Showing posts with label Staatsoper. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Staatsoper. Show all posts

Unter den Linden

From Berlin in Bildern published in 1938
Left: "BANNER OVER BERLIN - A BRIGHT, SUNSHINY DAY, WITH UNTER DEN LINDEN IN GALA DRESS By far the most conspicuous is Germany's swastika-emblazoned flag. The Zeughaus (Armory) at right, begun in 1694, is now a military museum and Hall of Fame. It holds Hindenburg's death mask and busts of famous warriors and statesmen, as well as weapons, armour, and uniforms from the Middle Ages to the World War. Here, too, is Napoleon's hat, found near Waterloo!" From a National Geographic article in the February 1937 issue titled "Changing Berlin." The right shows the street after the war.

Prince Heinrich Palace (Palais Prinz Heinrich) and Humboldt University (Humboldt-Universität)
Humboldt Universität is Berlin’s oldest university where Marx and Engels studied and the Brothers Grimm and Albert Einstein taught. It occupies the palace of Prince Heinrich, brother of King Frederick the Great, whose equestrian statue stands on Unter den Linden outside the university. It was Frederick who created the ensemble of stately structures framing Bebelplatz, the site of the first big official Nazi book- burning in May 1933. A simple but poignant memorial by Micha Ullmann consisting of an underground library with empty bookshelves commemorates this event. Surrounding the square are the baroque Alte Königliche Bibliothek, now part of the university; the Staatsoper Unter den Linden (State Opera, built 1743; and the domed St Hedwigskirche, partly modelled on Rome’s Pantheon and Berlin’s only Catholic church until 1854.  Just east of here, the turreted Friedrichswerdersche Kirche (at Werderscher Markt) shelters 19th- century sculptures and an exhibit on the life and accomplishments of Karl Friedrich Schinkel.
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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 a symbolic act of ominous significance, on May 10, 1933 the students burned upwards of 25,000 volumes of "un-German" books, presaging an era of state censorship and control of culture. On the night of May 10, in most university towns, nationalist students marched in torchlight parades "against the un-German spirit." The scripted rituals called for high Nazi officials, professors, rectors, and student leaders to address the participants and spectators. At the meeting places, students threw the pillaged and unwanted books into the bonfires with great joyous ceremony, band-playing, songs, "fire oaths," and incantations.
Not all book burnings took place on May 10, as the German Student Association had planned. Some were postponed a few days because of rain. Others, based on local chapter preference, took place on June 21, the summer solstice, a traditional date of celebration. Nonetheless, in 34 university towns across Germany the "Action against the un-German Spirit" was a success, enlisting widespread newspaper coverage. And in some places, notably Berlin, radio broadcasts brought the speeches, songs, and ceremonial incantations "live" to countless German listeners.

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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.)

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. After the Kristallnacht pogroms that took place over the night of 9–10 November 1938, Bernhard Lichtenberg, a canon of the cathedral chapter of St Hedwig since 1931, prayed publicly for Jews in the evening prayer following. Lichtenberg was later jailed by the Nazis and died on the way to the concentration camp at Dachau. In 1965 Lichtenberg's remains were transferred to the crypt at St. Hedwig's.  The cathedral burned out completely in 1943 during air raids on Berlin and was reconstructed from 1952 up to 1963.
It was here after Reichskristallnacht that Father Bernhard Lichtenberg 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 he collapsed and died while in transit, on 5 November 1943. Hus tomb is situated here in the crypt.
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.
Comparing the site today with that shown in the 1938 book Berlin in Bildern would not indicate such damage given the extensive reconstruction that has taken place since the war.
It's when comparing the Deutscher Dom then and now that it becomes evident. The last photograph shows the building site as recently as 1994.
Schwimmwagen with the insignia of the 11.SS-Freiw.Pz.Gren.Div."Nordland" and the tactical marking of a motorised divisional headquarters with the Deutscher Dom in the background, and today.
Across the street is the statue of Hermann von Helmholtz in front of the main building, the entrance of which is little changed from the time it was the setting for a Nazi rally. 
Just in front is the statue of Friedrich the Great, unveiled in 1851 and which managed to survive the war due to the protective sand-filled house constructed to deflect the bombs. It had been removed to the gardens of Sans Souci in Potsdam by the disapproving DDR authorities, only to be returned a few feet east in 1980.


Neue Wache

Me with the 1.Kompanie ϟϟ Adolf Hitler en guarde and my students after the war
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.
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Inside, during the war and today where it has a memorial to the Victims of Fascism and Militarism located directly under the building's oculus, exposing it to the elements to further represent the suffering of civilians during the war. The memorial itself with its Christian-like pieta of mother and dead son would hardly seem appropriate to non-Christian victims.
Koselleck argued that a national symbol of hope in the form of a Pieta — based on depictions of Mary mourning Jesus — must inevitably symbolize the Christian message of salvation. Thus the memorial represents "the very rupture that divides Christians from Jews. Or should the (surviving) Jews be obliged to recognize the dead son as their saviour?" And not only Jews were implicitly excluded from the memorial; so were the women who died in World War II. The portrayal of a mother mourning her dead son was appropriate memorial for World War I, when most of those who died were soldiers, but after a second war in which millions of women were themselves killed in bombing, mass executions, and gas chambers, "the surviving mother cannot be the central figure of our central memorial."
Ladd (223) The Ghosts of Berlin
Zeughaus

In 1828 and today
 The courtyard then and now

Hitler speaking in the courtyard March 1941 and today, minus the staircase

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 Fuehrer 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. 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
  Lustgarten, Old Museum and Berlin Cathedral
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.
In fact, Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf (381) that

In Berlin, after the War, I was present at a mass-demonstration of Marxists in front of the Royal Palace and in the Lustgarten. A sea of red flags, red armlets and red flowers was in itself sufficient to give that huge assembly of about 120,000 persons an outward appearance of strength. I was now able to feel and understand how easily the man in the street succumbs to the hypnotic magic of such a grandiose piece of theatrical presentation.
William Shirer records in Rise And Fall Of The Third Reich (3) that
On Sunday, January 29, a hundred thousand workers crowded into the Lustgarten in the centre of Berlin to demonstrate their opposition to making Hitler Chancellor. One of their leaders attempted to get in touch with General von Hammerstein to propose joint action by the Army and organized labour should Hitler be named to head a new government. Once before, at the time of the Kapp putsch in 1920, a general strike had saved the Republic after the government had fled the capital.
In February, 1933, 200,000 people demonstrated against Hitler: shortly afterwards public opposition to the regime was banned. Under the Nazis, the Lustgarten was converted into a site for mass rallies. In 1934, it was paved over and Hitler would address mass rallies of up to a million people there. By the end of World War II in 1945, the Lustgarten was a bomb-pitted wasteland. The German Democratic Republic left Hitler's paving in place, but planted lime trees around the parade ground to reduce its militaristic appearance. The whole area was renamed Marx-Engels-Platz. The City Palace was demolished and later replaced by the modernist Palace of the Republic on part of the site.

The statue beside Hitler is still there; photo taken 2007
 Propaganda Minister Goebbels and Hitler speaking on the steps of the Altes Museum in 1938
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Video of Hitler speaking at the Lustgarten when, at noon on January 30 1936, a large crowd of SA men marched up in the Berlin Lustgarten, with Goebbels leading them, shouting their battle cry: “Fuehrer befiehl! Wir folgen!” Hitler began his speech with the following words:
Men of the SA! National Socialists! Party Comrades! When we take a retrospective look today, it does not end in the year 1933, but must go back further. What was a moment of surprise back then for many who did not know our Movement, was for us and for you, my Old Fighters, but the hour of fulfilment. There were many, particularly outside Germany, who may have been amazed on January 30 and in the following weeks and months at the miracle which had taken place before their very eyes. Yet you, my comrades, and I had together awaited this hour for a decade, had believed in it and placed our hopes in it. For us, it was not a surprise but rather the culmination of fourteen years of hard fighting. We set forth not blind, but seeing and believing. And thus when I look back on that day I am gripped with a deep gratitude, gratitude to those who enabled me to experience this day three years ago. Today they are gathered here from throughout the German Reich as the pioneers and banner bearers of our Movement, the two eldest from each storm troop. They all experienced first-hand the evolution of our Movement, the evolution of its struggle, its fight and its conquests. And I myself stood over this fight for fourteen years. I conducted the fight for fourteen years; I also founded this SA and, in its ranks and at its fore, led the Movement onward for fourteen years. I have come to know you. And I know: everything you are, you are through me, and everything I am, I am through you alone.
Hitler ended his speech with the following “battle cry”:
And I would like to ask you to join me once again in uttering the battle cry for what means most to us in this world, for which we once fought and struggled and triumphed, which we did not forget in the time of defeat, which we loved in the time of need, which we adored in the time of disgrace, and which is sacred and dear to us now in the time of victories. Our German Reich, our German Volk, and our one and only National Socialist Movement: Sieg Heil! Sieg Heil! Sieg Heil!

In front of the old museum

During my history class's 2013 trip to Berlin


The planned extension to the museum by the Nazis

Then and now from the same vantage point

May Day 1933, 1936 and 1938

Photographs taken from a National Geographic article from February 1937 entitled "Changing Berlin". The caption for the left reads: "MAY DAY MASSES JAM THE BERLIN LUSTGARTEN TO HEAR ADOLF HITLER SPEAK. Decorated with the swastika sign and guarded by troops, the speaker's stand appears in the far background, on the broad steps of the Old Museum. At the right appears a corner of the Berlin Cathedral. The Maypole, decorated with bunting and swastikas, represents a revival of an old folk custom formerly observed chiefly in the rural districts." That on the right reads: "OLYMPIC GAMES OPEN AT BERLIN WHEN THE 'TORCHBEARER' RUNS UP WITH FIRE CARRIED FROM SOUTHERN GREECE- Greek girls kindled the first flame by the heat of sun rays at the Temple of Zeus, at Olympia. Relay runners, about 2,900 in all, bore the torch for some 1,800 miles through Athens, Sophia, Belgrade, Budapest, Vienna, Prague, and Dresden, and then to the Lustgarten in Berlin."

During the 1936 Olympic Games and the area today, taken from atop the Berlin Cathedral.
Speaking to a vast audience in the Berlin Lustgarten (a huge square in the city centre) on 1 May – once an international day of celebration of labouring people, now redubbed the ‘National Day of Celebration of the German People’ – he posed the rhetorical question: ‘I ask myself,’ he declared, ‘who are then these elements who wish to have no rest, no peace, and no understanding, who must continually agitate and sow mistrust? Who are they actually?’ Immediately picking up the implication, the crowd bayed: ‘The Jews.’ Hitler began again: ‘I know ...’ and was interrupted by cheering that lasted for several minutes. When at last he was able to continue, he picked up his sentence, though – the desired effect achieved – now in quite different vein: ‘I know it is not the millions who would have to take up weapons if the intentions of these agitators were to succeed. Those are not the ones ...’ 
The summer of 1936 was, however, as Hitler knew only too well, no time to stir up a new antisemitic campaign. In August, the Olympic Games were due to be staged in Berlin. Sport would be turned into a vehicle of nationalist politics and propaganda as never before. Nazi aesthetics of power would never have a wider audience. With the eyes of the world on Berlin, it was an opportunity not to be missed to present the new Germany’s best face to its hundreds of thousands of visitors from across the globe. No expense or effort had been spared in this cause. The positive image could not be endangered by putting the ‘dark’ side of the regime on view. Open anti-Jewish violence, such as had punctuated the previous summer, could not be permitted. With some difficulties, antisemitism was kept under wraps. The antisemitic zealots in the party had temporarily to be reined in. Other objectives were for the time being more important. Hitler could afford to bide his time in dealing with the Jews. 
Kershaw (358-9) Hitler
 Opening of the “Soviet Paradise” ( "Sowjetparadies") exhibit on May 8, 1942, an exhibition and a propaganda film organised by the Reichspropagandaleitung of the NSDAP and displayed from May 8 to June 21, 1942. Its goal was to show "poverty, misery, depravity and need" in the Soviet Union and to justify the war against the Soviet Union. According to official information, 1.3 million people visited the show.  On May 18 a Jewish-Communist resistance group called "Baum-Group" organized an arson, that only caused little damage. At least 33 people were executed. A short propaganda film was created to supplement the exhibition.
Hitler’s mood was ripe for Goebbels to bring up once more the question of the deportation of Berlin’s remaining Jews. The involvement of a number of young Jews (associated with a Communist-linked resistance group led by Herbert Baum) in the arson attempt at the anti- Bolshevik exhibition ‘The Soviet Paradise’ in Berlin’s Lustgarten on 18 May enabled the Propaganda Minister to emphasize the security dangers if the 40,000 or so Jews he reckoned were still in the Reich capital were not deported. He had been doing his best, he had noted a day earlier, to have as many Jews as possible from his domain ‘shipped off to the east’. Goebbels now pleaded for ‘a more radical Jewish policy’ and, he said, ‘I push at an open door with the Führer,’ who told Speer to find replacements for the Jews in the armaments industry with ‘foreign workers’ as soon as possible. 
Kershaw (714) Hitler
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 my class's photograph on the right for comparison, is still ongoing as of 2013. 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.
Berlin's preservationists saw the proposed reconstruction of the royal palace as a clear case of the falsification of history. For them, and for other opponents, the project amounted to a declaration that the entire existence of East Germany had been some kind of aberration, not worthy of mention and best wiped from the urban tableau. Meeting at the old State Library just down Unter den Linden while the canvas facade was going up, many of them scorned the effort to erase authentic traces of one history in order to re-create a different one. For the preservationists, the proper course of action was to keep the Palace of the Republic, an authentic, existing monument... It was, after all, the site of the GDR's historic decision to join the Federal Republic in 1990. One of the leading Christian Democrats in the Berlin legislature immediately denounced any protection for this "architectural monstrosity" as an expression of "historical ignorance." (Ignorance of which history? Note that both sides make this charge.)
It was from the palace that Karl Liebknecht heralded a ‘‘free socialist Republic’’ on 9 November (Philipp Scheidemann had already proclaimed ‘‘the German Republic’’ from the Reichstag) before helping to found the Spartacus League two days later.
It appears that this was a target of Marinus van der Lubbe days before he set fire to the Reichstag with the dire historical consequences. A report of this fire was published on 27 February, 1933:
  It has only now become known that a small fire broke out on Saturday in an office room on the fifth floor of the Berliner Schloss, which was quickly put out by a fireman stationed on the premises. The origin of the fire is not yet fully explained. But it is thought to have been an act of incendiarism. One hour before the fire started, the caretaker had made his round through the Schloss and had even passed through the room. At the time there was nothing suspicious to be seen. Soon afterwards the room was in flames. Investigation showed that there was a burning firelighter on the window-sill, and another under the window and also on the steam pipes.  The police investigation has not yet been concluded.
 The Stadtschloß bedecked in swastikas in 1937 and after the war.

Berlin Cathedral
Less than a week after becoming chancellor, Hitler came here to attend a funeral service for SA Sturmführer Maikowski and Senior Police Officer Zauritz, both of whom had been shot in political riots following the torchlight procession of January 30.
It was also here that Göring held his wedding ceremony to Emmy Sonnemann:
Thirty thousand troops lined the route as he drove past in an open car awash with narcissus and tulips. Associated Press correspondent Louis P. Lochner wrote to his daughter: “You had the feeling that an emperor was marrying.” “A visitor to Berlin,” echoed the British ambassador, sitting in the diplomatic gallery facing the floodlit marble altar, “might well have thought . . . that he had stumbled upon preparations for a royal wedding.”
Insensible to Nazi party feelings, Göring had insisted on a religious ceremony (although he granted the Reich bishop, Müller, only five minutes for his sermon). The wedding album shows Hitler standing bareheaded behind him in the cathedral, his postman’s hat nonchalantly upended on the floor beside him, his hands clasped in their familiar station below his belt- buckle. Göring’s hair was neatly smoothed back, a broad sash dividing the areas of saucer-sized medals covering his chest. As the newlyweds emerged from the cathedral, two hundred planes flew overhead, followed by two storks released by an irreverent Richthofen Squadron veteran.    Irving (223)

During the 1936 Olympic Games and standing at the site in 2007.
Hitler in front of the Dom during the 1932 national election and during our 2013 class trip
The Berliner Dom festooned with swastikas with a giant maypole in front from private photographs taken by a Norwegian tourist in 1937.
During WWII the cathedral had been bombed by the Allies and badly damaged. After a provisional roof was installed to protect what remained and reconstruction started in 1975. The restoration of the interior was begun in 1984 and in 1993 the church reopened. During reconstruction, the original design was modified into a simpler, shorter form.

Berlin State Opera (Staatsoper)

During the Third Reich, members of Jewish origin were dismissed from the ensemble. Many German musicians associated with the opera went into exile, including the conductors Otto Klemperer and Fritz Busch. During the Third Reich, Robert Heger, Herbert von Karajan (1939-1945) and Johannes Schüler were the "Staatskapellmeister".
Hitler gave spoke here a number of times- on January 3 1935, he addressed the German Leadership beginning with a long version of the “party narrative,” enumerated his own achievements, and then, ostensibly close to tears, confessed that he would not be able to continue the work of reconstructing Germany unless all of the leaders of the Party, the State and the Wehrmacht represented a single unit devoted to no one else but him. As on the earlier occasion of the Strasser crisis, Hitler had apparently publicly threatened to commit suicide. In any case, the speech accomplished its purpose, due in no small part to the fact that Hitler had placed the necessity for an en-bloc effort within the context of the approaching Saar plebiscite. His performance was greeted with thunderous applause as Rudolf Hess, who chaired the rally, subsequently gave the floor to Göring, who—again, just as during the Strasser crisis— expressed the unanimity of all present in moving words. Particular emphasis was put on the fact that he was speaking as a “high-ranking National Socialist leader and at the same time as a Reichswehr General and a Member of the Reich Cabinet”—thus personifying the synthesis of all “German leaders” present—when he read his “Address of Gratitude and Devotion.”
Hitler’s birthday that year [1944], his fifty-fifth, had the usual trappings and ceremonials. Goebbels had Berlin emblazoned with banners and a new slogan of resounding pathos: ‘Our walls broke, but our hearts didn’t.’ The State Opera house on Unter den Linden was festively decorated for the usual celebration, attended by dignitaries from state, party, and Wehrmacht. Goebbels portrayed Hitler’s historic achievements. The Berlin Philharmonia, conducted by Hans Knappertsbusch, played Beethoven’s ‘Eroica’ Symphony. But the mood among the Nazi faithful at such events was contrived. Goebbels was well aware from reports from the regional Propaganda Offices that the popular mood was ‘very critical and sceptical’, and that ‘the depression in the broad masses’ had reached ‘worrying levels’.
Kershaw (799) Hitler
 On the evening of  12 April [1945], the Berlin Philharmonic gave its last performance. Albert Speer, who organized it, had invited Grand Admiral Donitz and also Hitler's adjutant, Colonel von Below. The hall was properly lit for the occasion, despite the electricity cuts. `The concert took us back to another world,' wrote Below. The programme included Beethoven's Violin Concerto, Bruckner's 8th Symphony - (Speer later claimed that this was his warning signal to the orchestra to escape Berlin immediately after the performance to avoid being drafted into the Volkssturm) - and the finale to Wagner's Gotterdlimmerung. Even if Wagner did not bring the audience back to present reality, the moment of escapism did not last long. It is said that, after the performance, the Nazi Party had organised Hitler Youth members to stand in uniform with baskets of cyanide capsules and offer them to members of the audience as they left.
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After the war and today, and video from a school fieldtrip conducted in 2009.

Rotes Rathaus
This is the site where Hermann Göring married Emmy Sonneman on April 10, 1935, with Hitler acting as best man. The building was heavily damaged by Allied bombing in World War II and rebuilt to the original plans between 1951 and 1956. The Neues Stadthaus, which survived the bombing and had formerly been the head office of Berlin's municipal fire insurance Feuersozietät in Parochialstraße served as the temporary city hall for the post-war city government for all the sectors of Berlin until September 1948. Following that time, it housed only those of the Soviet sector. The reconstructed Rotes Rathaus, then located in the Soviet sector, served as the town hall of East Berlin, while the Rathaus Schöneberg was seat of the West Berlin Senate. After German reunification, the administration of reunified Berlin officially moved into the Rotes Rathaus on 1 October 1991.
The fiercest fighting broke out in the city's centre on April 29. The Town Hall was assaulted by the 1008th Rifle Regiment (commander Colonel V.N. Borisov) and the 1010th Regiment (commander Colonel M.F. Zagorodsky) of the 266th Rifle Division.
Captain M.V. Bobylev's battalion was set the mission of breaking through to the Town Hall and capturing it jointly with Major M.A. Alexeyev's battalion supported by tanks and self-propelled artillery. Our men were met by such a strong avalanche of fire that further advance along the street was simply impossible.
It was decided to break into the Town Hall through the walls by breaching them with explosives. Under enemy fire, the sappers blew in the walls one by one. The smoke had not had time to disperse before assault groups rushed through the breaches and cleared the building adjacent to the Town Hall from the enemy after hand-to-hand fighting.
Tanks and self-propelled guns were committed to battle. Firing a few shots they smashed the heavy wrought-iron gates of the Town Hall, breaching the walls whilst setting up a smokescreen. The whole building was engulfed in think smoke.
Lieutenant K. Madenov's platoon was the first to break in. Privates N.P. Kondrashev., K.Ye. Kryutchenko, I.F. Kashpurovsky and others acted bravely together with the daring lieutenant. Every room was fought for.
Komsomol organiser of the 1008th Rifle Regiment's 1st Battalion, Junior Lieutenant K.G. Gromov, climbed up on the roof and, having thrown down the Nazi flag on the pavement, hoisted the Red Banner. Konstantin Gromov was granted the title Hero of the Soviet Union for heroism and courage displayed in these battles.       Marshall G. Zhukov, 1974
View of Berlin from atop the Rotes Rathaus in 1905 and 1987....
 
...and 1922 and today
How it appeared in 1937 from the February 1937 National Geographic issue entitled "Changing Berlin."  

Speer's plans for Germania
From the "Mythos Germania: Shadows and Traces of the Imperial Capital'' in Berlin, this was the model that was built for the movie "Der Untergang"and later used in the movie "Speer & Er" with some additions. It shows the re-planning of Berlin by architect Albert Speer and Adolf Hitler which was to be renamed Germania. The plan was to make a North/South axis with a triumphal arch and the so-called Great Hall at the northern end of the avenue.

Standing in front of the original model
 Berlin 1950
Stills from David Barsalla's Final Year Project on BA ANIMATION at Bournemouth University: Germania Project (2003-04) 
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Albert Speer's Lampposts
Pretty much all that's left of Speer's mark on Berlin: a double row of lampposts along the Strasse des 17. Juni designed by him. Around half of the original 703 of these lamps survived the second World War. An original design by Speer, approved by Hitler himself...

Russian Embassy


In 1938 and with students in 2011. In 1837 Tsar Nicholas I bought the building which housed the embassy and served as the Royal residence of the Tsar and his family. It was vacant during the Great War after which it reopened as the embassy of the newly-formed Soviet Union. After Operation Barbarossa the ϟϟ sealed off the building and Soviet citizens in Berlin were exchanged for staff members of the Reich embassy in Moscow. During the war it then served as the Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories under Alfred Rosenberg. Gauleiter Dr. Meyer and Reich Office Director Dr. Leibbrandt from the ministry attended the Wannsee Conference in January 1942; later that year the building was bombed. After the war the USSR built a new building on the site and moved its embassy into it in 1952.
Incidentally, it was near this site on the afternoon of May 7 1866 that Ferdinand Cohen-Blind shot Bismarck twice from behind after the latter had just reported to King Wilhelm and was walking home. Bismarck spun around and grabbed his attacker, who was able to fire three more shots before soldiers from the 1st Battalion of the 2nd Guards rushed up and took him into custody. Bismarck continued on his way home. Later that night, he allowed the King's physician, Gustav von Lauer, to examine him. Lauer noted that the first three bullets had only grazed Bismarck's body and the last two had ricocheted off the ribs and had caused no major injuries. Some sources claim that Bismarck was saved because he had worn a bulletproof vest.

German soldiers across the road in 1945 and as the embassy appears today.
The Lenin bust on the Behrenstrasse side of the embassy has recently been removed

Alte Kommandantur
The Berlin Garrison and headquarters of Lt. General and Berlin City Commandant, Paul von Hase, later executed for his role in the failed July Plot of 1944. The building was heavily damaged during the war and destroyed in order to make room for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the DDR. In 1995, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of East Germany itself was demolished in order to recreate the Werderscher Markt area. This has become extremely controversial:
Missing landmarks have reappeared at either end of Unter den Linden, from the commercial ventures of the Adlon Hotel on Pariser Platz (built 1905–07, rebuilt 1997) to Bertelsmann’s Berlin offices behind the newly recreated façades of the Alte Kommandantur Haus (built 1653, thoroughly remodelled 1873–74, and rebuilt 2001–02). The latter proudly flaunts the address Unter den Linden 1 on its bogus neo-Renaissance front while its sleek modern glass and steel interior literally pops out behind. Bertelsmann, masquerading as a nineteenth-century aristocratic mansion, will soon be joined by the Schloss and, just a bit to the south, a few hundred feet along the Spree canal, by Karl Friedrich Schinkel’s Bauakademie, the architecture school he designed in the 1830s. Of all the projects realised and proposed, this last is the most debated among Berlin’s architects, who hold out faith that somehow its reconstruction can escape the prevailing sense of ersatz luxury and Disneyfication of Berlin’s historical centre that the Adlon and Bertelsmann ventures exude.
The Berlin Journal, Spring 2005
video
Von Hase before Freisler's "People's Court" on August 8, 1944. Lt. General von Hase (among others) was found guilty and hanged later that day at Ploetzensee Prison.

Café Kranzler on Unter den Linden and Friedrichstraße during its heyday, immediately after the war, and in its current incarnation. 
 Friedrichstraße itself before and after the war 
 After the war and during our 2013 school trip
 
On the corner of Friedrichstraße and Reinhardtstraße
 
Bahnhof Friedrichstraße from Berlin in Bildern, published in 1938, and today


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.
The Admiralspalast (Haus der Presse during Soviet rule) further down Friedrichstraße in 1949 on the occasion of Stalin's 70th birthday and today
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 reflecting 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.