Showing posts with label Reichstag. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Reichstag. Show all posts

Nazi Sites around Pariser Platz and Reichstag

During the time of two totalitarian dictatorships
From the first British cover of the bestselling 1992 thriller by Robert Harris set in a world in which Germany won World War II to providing the inspiration for the entrance to a millionaire's estate on Xiaoyun Road here in the capital of 'communist' China. 
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.
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.

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
The Nazis' triumphal procession January 30, 1933 upon Hitler's appointment as Chancellor.
On 30 January 1933, the night of Hitler’s appointment to the chancellorship, massed Nazi marchers, mostly stormtroopers, poured through Berlin streets to the Brandenburg gate, waving torches and singing. They moved on past the Reich Chancellery where Hitler and Hindenburg stood on a balcony. Now the exodus began in earnest. Playwright Bertold Brecht left quickly for Vienna. Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya, of “Three-Penny Opera” fame, fled to Paris. A number of conductors and composers fled to Switzerland or America. The unique, feverish, turbulent, and recklessly hedonistic Berlin of the twenties was gone.

When Hitler had been appointed Chancellor January 30, 1933, SA troops marched through. This painting by Arthur Kampf depicting this march makes a number of appearances in the video game Return to Castle Wolfenstein
Other parades through the Gate took place when Mussolini visited in 1937, for Hitler's 50th birthday in 1939, and in 1940 when the Wehrmacht celebrated their blitzkrieg triumphs over Poland and France.
Hitler August 1st 1936 at the opening of the Summer Olympic Games.A model for the Beijing Games set in another totalitarian regime:

With the Canadian flag in front during the Olympics and what appears to be the Bermudan Governor's flag on the right from a National Geographic article in the February 1937 issue titled "Changing Berlin".
The Brandenburg Regiment, so-named as it had initially been based in the town of Brandenburg an der Havel. 

Hitler's 50th Birthday celebrations

Complete Agfachrome colour Nazi propaganda film from 1936 providing a portrait of everyday life in Berlin in this rare, well preserved film. Original soundtrack sans subtitles.

The site after the Third Reich. Field Marshal Sir Bernard Montgomery joins the Deputy Supreme Commander in Chief of the Red Army, Marshal G Zhukov, the Commander of the 21st Army Group, Marshal Sokolovsky and General K Rokossovsky of the Red Army as they leave the Brandenburg Gate after decorating them at the July 12, 1945 ceremony.

The Brandenburg Gate as seen from the British Zone and during my 2013 class trip
The Brandenburg Gate had become the main focus for barter and the black market at the beginning of May, when liberated prisoners of war and forced labourers traded their loot. Ursula von Kardorff found all sorts of women prostituting themselves for food or the alternative currency of cigarettes. `Willkommen in Shanghai,' remarked one cynic. Young women of thirty looked years older, she noticed.
It is still possible to honour the Red Army's victory today (although an American tourist found reason to be offended in the contempt shown for her flag) provided one doesn't dwell on its "excesses"...
Does Djilas, who is himself a writer, not know what human suffering and the human heart are? Can't he understand it if a soldier who has crossed thousands of kilometres through blood and fire and death has fun with a woman or takes some trifle?
Stalin responding to complaints about the rapes and looting committed by the Red Army during the Second World War. Milovan Djilas, Conversations with Stalin, p. 95. Stalin would also suggest that "We lecture our soldiers too much; let them have their initiative."
The Soviets had known where to find the wine: 65,000 bottles of claret had been located to this end, and others beside. They had taken it from a walled-up section of the cellars of Berlin’s best hotel, the Adlon. The fate of the hotel was sealed by the discovery of the wine cellar. Russian lorries came to take away the contents, and very soon a fire broke out that was to destroy one of the few buildings in the street that had survived the conflict.

Before and after the war

The site before and after the fall of the wall from the British zone

Embassy of the United States of America
The American embassy after the war and after its official opening July 4, 2008.The night before he was murdered Rathenau spent at a dinner here given by Ambassador Alanson Houghton followed by a talk "that lasted until four o'clock in the morning with Hugo Stinnes, who disagreed often enough with him but at the same time admired many things he stood for." The Making of Adolf Hitler

The US Embassy in 1939 is on the left in this picture. USA is printed on the roof in an attempt to minimise damage from accidental aerial bombings which was impossible given its proximity to the Reichschancellery. The Brandenburg Gate is to the right. On the right is a photo of my school group in 2011.

On the other side of Pariser Platz, the French Embassy has recently been rebuilt on the site of France's prewar embassy.

Hotel Adlon
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 hotel 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.  

After Keitel had handed over a document signed by Dönitz confirming the unconditional surrender arranged in Rheims the day before ending the war,
[t]here were four full hours of toasts and many of the soldiers were literally under the table. When the festivities came to an end there was a massive cannonade, which some Berliners misinterpreted, imagining the war had started up all over again. The Soviets had known where to find the wine: 65,000 bottles of claret had been located to this end, and others beside. They had taken it from a walled-up section of the cellars of Berlin’s best hotel, the Adlon. The fate of the hotel was sealed by the discovery of the wine cellar. Russian lorries came to take away the contents, and very soon a fire broke out that was to destroy one of the few buildings in the street that had survived the conflict.

Left: May 3 1945 Right: The hotel beside Stalin's Portrait
Louis Adlon himself was arrested in his home near Potsdam by Soviet troops on April 25 after they mistook him for a general due to his title of "Generaldirektor". He died on a street in Falkensee on May 7, 1945, of cardiac insufficiency according to the death certificate.[2] East German Hotel Adlon Ruined Pariser Platz in 1950, gutted Hotel Adlon on the right  Following the war, the East German government reopened the building's surviving rear service wing under the Hotel Adlon name. The ruined main building was demolished in 1952, along with all of the other buildings on Pariser Platz. The square was left as an abandoned, grassed-over buffer with the West, with the Brandenburg Gate sitting alone by the Berlin Wall.  In 1964, the remaining part of the building was renovated and the façade was redone. However, in the 1970s what remained of the original Hotel Adlon closed to guests and was converted to serve mainly as a lodging house for East German apprentices. Finally, in 1984, the building was demolished. 

Soviet soldiers hoisting the Soviet flag on the balcony of the Hotel Adlon.

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:

Former Central Office of the Inspector General for Construction in the Reich Capital

On the site near Albert Speer's former HQ was a timely display reminder about another fascist, single-party regime awarded the honour to host the Olympics. After a 56 million Euro restoration, Berlin's Academy of the Arts re-opened at its historic location at Pariser Platz 4 between the Adlon Hotel and Brandenburg Gate. Founded in 1696, the Academy of the Arts offers a look back at a turbulent history that includes Nazi domination, destruction during World War II, and the takeover by GDR Border Patrol after the division of Berlin. Designed by architects Behnisch & Partner and Werner Durth, the new glass and steel building is meant to reflect the dimensions of its original structure. Remnants of the former Academy have also been incorporated in the design, mirroring the building's history and destruction. Hitler had easy access to this building from his Chancellery which housed his 30 metre-long model for the reconstruction of Berlin:
Standing beside the original model of the proposed Great Hall of the People (Große Halle, Halle des Volkes).
A brief computerised tour of the Berlin Speer had intended to construct (in German). A member of the Nazi Party from 1932, Albert Speer came to prominence when he organised the spectacular Party Rally at Nuremberg in 1934. Lasting for an entire week, the rally took as its theme, the Triumph of the Will, a celebration of the victory of National Socialism, and the establishment of Hitler's Reich. From this time onwards, Speer' s rise through the ranks of the Nazi hierarchy was assured. An architect by training, Speer went on to dominate the architectural climate of the Third Reich, working with Hitler on a range of huge and ostentatious projects, including plans for the complete rebuilding of Berlin. But of these schemes, few were ever to come to fruition, and of those that did fewer still were to survive the war.
In this short trailer, Speer's work has been recreated in a detailed virtual 3D model, from his first commission for the Nazi Party in 1932, to the "Great Hall" that Hitler wished him to complete before 1950. This makes it possible to draw a direct comparison between the historic architecture of the old Berlin, and the buildings that were constructed and planned by the Nazis. Some of these buildings, which were originally erected under Albert Speer, still dominate the cityscape of modern Berlin, although their origin is largely unknown today.
Focusing on the time period between 1932 and 1940, the historic buildings of Voss Street were digitally recreated for this film. Aside from the architectural highlights on the street, such as the Ministry of Justice, the Bavarian legation and Palais Mosse, the film also discusses the building where Albert Speer executed his first contract for the Nazi Party in 1932. The way in which the construction of the New Reich's Chancellery influenced the character of the street is demonstrated, as well as the expansion of Voss Street that would have taken place by 1950. This expansion was never carried out, and formed part of the plans for the new Reich's Capital -- "Germania".
According to Hitler, Berlin could now finally become a 'truly’ German capital city: it was to be totally rebuilt and renamed Germania. Historians have devoted considerable attention to Hitler’s plans for the rebuilding of Berlin, but they have rarely acknowledged their effect on both the face of tourist Berlin and the meaning of a visit to the capital between 1933 and 1945. Yet it is impossible to overestimate the degree to which Berlin’s new buildings – among them, the Reich Chancellery, the Reich Sport Field, the Reich Ministry of Transportation and the Reich Aviation Ministry – became key sights for visitors to the city.
The Reichstag
Three seminal photographs of 20th century Germany with the Reichstag as a backdrop all have one other thing in common- they have all been manipulated. The first photo shows Philipp Scheidemann (SPD) proclaiming the end of the monarchy and birth of the Republic on November 9, 1918 by a window of the Reichstag. In reality, no-one would have been in a position to have heard anything he said. Later that afternoon Karl Liebknecht from the communist Spartakusbund called out the socialist Soviet republic from the palace. The centre photo of the Reichstag fire was manipulated to appear that the fire had been more widespread and devastating than it actually was, limited mainly to the central council chamber. The third shows the iconic raising of the Soviet flag which had been altered to remove the extra watch worn by the soldier as it appeared to confirm the systematic stealing of watches from Berliners. The original photo (top) was altered (bottom) by editing the watch on the soldier's right wrist.
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, whilst 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.

Reichstag fire of February 27, 1933 with scene from the film Rise of Evil depicting event.
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).
Standing inside the preserved section of tunnel that connected the Reichstag to Goering's office across the street. According to Shirer (since pretty much discredited),
From Goering’s Reichstag President’s Palace an underground passage, built to carry the central heating system, ran to the Reichstag building. Through this tunnel Karl Ernst, a former hotel bellhop who had become the Berlin S,A. leader, led a small detachment of storm troopers on the night of February 27 to the Reichstag, where they scattered gasoline and self-igniting chemicals and then made their way quickly back to the palace the way they had come. At the same time a half-witted Dutch Communist with a passion for arson, Marinus van der Lubbe, had made his way into the huge, darkened and to him unfamiliar building and set some small fires of his own. This feeble-minded pyromaniac was a godsend to the Nazis, He had been picked up by the S.A. a few days before after having been overheard in a bar boasting that he had attempted to set fire to several public buildings and that he was going to try the Reichstag next. The coincidence that the Nazis had found a demented Communist arsonist who was out to do exactly what they themselves had determined to do seems incredible but is nevertheless supported by the evidence.

The council chamber then and 2012
On August 30, 1932 and during my school trip in 2013

Reichstag Memorial

Dieter Appett's memorial directly in front of the Reichstag commemorating the 96 Social Democratic and Communist Reichstag delegates murdered under the Third Reich.

Memorial room inside the Reichstag dedicated to those members killed or victimised during the NSDAP regime.
From our 2011 class trip
May 15, 1919, amidst a protest against the Versailles treaty, and my 2013 cohort

The photo on the right shows Berliners growing crops to supplement their rations in the south face of the ruin once the debris had been cleared. The same area today is parkland as seen in my photo below:
Mass demonstration in front of the Reichstag against the Treaty of Versailles May 15, 1919
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

Russian graffiti inside the Reichstag in Berlin written by victorious Soviet soldiers in 1945. Hidden for 30 years, the graffiti was rediscovered by architect Sir Norman Foster and his team when they began work on the building in 1995 and preserved as part of the concept of the Reichstag as a "living museum" of German history.
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
In one of the rooms that keeps the preserved graffiti displayed

Sergey Larenkov is a photographer who blends photos from WWII with current ones; here are a few of his showing the Reichstag and Brandenburg Gate from
In the first week of March, 2011, a 30-year old Canadian tourist was arrested on Saturday for posing for a photograph while giving the infamous Nazi salute outside the Reichstag according to the Telegraph. Berlin police arrived on the scene within seconds, handcuffed him and took his camera's memory card. The pose is a chargeable offence of up to six months in prison, yet the man was freed after being held in custody for several hours.

Konzerthaus Clou (Markthalle III)
Here on May 1 1927 the first mass event of the Nazis in Berlin where Adolf Hitler appeared took place. It served as the replacement to the Reichstag after the latter's damage through arson. Its rebuilding in 1934 adapted the building within new, encased columns which, like the walls, were painted with horizontal stripes and indirectly illuminated, which almost seemed to float the ceiling with the illuminated coloured glass-headlights. The programme too changed with the conversion with the new focus on dances and balls for which a dance floor of 400 m² was available. At the end of the 1930s it came into the possession of the Zentralverlag of the NSDAP, Franz Eher Nachfolger GmbH, which published the Nazi propaganda papers “Völkischer Beobachter”, “Schwarzes Korps” and “Der Angriff'. The publishing house set up its Berlin office here and in the adjacent neighboring rooms, Zimmerstraße 87-89. The printing presses were in the neighbouring houses Zimmerstraße 87-89. After the war, the SED Party Party of New Germany printed its material from here.  The concert hall, which had already been closed due to the war, became to an extent involved in the extermination programme, serving in 1943 as one of the collection points in the so-called "factory" with the arrest of the last Jews, spared until then by deportation, who were still compulsorily employed in the Berlin armaments workshops until February 27. The Gestapo used the building for torture and interrogations.  Toward the end of the Second World War airplanes destroyed the facilities of the former market hall up to the front building and its western side wing on the Zimmerstraße. After the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961 directly in front of the house it lay until 1989 in the inaccessible border zone. The site became a no-go area because the Berlin Wall was built right in front of it and the border guards of the DDR used it. In the building, machines were still produced until 1992. After a reconstruction completed in mid-2006, the street and rear façade as well as the passage in the new splendour and a newly added memorial tablet inform you about the history of the house. In the building today art galleries are mainly rented out. From January 2011 to November 2014, the permanent exhibition "STASI" was on the ground floor on the history of the DDR's state security.
The Swiss Embassy near the Reichstag was used as Soviet Red Army HQ during the battle for Berlin. This building is in fact the only one to emerge intact after the war.