in London. Up to then, it had been meeing in the old state porcelain factory. Bismarck had expressed the view that it should be moved to Potsdam, thereby becoming less dominated by representatives from Berlin.

Paul Wallot was chosen as the architect, from 183 people who applied.

The inscription << To the German People >> was added in 1916.

In 1922, Hugo Haase, leader of the Independent Socialists was shot dead on the steps of the Reichstag.

The Reichstag fire occured on 27. February 1933, and remains as a classic example of how hysteria can block out straight thinking. In the national elections a week later, the Nazis scraped through with the help of the Nationalists. Hitler locked up socialist deputies, in order to get the sufficient proportion of votes require to assume dictatorial powers.

The area in front of the Reichstag was originally built as the Königsplatz and was used as a parade ground until 1864 (formerly known as the 'Sahara').


The government area became part of East Berlin after the War - the Reichstag was (just) in in West Berlin.

Resistance to Nazis

Ring Vereine

Criminal gangs. They were portrayed by Brecht in his Dreigroschenoper.



Founded 1898. Organized an exhibition in the garden of the Theater des Westens, but soon moved to Kurfurstendamm 208. Showed Van Gogh long before he became well-known. It was officially disapproved of - according to the Kaiser, any officers who visited were to be punished.


The relief panels were removed at the end of the war, and taken to Paris. Two were returned in 1984, and the others in 1986.

Slavic Remnants

Slavic names which have remained from the time that the area was inhabitated by these people can be recognized by -ow or -au endings ( Pankow, Treptow, Prenzlau ). There is also the ungermanic stress on the last syllable of Berlin.

Soviet Embassy

In April 1918, a hammer and sickle was raised in front of the new Soviet Embassy on the Linden, complete with the message - << Workers of the World Unite >>.


has slavic finds

Spandau fortress

The Juliusturm (Tower) was used between 1871 and 1914 to store the German financial reserve in the event of war. Originally it was French reparations payments, supplemented later from domestic sources.

held deserters.


was originally forbidden by law, and watchtowers were set up to look out for illegal bathing. Eventually the authorities gave in - official bathing was allowed on the Wannsee in 1907 and the Müggelsee in 1912. The Wannsee can accomodate 50.000 people, and is the biggest inland beach in Europe.


of a bear, which is the city's emblem, is pun on the city's name.


was formerly Adolf-Hitler Platz, where Hitler also actually lived.


giant vegetable patch


The zoo in East Berlin. It was built with the help of the remains of bank buildings from the center of Berlin.

Tegel Airport

Built by the Americans for the Berlin airlift. It was built using 4 bulldozers and about 20,000 laborers.


latterly used for party rallies, by Speer. Protypes for Nuremberg rallies.


120 meters high.

Trojan Gold

The Gold which had been excavated by Heinrich Schliemann is now known to have been stored in the Zoo Bunker during the war from where it was appropriated by the Russians. It was originally thought to have been destroyed during the War, but turned up in the Pushkin Museum in Moscow.


The three main ones are Teufelsberg, Insulaner and Bunkerberg. They took 12 years to build.


By the end of the war, the population had been reduced from 4.3 m to 2.3 mi, two-thirds of whom were women. Thereofre the task of renovating the city fell initially to women - they were paid little but gained advantages with food rations. Their work had already started by 1. May, when the clearing of tempelhof airport had begun.


January 1942 - the final solution which resulted in the mass transportation of Jews from Berlin, finished by 27. February 1943.

Winged Victory of Samothrace

was stolen from the Louvre and kept in Hitler's study in the Chancellery.


Opened in 1844, the first in Deutschland. The gardens were laid out by Lenne. It was guarded by the Russian army just after the War, in order to stop the population from eating the remaining animals.

Berliner Luft - Various Information about the city

Brian Daugherty