2016 School Trip to Berlin

Starting point: Munich central station. As can be seen when compared to the scene when Hitler welcomed Mussolini during the Munich conference of 1938, nearly the entire area was destroyed by bombing. (wait for GIF to load)
At 9:30 a.m. on September 29, Hitler stood at the platform of the Kufstein train station, awaiting the arrival of his friend Mussolini. When Mussolini and Ciano stepped off the train, they greeted Hitler in their new uniforms, which were cut in the Nazi German style. Already in May, Mussolini had presented Hitler with the Italian version of the German goosestep, the “Passo Romano.” Mussolini and his entire entourage now sported the peaked cap which Hitler so cherished. Mussolini boarded Hitler’s special train, allowing the two friends to converse at leisure and without interruption on their trip to Munich. Ciano later recalled that it was at this point that they agreed “not to allow the conference to drift off to the problematic realm of dialectics and procedure, but rather to advocate a quick resolution.”  
Similar to his 1937 sojourn in Munich, Mussolini resided at the Prince Carl Palace. Daladier’s plane touched down at Munich shortly after 11:00 a.m. Thereafter, he was chauffeured to the Vier Jahreszeiten Hotel. A few minutes before noon, Chamberlain arrived and immediately set out for the Führerbau at the Königsplatz, the site of the Munich Conference.
Domarus (1206)
During the time of two totalitarian dictatorships
Pariser Platz during the official reception of Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands in May 1901; within two decades she will provide sanctuary for Kaiser Wilhelm II after his abdication. The square was named after the French defeat in 1815 and now is again the premier square in Berlin, after having fallen with the so-called 'Death Strip' during the time of the Berlin Wall. Before the war Pariser Platz was the grandest square in Berlin, flanked by the American and French embassies, the finest hotel (the Adlon Hotel), the Academy of the Arts, and several blocks of apartments and offices. During the last years of the Second World War all of the buildings around the square were turned to rubble by air raids and heavy artillery bombardment. The only structure left standing in the ruins of Pariser Platz was the Brandenburg Gate, which was restored by the East Berlin and West Berlin governments. After the war and especially with the construction of the Berlin Wall, the square was laid waste and became part of the death zone dividing the city. When the city was reunited in 1990, there was broad consensus that the Pariser Platz should be made into a fine urban space again. The embassies would move back, the hotel and arts academy would be reinstated, and prestigious firms would be encouraged to build round the square. Under the rules of reconstruction, eaves heights had to be twenty two meters, and buildings had to have a proper termination against the sky. Stone cladding was to be used as far as possible. Interpretations of these constraints, however, have varied to a great extent.

During the March 1920 Kapp putsch and the same site today, looking towards Unter der Linden. On March 13, 1920 Walther von Luettwitz personally activated a putsch, ordered Freikorps units into Berlin, and designated New York-born Dr. Wolfgang Kapp the new Chancellor. Kapp had been a member of the right-wing DNVP and, with like-minded individuals such as Erich Ludendorff, Colonel Max Bauer, and Waldemar Pabst, formed the Nationale Vereinigung (National Union) in October 1919. He was dedicated to the removal of the Republic and creation of a conservative dictatorship. At the start of the putsch, the legal government fled to Stuttgart. Because of insufficient preparations, the putschists failed to secure the support of Berlin’s bureaucracy, including the Reichsbank, and were greeted on 14 March by a general strike that doomed the action. Kapp resigned on 17 March and, with imprisonment threatening, fled to Sweden. When the 1922 trial of Traugott von Jagow, Kapp’s Interior Minister, fostered the view that the putschists had acted only as patriotic Germans, Kapp came home. Seriously ill with cancer, he surrendered to the Supreme Court and died before his case was decided. As aftermath to the foiled putsch, Germany’s internal politics were polarised: the Right became more adamant in its disapproval of the Republic, while the Left demanded resumption of the November Revolution. The uprising in the Ruhr of a so-called Red Army, a by-product of the putsch, compelled the hapless government to rely on the same Freikorps units that had just tried to displace it. German voters discerned the impairment of purpose. When elections were held in June 1920, the Weimar Coalition lost its majority; it would never regain it.
The site during the last stage of the Battle of Berlin; the "Altbau" from the IG-Farben building behind the T34/85 is now a Starbucks. It was here at the Pariserplatz that 
the wounded were laid in the street wrapped in blankets. German Red Cross nurses and BdM girls continued to treat them. Just to the north, Soviet guns blasted into submission a group of doomed ϟϟ still holding out in a building on the Spree. In all directions, smoke from ruins continued to deform the sky. Red Army soldiers flushed out Wehrmacht, ϟϟ, Hitler Youth and Volkssturm. They emerged from houses, cellars and subway tunnels, their faces almost black with grime and stubble. Soviet soldiers shouted, `Hdnde hoch!' and their prisoners dumped their weapons and held their hands as high as possible. A number of German civilians sidled up to Soviet officers to denounce soldiers who continued to hide. Vasily Grossman accompanied General Berzarin to the centre of the city. He was staggered by the scale of destruction all around, wondering how much had been wrought by American and British bombers. A Jewish woman and her elderly husband approached him. They asked about the fate of Jews who had been deported. When he confirmed their worst fears, the old man burst into tears. Grossman was apparently accosted a little later by a smart German lady wearing an astrakhan coat. They conversed pleasantly. `But surely you aren't a Jewish commissar?' she suddenly said to him. 
Beevor (393) The Fall of Berlin 1945
One of the most famous hotels before the war, hosting the likes of Chaplin in his heyday, it was used as an hospital during the war with a luxury bunker below, its ruins were destroyed with its new incarnation rebuilt in 1997, only very loosely inspired by the original, by Rainer Michael Klotz of Patzschke Klotz & Partners.
The famous Hotel Adlon which had  remained a social centre of the city throughout the Nazi period, though the Nazis themselves preferred the Hotel Kaiserhof a few blocks south and directly across from the Propaganda Ministry and Hitler's Chancellery on Wilhelmplatz. The Adlon continued to operate normally throughout World War II, even constructing a luxurious bomb shelter for its guests and a huge brick wall around the lobby level to protect the function rooms from flying debris. Parts of the hotel were converted to a military field hospital during the final days of the Battle of Berlin. The hotel survived the war without any major damage, having avoided the bombs and shelling that had levelled the city. However, on the night of May 2, 1945 a fire, started in the hotel's wine cellar by drunken Red Army soldiers, left the main building in ruins.
The Adlon was the hotel where Michael Jackson infamously dangled his baby out of the window of his room on the third floor, holding it with one arm under its shoulders in November, 2002
Beside the Adlon on the right is the former site of the Central Office of the Inspector General for Construction in the Reich Capital. Hitler had easy access to this building from his Chancellery which housed his 30 metre-long model for the reconstruction of Berlin:

The Reichstag
My 2016 class in front of the Reichstag, Germany's parliament in Berlin. The name together with its monumental size make most people associate Germany's neoclassical parliamentary building with the Nazis, but Hitler and his party have little history here. After hosting parliamentary sessions since 1894, one month after Hitler was appointed chancellor in January 1933, it was set on fire by Dutch communist Marinus van der Lubbe. In the years during which it abutted the Wall as a conference centre, West Berliners played football on its lawn, while later artist Christo famously wrapped it in cloth. It did not serve as parliament again until a reunited German government returned to Berlin in 1999. Renovated by Sir Norman Foster, this building is perhaps the most public federal building in the world through its glass-dome tourist attraction. On the rooftop, photographs documenting the building's history circle the rim above the parliament chamber. Two ramps spiral up the side of the dome, an engineering feat even more fascinating than the panoramic view from the top.

On February 27, 1933, the Reichstag caught fire. When the police arrived they found Marinus van der Lubbe on the premises. After being tortured by the Gestapo he confessed to starting the Reichstag Fire. However he denied that he was part of a Communist conspiracy. Hermann Goering refused to believe him and he ordered the arrest of several leaders of the German Communist Party (KPD). When Hitler heard the news about the fire he gave orders that all leaders of the German Communist Party should "be hanged that very night." Paul von Hindenburg vetoed this decision but did agree that Hitler should take "dictatorial powers". KPD candidates in the election were arrested and Hermann Goering announced that the Nazi Party planned "to exterminate" German communists.
On 23rd March, 1933, the German Reichstag passed the Enabling Bill. This banned the German Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party from taking part in future election campaigns. This was followed by Nazi officials being put in charge of all local government in the provinces (7th April), trades unions being abolished, their funds taken and their leaders put in prison (2nd May), and a law passed making the Nazi Party the only legal political party in Germany (14th July).
More Soviet soldiers died getting from where I'm standing to get the picture of the Soviet standard on the roof for Stalin than the British, Canadians and Americans who died storming the beaches at Normandy. The Reichstag had been seen as symbolic of, and at the heart of, the "fascist beast." It was arguably the most symbolic target in Berlin.  On 30 April there was great pressure from Stalin to take the building, in time for the International Workers' Day, May 1.
The most costly photograph ever taken showing Mikhail Yegorov and Meliton Kantaria of the 756th Rifle Regiment raising a handmade Soviet flag over the Reichstag.  Initially, two planes dropped several large red banners on the roof that appeared to have caught on the bombed-out dome. Additionally, a number of reports had reached headquarters that two parties, M. M. Bondar from the 380th Rifle Regiment and Captain V. N. Makov of the 756th might have been able to hoist a flag during the day of 30 April. These reports were received by Marshal Zhukov, who issued an announcement stating that his troops had captured the Reichstag and hoisted a flag. However, when correspondents arrived, they found no Soviets in the building, but rather they were pinned down outside by German fire. After fierce fighting both outside and inside the building, a flag was raised at 22:40 on April 30, when 23-year-old Rakhimzhan Qoshqarbaev climbed the building and inserted a flag into the crown of the mounted female statue of "Germania", symbolising Germany. As this happened at night, it was too dark to take a photograph. The next day the flag was taken down by the Germans. The Red Army finally gained control of the entire building on May 2. When Khaldei scaled the now pacified Reichstag to take his picture. He was carrying with him a large flag, sewn from three tablecloths for this very purpose, by his uncle. The official story would later be that two hand-picked soldiers, Meliton Kantaria (Georgian) and Mikhail Yegorov (Russian), raised the Soviet flag over the Reichstag, and the photograph would often be used as depicting the event. Some authors state that for political reasons the subjects of the photograph were changed and the actual man to hoist the flag was Alyosha Kovalyov, a Ukrainian, who was told by the NKVD to keep quiet about it. However, according to Khaldei himself, when he arrived at the Reichstag, he simply asked the soldiers who happened to be passing by to help with the staging of the photoshoot; there were only four of them, including Khaldei, on the roof:the one who was attaching the flag was 18-year-old Private Alexei Kovalyov from Kiev, the two others were Abdulkhakim Ismailov from Dagestan and Leonid Gorychev (also mentioned as Aleksei Goryachev) from Minsk.
While the loose scrum fought in chaos, two men of the banner group tried to slip past to race for the roof with their red flag. They managed to reach the second floor before they were pinned down by machine-gun fire. The regiment claimed that a second attempt at 10.50 p.m. succeeded and the red flag flew from the cupola of the Reichstag. This version must be treated with extreme caution, since Soviet propaganda was fixated with the idea of the Reichstag being captured by 1 May. Whatever the exact time, the `hoisting of the Red Flag of Victory' was a superficial gesture at that stage, since even the official accounts acknowledge the ferocity of the fighting, which continued all night. As the Soviet troops fought their way upstairs, the Germans from the cellars attacked them from behind. At one point Lieutenant Klochkov saw a group of his soldiers crouched in a circle as if examining something on the floor. They all suddenly leaped back together and he saw that it was a hole. The group had just dropped grenades in unison on to the heads of unsuspecting Germans on the floor below.
Beevor (365-6) Berlin: The Downfall 1945

The Nazis' enemies had first been able to visualize their moment of vengeance just over two years before. On 1 February 1943, an angry Soviet colonel collared a group of emaciated German prisoners in the rubble of Stalingrad. "That's how Berlin is going to look!" he yelled, pointing to the ruined buildings all around. When I read those words some six years ago, I sensed immediately what my next book had to be. Among the graffiti preserved on the Reichstag's walls in Berlin, one can still see the two cities linked by Russians exulting in their revenge, forcing the invaders from their furthest point of eastward advance right back to the heart of the Reich.
From the preface to Antony Beevor's
Stasi Museum

At the newly-renovated Stasi Museum located in the former headquarters of the Stasi (officially the Ministerium für Staatssicherheit), on Ruschestraße 103, near Frankfurter Allee at U-Bahn Station Magdalenenstrasse Line U5. The building was erected in 1960-61 as the offices of Erich Mielke, who served as Minister for State Security from 1957 until the end of the DDR. The entire block is a series of grey labyrinthine buildings, all hunched catastrophically together. A city within a city, the Stasi offices came complete with a movie theatre, canteen, a supermarket – and were surrounded by apartment buildings housing the people the Stasi liked to keep a close and paranoid eye on. My students from the Bavarian International School are shown at the entrance which served as the main building, Haus 1. It is home to Mielke's recently opened office and looks exactly how you'd expect it to look: carved busts of Marx and Lenin lining the hallways and the foyer, brown marble columns, off-white almost yellow walls, tacky gold-coloured railings.  Whereas the first and third floors host a series of exhibitions about survivors of the DDR regime, methods of surveillance, propaganda and general history, the second floor was entirely Mielke's.
Bavarian International School students in 2014 and 2016 when the outdoor exhibition opened.

Mielke's personal study then and today, almost perfectly preserved as it was. There's a bed, a small kitchen and a bathroom, which suggests that Mielke must have spent the vast amount of his time working, rarely going home to his wife and son.   Mielke served his post until the wall fell. On November 9, when the wall was accidentally declared "open" at that famous press conference which changed history, the Stasi freaked out and started destroying files as everyday citizens rushed the Stasi offices and demanded to see what had been written about them.  Mielke was kicked out of the party on December 3, almost certainly an attempt by the communists to wash their hands of those who committed unspeakable crimes. No longer shielded by his fancy role in the corrupt government, Mielke was arrested for the murder of the two policemen back in 1931.  In 1992 he was sentence to six years in prison, and served four of those six years at the Moabit prison before being released for medical reasons. Mielke, his lawyers argued, was senile and had forgotten what he had done.
File card depicting exactly how Erich Mielke wanted his breakfast served
It was from this office here that Mielke commanded a staff that grew from 2,700 at the time of the organisation’s formation in the 1950s to around 91,000 in 1989.  As a consequence of the economic problems of the DDR, Mielke initiated a hiring freeze in 1983, otherwise the ranks would surely have swelled further. Here is his desk, which features his phone, a chair, wood-panelled cupboards (everything is wood-panelled), and a shredder, an ominous nod to the frantic efforts of the Stasi to shred secret documents of the citizens they spied on for an entire generation.  
Erich Mielkes conference room in his Stasi-central in Berlin-Lichtenberg where he used to meet the 16 Bezirk-leaders from Stasi-departments all over the DDR. There are a series of meeting rooms throughout with fancy worn maps hanging on the walls, long tables, comfortable bright blue chairs, and a secretary's desk complete with a telephone switchboard with oversized comical buttons like the kind you'd see in an old James Bond movie.
Beside the statue of (Iron) Felix Dzerzhinsky on the three separate visits to the museum. Dzerzhinsky is best known for establishing and developing the Soviet secret police forces, serving as their director from 1917 to 1926. Later he was a member of the Soviet government heading several commissariats, whilst being the chief of the Soviet secret police. The Cheka soon became notorious for mass summary executions, performed especially during the Red Terror and the Russian Civil War

On the first floor- the command centre- of the former headquarters of the Stasi (officially the Ministerium für Staatssicherheit), on Ruschestraße, near Frankfurter Allee. The building was erected in 1960-61 as the offices of Erich Mielke, who served as Minister for State Security from 1957 until the end of the DDR. Students are walking down the corridor to the office and working quarters of Mielke.  On 15 January 1990 demonstrators took over the Stasi headquarters. A week later, the Central Round Table, a committee made up of representatives of the SED dictatorship and civil rights groups, decided that a “memorial and research centre on GDR Stalinism” should be established in House 1. When nothing came of this declaration of intent, members of the Berlin citizens’ committee and other civil rights activists took action and began securing the historic site. In August they founded the association “Antistalinistische Aktion e.V.” (ASTAK). On 7 November 1990, it opened the Research Centre and Memorial at Normannenstrasse with an exhibition titled “Against the Sleep of Reason”. House 1, later named the Stasi Museum, has been open to the public ever since. The offices of Erich Mielke are preserved in their original condition and form the centrepiece of the historic site. The museum today serves as a "centre for the collection, preservation, documentation, rehabilitation and exhibition of evidence and research materials relating to East Germany".
Alex and Patrick beside the Berlin Wall on Bergstraße 

Cycling along the former site of the wall

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas)

Aerial photo of the Memorial site
Standing among the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin, designed by architect Peter Eisenman and engineers Buro Happold and consisting of a 19,000 square metre site covered with 2,711 stelae arranged in a grid pattern on a sloping field. The stelae are 7.8' long, 3' 1.5" wide and vary in height from 0.2m to 4.8m (8" to 15'9") and were designed to produce an uneasy, confusing atmosphere; a supposedly ordered system that has lost touch with human reason. A 2005 copy of the Foundation for the Memorial's official English tourist pamphlet, however, states that the design represents a radical approach to the traditional concept of a memorial, partly because Eisenman did not use any symbolism. An attached underground "Place of Information" holds the names of all known Jewish Holocaust victims, obtained from the Israeli museum Yad Vashem. They are found underground- not marked prominently, not easy to find, and not integral to the display.
Richard Brody in The New Yorker argues that without knowing beforehand, it would be impossible to know what the structure is meant to commemorate; there’s nothing about these concrete slabs that signifies any of the words of the title, except, perhaps, “memorial”—insofar as some of them, depending on their height, may resemble either headstones or sarcophagi. So it’s something to do with death. And as for the title itself—which murdered Jews? When? Where? Does the list include Rosa Luxemburg, who was killed in Berlin by rightist thugs in 1919, or the foreign minister Walther Rathenau, also killed here by rightist thugs, in 1922? Or Isaac Babel and Osip Mandelstam, who died in Soviet captivity? Or, pardon my sarcasm, Claude Lanzmann’s uncle, who was killed in Paris by his jealous mistress? The title doesn’t say “Holocaust” or “Shoah”; in other words, it doesn’t say anything about who did the murdering or why—there’s nothing along the lines of “by Germany under Hitler’s regime,” and the vagueness is disturbing. Of course, the information is familiar, and few visitors would be unaware of it, but the assumption of this familiarity—the failure to mention it at the country’s main memorial for the Jews killed in the Holocaust—separates the victims from their killers and leaches the moral element from the historical event, shunting it to the category of a natural catastrophe. The reduction of responsibility to an embarrassing, tacit fact that “everybody knows” is the first step on the road to forgetting.
 Checkpoint Charlie then and now
Leon at the site and as it appeared in 1961 

Reich Aviation Ministry
Model of the entire complex and site today. In January 1935, Goering laid the cornerstone of the new Air Ministry. It would occupy a four-hundred-thousand-square-foot site off the Leipziger Strasse. Hitler personally checked each façade in plaster miniature. Its central longitudinal block and side wings would house four thousand bureaucrats and officers in its twenty-eight hundred rooms. Throughout 1935 the country’s finest architects and sculptors chiselled at heroic reliefs with motifs like “Flag Company,” designed by Professor Arnold Waldschmidt of the Prussian Academy of Fine Arts. The Berliners made smug comments about this extravagance- “Pure and simple, and hang the expense!” was one; “Just humble gold” was another.
The building provided the backdrop to the film Valkyrie

Reich Aviation Ministry (Goering's HQ). It remains the only major surviving public building in the Wilhelmstrasse from the Nazi era at Wilhelmstraße 81-85, south of the Leipziger Strasse, a huge edifice built on the orders of Hermann Göring between 1933 and 1936 based on a design by Ernst Sagebiel, who shortly afterwards rebuilt Tempelhof Airport on a similarly gigantic scale. One writer has described it as "in the typical style of National Socialist intimidation architecture." It ran for more than 250 metres along Wilhelmstraße, partly on the site of the former Prussian War Ministry that had dated from 1819, and covered the full length of the block between Prinz-Albrecht-Straße and Leipziger Straße, even running along Leipziger Straße itself to join on to the Prussian Herrenhaus, the former Upper House of the Prussian Parliament. It comprised a reinforced concrete skeleton with an exterior facing of limestone and travertine (a form of marble). With its seven storeys and total floor area of 112,000 sq m, 2,800 rooms, 7 km of corridors, over 4,000 windows, 17 stairways, and with the stone coming from no fewer than 50 quarries, the vast building served the growing bureaucracy of the Luftwaffe, plus Germany’s civil aviation authority which was also located there. Yet it took only 18 months to build, the army of labourers working double shifts and Sundays. The first 1,000 rooms were handed over in October 1935 after just eight months' construction. When finally completed, 4,000 bureaucrats and their secretaries were employed within its walls. This building escaped major damage during the war. As one of the few intact government buildings in central Berlin, it was occupied by the Council of Ministers of the new German Democratic Republic in 1949. As such it was at the centre of the popular demonstrations during the workers' uprising of June 17, 1953.
Göring during the Tag der Luftwaffe on March 1, 193c

The memorial to the June 17 uprising, with the DDR-era mural in the background within Göring's former air ministry HQ. The central Monument in memory of the 1953 Uprising in the East German Democratic Republic is represented by a groundfloor relief, surrounded by a low barrier, created by Wolfgang Rüppel. The groundfloor monument, in Leipziger Straße at the corner of Wilhelmstraße in front of the Federal Ministry of Finance (officially named the Detlev-Rohwedder-Haus) and an older wall-mounted plaque on the façade itself. Remarkably, Max Lingner's 18-metre long mural "Aufbau der Republik" (Building the Republic) is allowed to remain in situ.
Topography of Terror
On an empty field between Prinz-Albrecht-Strasse (now renamed Niederkirchnerstrasse), Wilhelmstrasse and Anhalter Strasse is the site where the Gestapo set up its offices its house gaol on Prinz-Albrecht-Strasse 8. In November 1934 the 'Security Service of the Reich SS Leader' (SD) under Heydrich moved his office here where the central institutions of Nazi persecution and terror – the Secret State Police Office with its own “house prison,” the leadership of the SS and, during the Second World War, the Reich Security Main Office – were located. Here Himmler, Heydrich, Kaltenbrunner and their assistants had their desks and decided "on the persecution of political opponents, the Germanisation of occupied territories in Poland and the Soviet Union, the murder of Soviet prisoners of war and the genocide of the European Jews." This is where the Einsatzgruppen had been assembled and where the Wannsee Conference was prepared. "There is no other site where terror and murder were planned and organised on the same scale." (http://www.icols.org/pages/NEWS-EVENTS/Berlinmarch/TofT_HistoricalSite/TofT_HistoricalSite.html)

The new exhibition and documentation Centre with the redesigned historic grounds were opened to the public on May 7, 2010 according to a prize-winning design by the architect Ursula Wilms (Heinle, Wischer und Partner, Berlin) and the landscape architect Heinz W. Hallmann (Aachen) on the site of the GESTAPO headquarters on Prinz-Albrecht-Strasse. The Reich’s Main Security Office (Reichssicherheitshauptamt- RSHA) – Nazi Germany’s central authority, established on September 27, 1939, with the aim of coordinating the Nazi terror system during WWII. It consisted of the former Main Security Police Office (Hauptamt der Sicherheitspolizei) and the Main SD Office (SD-Hauptamt). It brought together and controlled all the SD’s and state’s repressive bodies. Headed by R. Heydrich, the RSHA answered to H. Himmler. Following Heydrich’s death, the RSHA was run by Himmler personally until 1943 when it was taken over by E. Kaltenbrunner. The RSHA comprised seven departments: personnel, organisation and administration, security services (SD), internal and external affairs, the Gestapo, criminal police, and others. In February 1944 one of the SD departments was put in charge of Abwehr (counter-intelligence).
The buildings that housed the Gestapo and ϟϟ headquarters were largely destroyed by Allied bombing during early 1945 and the ruins demolished after the war. The boundary between the American and Soviet zones of occupation in Berlin ran along the Prinz-Albrecht-Strasse, so the street soon became a fortified boundary, and the Berlin Wall ran along the south side of the street, renamed Niederkirchnerstrasse, from 1961 to 1989. The wall itself was never removed from the site, and the section adjacent to the Topography of Terror site is the second-longest segment still in place (after the East Side Gallery in Friedrichshain). It is here after the July Plot of 1944 that,

under hideous torture in the Gestapo dungeon in the Prinz Albrechtstrasse in Berlin Colonel von Hofacker broke down and told of Rommel’s part in the conspiracy. ”Tell the people in Berlin they can count on me,” Hofacker quoted the Field Marshal as assuring him. It was a phrase that stuck in Hitler’s mind when he heard of it and which led him to decide that his favourite general, whom he knew to be the most popular one in Germany, must die.
 Shirer (966)

The bombed out shell of the Gestapo-SS headquarters, 1945 which had been defended by Henri Fenet, the surviving 'Charlemagne' battalion commander. On the right one can see the prison cell windows of the Gestapo gaol in the south wing of the building facing the inner courtyard on Prinz-Albrecht-Strasse 8, in 1945, temporarily walled up after damage caused by bombs.
Excavated cells from the basement of the Gestapo headquarters in 1948 and today showing images of political prisoners from the Gestapo archives.
Reichsministerium für Volksaufklärung und Propaganda
Rights shows a Berlin postcard actually promoting the site

The Ministry for Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda (Reichsministerium für Volksaufklärung und Propaganda – RMVP), was established by a presidential decree, signed on 12 March 1933 and promulgated on the following day, which defined the task of the new ministry as the dissemination of ‘enlightenment and propaganda within the population concerning the policy of the Reich Government and the national reconstruction of the German Fatherland’. In June Hitler was to define the scope of the RMVP in even more general terms, making Goebbels responsible for the ‘spiritual direction of the nation’. Not only did this vague directive provide Goebbels with room to out-manoeuvre his critics within the Party; it also put the seal of legitimacy on what was soon to be the ministry’s wholesale control of the mass-media. Nevertheless, Goebbels was constantly involved in quarrels with ministerial colleagues who resented the encroachment of this new ministry on their old domain.
The part of the building visible here is the Marschall House, converted by Karl Reichle in 1934 to serve as the entrance area to the Ministry of Propaganda. The walled up archways and windows of today were originally passageways to the main building of the Ministry of Propaganda.
The bronze statue of Leopold I shown on the right was replaced in 2005 to its current location

The garden entrance to Hitler's bunker in 1946 when the bunker was flooded, perhaps to prevent exploration underground, and as depicted in another re-enacting of the disposal of Hitler's body from Der Untergang
War correspondents are shown are shown the grave where Hitler's charred body was alleged to be buried, Berlin 1945 – 2016
Photograph purporting to show Hitler's remains and the site where his body was cremated today
Stalin had been informed by Zhukov that Hitler had committed suicide on 30 April. His body and that of his new wife Eva Braun had been dug up in the garden, in the spot designated by Admiral Voss. As the Smersh soldiers were not certain that they had the right bodies, they reburied them, only finally exhuming them on 5 May, when together with the bodies of the Goebbels children, the chief of staff General Krebs and a couple of dogs, they were sent to their HQ at Berlin-Buch as important trophies. The autopsies were performed the next day. Contradictory evidence made the officers concerned reluctant to send in a final report on the cause of Hitler’s death. The Soviet authorities preferred the version that had him taking poison – a cowardly way out. Shooting oneself was a braver, more soldierly death.
When the Soviets’ Operation Myth was launched in 1946 to establish the real sequence of events leading to Hitler’s death, some of Hitler’s personal staff were brought back to Berlin and the bunker, in order to point out the precise details of the suicide and subsequent burning in the garden. The bones, for the time being, were stored in Magdeburg. Of particular importance were the objects in Hitler’s personal collection. For them an aircraft was laid on as Stalin wanted his bones examined by his foremost experts. The Führer’s skull was eventually put into a paper bag and deposited in the State Archives.
Giles MacDonogh (385) After the Reich
 The two statues, with me standing beside  Sword Bearer now in a different location
Fritz Todt's funeral in February, 1942

Checking out Mohrenstrasse Underground station
When East Berlin fell under communist administration after the Second World War, the Wilhelmplatz square as well as the station were renamed on 18 August 1950 to Thälmannplatz, after the communist leader Ernst Thälmann. With the erection of the Berlin Wall from 13 August 1961, the line ceased to run between East and West Berlin and the station became the terminus of the line in East Berlin. As in the 1980s the square was overbuilt by a housing estate and the Czechoslovak embassy, the station on 15 April 1986 was renamed Otto-Grotewohl-Straße, the name of the Wilhelmstraße at that time, after the politician Otto Grotewohl. On 3 October 1991, following German reunification, the station was renamed Mohrenstraße.

On April 6, 1933, the Main Office for Press and Propaganda of the German Student Association (Deutsche Studentenschaft) proclaimed a nationwide "Action against the Un-German Spirit", to climax in a literary purge or "cleansing" ("Säuberung") by fire. Local chapters were to supply the press with releases and commissioned articles, sponsor well-known Nazi figures to speak at public gatherings, and negotiate for radio broadcast time. On April 8 the students association also drafted its Twelve Theses, deliberately evoking Martin Luther; the theses declared and outlined a "pure" national language and culture. Placards publicized the theses, which attacked "Jewish intellectualism", asserted the need to "purify" German language and literature, and demanded that universities be centres of German nationalism. The students described the "action" as a response to a worldwide Jewish "smear campaign" against Germany and an affirmation of traditional German values.

In front of the the Royal Library, now the seat of the Faculty of Law, is this memorial by Micha Ullmann. When viewed at an angle, one can see empty shelves capable of holding 20,000 books. When viewed from above, all one sees is their own reflection. Both views are meant to remind us of the events that transpired and the people responsible for them.

In 1821, Heinrich Heine, a German poet of Jewish origin, had written in his play Almansor:
"Wo Bücher brennen, da brennen bald auch Menschen."
(Where they burn books, people will be burned last.)

Across the street is the statue of Hermann von Helmholtz in front of the main building of the university, the entrance of which is little changed from the time it was the setting for a Nazi rally.

 At about midnight a torchlight parade of thousands of students ended at a square on Unter den Linden opposite the University of Berlin. Torches were put to a huge pile of books that had been gathered there, and as the flames enveloped them more books were thrown on the fire until some twenty thousand had been consumed. Similar scenes took place in several other cities. The book burning had begun. Many of the books tossed into the flames in Berlin that night by the joyous students under the approving eye of Dr. Goebbels had been written by authors of world reputation. They included, among German writers, Thomas and Heinrich Mann, Lion Feuchtwanger, Jakob Wassermann, Arnold and Stefan Zweig, Erich Maria Remarque, Walther Rathenau, Albert Einstein, Alfred Kerr and Hugo Preuss, the last named being the scholar who had drafted the Weimar Constitution. But not only the works of dozens of German writers were burned. A good many foreign authors were also included: Jack London, Upton Sinclair, Helen Keller, Margaret Sanger, H. G. Wells, Havelock Ellis, Arthur Schnitzler, Freud, Gide, Zola, Proust. In the words of a student proclamation, any book was condemned to the flames ”which acts subversively on our future or strikes at the root of German thought, the German home and the driving forces of our people.” Dr. Goebbels, the new Propaganda Minister, who from now on was to put German culture into a Nazi strait jacket, addressed the students as the burning books turned to ashes. ”The soul of the German people can again express itself. These flames not only illuminate the final end of an old era; they also light up the new.”
 Shirer (213-214)
St. Hedwig's Cathedral at the back of Bebelplatz, built in the 18th century as the first Catholic church in Prussia by permission of King Frederick II. Lichtenberg was later jailed by the Nazis and died on the way to the concentration camp at Dachau. 
It was here after Reichskristallnacht that Father Bernhard Lichtenberg, a canon of the cathedral chapter of St Hedwig since 1931, publicly prayed for the Jews at Vespers services. In addition, he protested in person to Nazi officials the arrest and killing of the sick and mentally ill as well as the persecution of the Jews. At first, the Nazis dismissed the priest as a nuisance. Father Lichtenberg was warned that he was in danger of being arrested for his activities, but he continued nonetheless. Deploring the regime of concentration camps like that of Dachau, he organized demonstrations against them outside certain camps.  In 1942, Lichtenberg protested against the euthanasia programme by way of a letter to the chief physician of the Reich
I, as a human being, a Christian, a priest, and a German, demand of you, Chief Physician of the Reich, that you answer for the crimes that have been perpetrated at your bidding, and with your consent, and which will call forth the vengeance of the Lord on the heads of the German people.
  Lichtenberg was arrested and condemned to prison. Because he was considered incorrigible, he was sent to the Dachau concentration camp, but collapsed and died whilst in transit, on November 5, 1943. His tomb is situated here in the crypt after his remains were transferred in 1965. 

The cathedral burned out completely in 1943 during air raids on Berlin and was reconstructed from 1952 up to 1963.
Behind is the Gendarmenmarkt, the site of the Konzerthaus and the French and German Cathedrals, all of which were left in ruins after the war.
It is when comparing the Deutscher Dom then and now that it becomes evident. On the right is the Französischer Dom, shown on fire after bombing in 1944. In 1936 the Nazis removed the ornamental gardens in front of the theatre and replaced them with the square stones still seen today. The square was then used as a parade square for propaganda rallies.
My students on the steps of the Deutscher Dom.

Neue Wache
On April 20, 1939 for Hitler's 50th birthday with the 1.Kompanie ϟϟ Adolf Hitler en guarde
Left: Hitler, followed by Defence Minister Werner von Blomberg and Prussian Prime Minister Hermann Göring, walking several paces behind Hindenburg in front of the building. Right: Hitler in 1935 from the Nazi book Life of a Leader
Originally built as a guardhouse for the troops of the Crown Prince of Prussia, the building has been used as a war memorial since 1931. The Nazis used it as an Hall of Fame for Heroes.

The photo on the right shows 100 Italian Ballila blackshirts marching past with the Hitler Youth Leader in front of the column with the Fascist commander of the unit.
As it appeared in 1945 and today

In 1828 and today with the Zeughaus behind
The courtyard then and now. Located next to the Neue Wache, the former Armoury is now the National History Museum. It was where Baron Rudolf-Christoph von Gersdorff attempted to assassinate Hitler when he, Goering, Himmler and Keitel were due to be present at the Heroes’ Memorial Day (Heldengedenktag) ceremonies on March 21 1943 at the Zeughaus. Here was an opportunity to get not only the Führer but his chief associates. As Colonel Freiherr von Gersdorff, chief of intelligence on Kluge’s staff, later said, ”This was a chance which would never recur.” He had been selected to handle the bomb, and this time it would have to be a suicidal mission where the colonel would conceal in his overcoat pockets two bombs, set the fuses, stay as close to Hitler during the ceremony as possible and blow the Fuehrer and his entourage as well as himself up. On the evening of March 20 he met with Schlabrendorff in his room at the Eden Hotel in Berlin. Schlabrendorff had brought two bombs with ten- minute fuses. But because of the near-freezing temperature in the glassed-over courtyard of the Zeughaus it might take from fifteen to twenty minutes before the weapons exploded. 

Hitler speaking in the Zeughaus courtyard March 1941 and Cristina, Alex, Leon and Patrick at the site today, minus the staircase. It was in this courtyard that Hitler, after his speech, was scheduled to spend half an hour examining an exhibition of captured Russian war trophies which Gersdorff’s staff had arranged. It was the only place where the colonel could get close enough to the Fuehrer to kill him. Gersdorff later recounted what happened:
The next day I carried in each of my overcoat pockets a bomb with a ten-minute fuse. I intended to stay as close to Hitler as I could, so that he at least would be blown to pieces by the explosion. When Hitler... entered the exhibitional hall, Schmundt came across to me and said that only eight or ten minutes were to be spent on inspecting the exhibits. So the possibility of carrying out the assassination no longer existed, since even if the temperature had been normal the fuse needed at least ten minutes. This last-minute change of schedule, which was typical of Hitler’s subtle security methods, had once again saved him his life.
Once again, astonishing luck had accompanied Hitler. The depressed and shocked mood following Stalingrad had probably also offered the best possible psychological moment for a coup against him. A successful undertaking at that time might, despite the recently announced ‘Unconditional Surrender’ strategy of the Allies, have stood a chance of splitting them. The removal of the Nazi leadership and offer of capitulation in the west that Tresckow intended would at any rate have placed the western Allies with a quandary about whether to respond to peace-feelers. 
Kershaw (822) Hitler
The Kaiser Friedrich Museum (now Bodemuseum) and during our 2016 school trip

Propaganda Minister Goebbels and Hitler speaking on the steps of the Altes Museum in 1938. Albert Wolff's Löwenkämpfer, a copy of which can be found at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, remains. The Lustgarten ("Pleasure Garden") is in central Berlin, next to the Dom and had often been used as a parade ground and site for mass rallies. During the Weimar Republic, it was frequently used for political demonstrations with frequent rallies held by Socialists and Communists. In August 1921, 500,000 people demonstrated against right-wing extremist violence. After the murder of Foreign Minister Walther Rathenau in June 1922, 250,000 protested in the Lustgarten.
The Stadtschloß, serving as the principal winter residence of the Hohenzollerns, was damaged by Allied bombing in the war . Although possible to repair at great expense, the palace was demolished in 1950 by the German Democratic Republic authorities, despite West German protests. Following the reunification of Germany, it was decided to rebuild the Stadtschloß which, as seen in our class's photograph on the right for comparison, is still ongoing. In both photographs can be seen in the foreground the granite bowl with its diameter of twenty feet which was created by Christian Gottlieb Cantian in the late 1820s out of a single glacial boulder. It had been commissioned for the Altes Museum's courtyard  but ended up being too large to fit inside the museum forcing Schinkel to create the base for it to stand permanently in the lustgarten.
It was from the palace that Karl Liebknecht heralded a ‘‘free socialist Republic’’ on November 9 (Philipp Scheidemann had already proclaimed ‘‘the German Republic’’ from the Reichstag) before helping to found the Spartacus League two days later.
Hitler in front of the Dom during the 1932 national election and after the war with two members of the Red Army; during our 2016 school trip.

Bahnhof Friedrichstraße from Berlin in Bildern, published in 1938, and today.
At the end of January, between 40,ooo and 5o,ooo refugees were arriving in Berlin each day, mainly by train. The capital of the Reich did not welcome its victims. `The Friedrichstrasse Bahnhof has become the transit point of Germany's fate,' an eyewitness wrote. `Each new train that comes in unloads a mass of amorphous suffering on to the platform.' In their misery, they may not have noticed the sign there which proclaimed, `Dogs and Jews are not allowed to use the escalator!' Soon energetic measures were taken by the German Red Cross to push refugees on from the Anhalter Bahnhof as quickly as possible, or to force trains to go round Berlin. The authorities were afraid of `infectious diseases such as typhus' and an epidemic in the capital. Other illnesses that they feared the refugees would spread were dysentery, paratyphus, diphtheria and scarlet fever. 
Beevor (48-49) The Fall of Berlin 1945
Outside Friedrichstraße station at the intersection of Georgenstraße and Friedrichstraße is this bronze statue representing the contrasting fate of children during the Nazi era by architect and sculptor Frank Meisler, who travelled himself with a 1939 children's transport from Berlin-Friedrichstraße to England. Five figures in grey look to one side, symbolising the suffering of those deported to concentration camps to meet an early demise. Two lighter bronze figures gaze in the other direction representing those Jewish children whose lives were saved by the Kindertransport to England.  More than two million children lost their lives from 1933 to 1945 through the tyranny of the Nazis. London stockbroker Nicholas Winton, moved by the fate of Jewish refugees, worked with his fellow Britons to bring the first rescued children to the UK. These Kindertransporte were an attempt to protect the youngest victims of the Nazi dictatorship. These rescue missions allowed some 10,000 Jewish children from Germany, Austria, Poland and Czechoslovakia to escape deportation and find refuge in children's homes or with English families in London.  The first train left Berlin's Friedrichstraße station with 196 children on board on 30 November 1938.
Friedrichstadt Palast around the turn of the century when it served as a military barracks dating from the 1760s and today. When taking school groups I've tended to use Baxpax hostel around the corner at Ziegelstrasse 28. Named after Felix Yurievich Ziegel, Soviet researcher, Doctor of Science and docent of Cosmology at the Moscow Aviation Institute and generally regarded as a founder of Russian ufology, like many streets eflecting the military connections around the area- Artillerienstrasse, Dragonerstrasse, Grenadierstrasse- its original name had been purged and replaced by worthy left-wingers by the DDR regime.

 The Wannsee Conference was convened on 20 January 1942 by the second-highest ranking ϟϟ leader Reinhard Heydrich in a luxurious villa taken over by the ϟϟ in the wealthy Berlin suburb of Wannsee. Its purpose was to announce the launching of the “final solution” of the Jewish question in Europe to leading government and party bureaucrats and to secure their cooperation in this project. Historians have not been able to determine with absolute certainty just when Hitler made the decision for systematic genocide. On 31 July 1941, six weeks after the ϟϟ Einsatzgruppen began murdering Soviet Jews in coordination with “Operation Barbarossa,” Heydrich was delegated the task of drawing up plans for “a total solution of the Jewish question in the German sphere of influence in Europe”. It seems almost certain that he was given the green light to implement these plans by October 1941, when Jewish emigration was prohibited throughout Europe and preparations for the deportation of German Jews were put into place. Euthanasia “experts” had already been transferred to occupied Poland to set up the facilities for mass killings by poison gas. The ruthless racial and ideological war against the Soviet Union provided the conditions under which a systematic extermination program could be launched without generating wide publicity.
The Conference had originally been called for December 8, but the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour and the launching of the Soviet offensive against the German siege of Moscow forced a postponement. The minutes do not openly describe the killing programme, but none of the high-ranking participants from the various government ministries could have been in any doubt what Heydrich meant when he said that the remnant of Jews who survived forced labour would have to be “appropriately dealt with.” Adolf Eichmann, the specialist on the “Jewish question” in the Reich Security Main Office run by Heydrich, provided the population statistics, which overstated the number of Jews in Europe by some two million. Much of the conference was taken up by the question of whether Jews of mixed ancestry (Mischlinge) and Jews in mixed marriages were to be included in the “final solution.” The ϟϟ was forced by considerations of public morale to respect these distinctions in Germany itself. In the occupied areas, however, the Nazis made no exceptions for part-Jews or Jews in mixed marriages.

Of the fourteen participants invited and sat around this table discussing the logistics of mass murder, eight held doctorates or comparable university degrees.
Leon engaged in discussions with an American tourist at the bus stop on the corner of the Wannsee museum
Commonwealth War Grave Cemetery, Berlin