Showing posts with label T4. Show all posts
Showing posts with label T4. Show all posts

Sites in and around Tiergarten

 Tiergarten after the war
Soviet Memorial in Tiergarten

Re-imagined then and now

1975, guarded by Red Army troops, and today

Soviet War Memorial Tiergarten was erected on Remembrance Day, 1945, in the hope the British would simply vacate their area and let the Soviets move their zone further into here. Ironically, it was situated at the exact point where Speer had planned his north-south/east-west axis for his planned capital. The material for the monument too came from Hitler's Chancellery, and behind lie today the bodies of 2 200 soldiers. It was discovered in 1967 that below the Nazis had constructed three motorway tunnels up to 220 metres in length.
The war memorial itself was built to honour Soviet soldiers who fell in the battles against the German army in the Second World War. It was located at the 17 June Street very close to the German parliament - the Reichstag - in what would soon become West-Germany which meant that it was beyond everyday reach for the Soviet Army. To be able to visit the memorial it was agreed that Red Army troops had free passage to the memorial on certain days of remembrance. Around the time in the early 1960ies when the Berlin Wall was erected the presence of Soviet troops on the streets of Berlin awoke much anger among the West-Berliners and Soviet military vehicles was on many occasions bombarded with stones from angry protesters. In fact, in the 1970s there was the bizarre situation where a Soviet guard of honour had had a pot-shot taken at him from a passing motorist, resulting in British soldiers guarding Soviet guards guarding this monument.
The memorial is constructed as an arch with a bronze soldier on top of it. The design actually resembles the Brandenburger Gate which is located only 100 metres away.
The inscription on the side of the memorial reads:

ETERNAL GLORY TO HEROES WHO FELL IN THE STRUGGLE AGAINST THE GERMAN FASCIST INVADERS FOR THE FREEDOM AND INDEPENDENCE OF THE SOVIET UNION
 
The area in 1945 and brief footage of the site today
With the Reichstag in the background. The last two photos are looking towards the Brandenburg Gate today from the memorial, and the same view ten years after the war's end.
Students standing directly in front during our 2013 trip 
The same spot re-imagined through Photoshop 


Memorial to Homosexual Victims in Tiergarten
Paragraph 175 made homosexuality illegal in 1871; it was broadened under Nazism to allow deportation of gay men to concentration camps. 
Homosexuals, were manifestly of no racial value; between 1934 and 1938 the number prosecuted annually under Paragraph 175 of the Reich Criminal Code rose by a factor of ten to 8,000. Since criminality was viewed as hereditary, those who broke the law were also targeted as asocial. The November 1933 Law against Dangerous Habitual Criminals authorized the castration of sexual offenders. 
Ferguson (265) The War of the World
It was only completely revoked in 1994 after German reunification. In 2002, the German government formally pardoned all homosexuals convicted by the Nazis and in 2003 approved the plan for the Berlin memorial. At the memorial's unveiling in May 2009, the International Gay and Lesbian Association (ILGA) issued a statement pointing out the importance of the monument's location: "It is in the centre of the city from where decades ago the policies of extermination of homosexual people along with such groups as Jews, gypsies, Jehovah's witnesses and political dissidents, was conceived and the deadly orders were given." This central placement was an effort to end the traditional peripheralisation of the stories of gay victims of Nazi atrocities, who continued to be persecuted after the war, and who are largely left out of traditional historical accounts of the Holocaust. As Berlin mayor Klaus Wowerit, who happens to be the city's first openly gay mayor, pointed out when the memorial was first opened, the placement of this monument in the centre of Berlin was meant to form a contrast with the Nazis, who were "a society that did not abolish unjust verdicts, but partially continued to implement them; a society which did not acknowledge a group of people as victims, only because they chose another way of life."
In fact, my students and I were shocked to find NO plaque or information at all to explain what this ugly monument actually is supposed to be for; one questioned why the government had created an anti-gay monument.


Right across is the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas)
Aerial photo of the Memorial site
video
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin was designed by architect Peter Eisenman and engineers Buro Happold and consists 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.
Easyjet was forced to apologise after fashion photographs shot at the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin were published in its in-flight magazine. In the pictures, models pose in designer clothes among the concrete blocks of the "Field of Stelae". The budget airline said it was unaware of the images until they appeared in the magazine, which is published by a company called INK whose relationship with Easyjet was under review.
  Men cruising men. At the Berlin Holocaust Memorial. Note the man bottom left who stripped off


Tiergartenstraße 4
The headquarters of the Gemeinnützige Stiftung für Heil- und Anstaltspflege and the site today, taken over by a graffiti- covered husk of rusted metal intended to symbolise something intentionally left vague and meaningless.
Shortly after the start of the war, Hitler signed an order, backdated to 1 September 1939, authorising the systematic killing of mentally and physically handicapped adults and children. Authorisation to direct the program was given on Hitler’s personal stationary to Philipp Bouhler, head of the Führer’s Chancellery, and Dr. Karl Brandt, Hitler’s personal physician. The code-name of this secret program, “Aktion T-4,” derived from the address of the building here on Tiergartenstrasse 4, from which the program was directed. Killings of deformed children had already started before the war. The killings, now extended to adults as well, were conducted by lethal injection or carbon monoxide gassing at several sites disguised as hospitals or nursing homes. These killings marked a further escalation of the eugenic practices that had begun with the Sterilisation Law in 1933.
As early as 1935, [Hitler] told a senior Nazi medic that 'if war should break out, he would take up the euthanasia question and implement it'. In fact, he did not even wait for the war. In July 1939 he initiated what became known as the Aktion T-4. It was, he said, 'right that the worthless lives of seriously ill mental patients should be got rid of. Here, as with the persecution of the Jews and Gypsies, the regime encountered little popular resistance and some active support. In a poll of 200 parents of mentally retarded children conducted in Saxony, 73 per cent had answered 'yes' to the question: 'Would you agree to the painless curtailment of the life of your child if experts had established that it was suffering from incurable idiocy?' Some parents actually petitioned Hitler to allow their abnormal children to be killed. Apart from the Catholic Bishop Clemens von Galen, whose sermons against the euthanasia programme in July and August 1941 led to a temporary halt in the killings, only a handful of other individuals openly challenged 'the principle that you can kill "unproductive" human beings'. Others who objected turn out, on closer inspection, merely to have disliked the procedures involved. Some wished for formal legality - a proper decree and public 'sentencing'; others (especially those living near the asylums) simply wanted the killing to be carried out less obtrusively.                
Ferguson(264-5) 

Despite the secrecy of the programme, it was impossible to conceal killing on such a scale, as relatives demanded explanations for the sudden and unexpected deaths of their loved ones. Increasing numbers of complaints and demands for criminal investigations made it necessary to inform the Reich Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of the Interior of Hitler’s secret order which led to Hitler’s decision to end the program on 24 August 1941 after more than 70,000 patients had been killed. Killings especially of handicapped children continued in secret, however, until the end of the war. Under the code-name “Aktion 14 f 13” the killing program was also extended to Jewish inmates of concentration camps in Germany. Many of the T-4 personnel were transferred to occupied Poland where they supplied the technical expertise for the systematic killing by gas of approximately three million Jews in the extermination camps set up for the “Final Solution of the Jewish Question.

 Fascist-era embassies along Tiergartenstraße
The Spanish embassy which was constructed through Speer's Office of the Inspector-General for buildings and which shows a similar style favoured by the Nazis. It reopened in 2003 after war damage was repaired and fascist symbols removed.
The embassies of Italy and Japan respectively. The Italian was the first to have been completed in the Tiergarten in 1938. It was rebuilt in the 1990s but kept its fascist symbols. According to David Irving in his book Göring: A Biography, this was the site of one of Goering's greatest humiliations,
when he saw the fabulous decoration that he coveted, the diamond-studded Collar of the Annunziata, bestowed at the Italian embassy upon his smirking rival [Ribbentrop]. He took it as a deliberate slight and raised hell at every level up to the king of Italy, being mollified only by the award, twelve months later, of the identical Collar in consolation.
The Japanese embassy on the right too maintains its symbols of fascist ideology a reminder of the man-made tsunami it had launched upon humanity beginning in 1931 which required two atomic bombs and countless allied lives and suffering to put an end to. On November 24, 1937 Hitler attended a reception here, given by the Japanese Ambassador Mushakoji in Berlin on the anniversary of the Anti-Comintern Pact.
The former Embassy of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia at Rauchstraße in 1938 and today, where it serves as the offices of the German Council on Foreign Relations ( Deutsche Gesellschaft für Auswärtige Politik, DGAP). The building was completed in 1938/39 by Werner March, the architect of Berlin’s Olympic Stadium, as the diplomatic mission for the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. The property at Rauchstraße 17 was owned by the Mendelssohn-Bartholdy family until 1938. The family was forced to sell the property to the German Reich for 170,000 reichsmarks shortly before they emigrated. The property at Rauchstraße 18 was handed over to the German Reich in accordance with a 1940 expropriation resolution. Until the occupation of Yugoslavia in 1941, Ivo Andric, who would later win the Nobel Prize for Literature, was stationed in the new building as Yugoslav ambassador. Afterwards, the building was used by German Reich and party officials. After Germany’s surrender in 1945, the building was given back to the People’s Republic of Yugoslavia. The Yugoslav military mission resided in the building until 1953, when it moved to Grunewald.  Beginning in 1953, the building housed the Supreme Restitution Court of the Allied Forces in Berlin. On June 29, 1964, the court accepted the Mendelssohn-Bartholdy family’s reimbursement claim and ordered the People’s Republic of Yugoslavia to cede a co-ownership share in the building.

Berlin Victory Column (Siegessäule)

Designed by Heinrich Strack after 1864 to commemorate the Prussian victory in the Danish-Prussian war, by the time it was inaugurated on 2 September 1873 Prussia had also defeated Austria in the Austro-Prussian War and France in the Franco-Prussian War (1870/1871), giving the statue a new purpose. In 1939 the Nazis relocated the pillar to its present location at the Großer Stern (Great Star), a large intersection on the visual city axis that leads from the former Berliner Stadtschloss (Berlin City Palace) through the Brandenburg Gate to the western parts of Berlin. At the same time, the pillar was augmented by another 7.5 meters, giving it its present height of 66.89 meters. The monument survived World War II without much damage. The relocation of the monument probably saved it from destruction, as its old site in front of the Reichstag was completely destroyed in the war.
[B]y by 28 April, troops of the 3rd Shock Army, advancing from the northern districts, were in sight of the Siegessaule column in the Tiergarten. Red Army soldiers nicknamed it the `tall woman' because of the statue of winged victory on the top. The German defenders were now reduced to a strip less than five kilometres in width and fifteen in length. It ran from Alexanderplatz in the east to Charlottenburg and the Reichssportsfeld in the west, from where Artur Axmann's Hitler Youth detachments desperately defended the bridges over the Havel. Weidling's artillery commander, Colonel Wohlermann, gazed around in horror from the gun platform at the top of the vast concrete Zoo flak tower. `One had a panoramic view of the burning, smouldering and smoking great city, a scene which again and again shook one to the core.' Yet General Krebs still pandered to Hitler's belief that Wenck's army was about to arrive from the south-west. Beevor (340) 

Before the war with the Eiserner Hindenburg in front and after. The monument fell within the French section of Berlin, given them when the British realised they were growing bankrupt from the war and required assistance.
The French perpetrated a few acts of childish spite: they mutilated a few inscriptions on the Siegessäule – or Victory Column – in the Tiergarten, which commemorated German triumph in the Franco-German War, and festooned it with French tricolours. In Schwanenwerder they found a fragment of the Tuileries Palace which had been burned down by the Paris Communards in 1871, and removed a high-minded panel that talked of the fate of nations. The Germans themselves did not waste much time on the French – they realised they were second-division conquerors.

Wehrmacht HQ (Bendler Block)
video video
Tour of the Bendler Block (left) and trailer for the Tom Cruise ego-project Valkyrie for which the bendlerblock provided the controversial location.

The building in 1942 and now. The Bendler Block, site of Hitler's speech of February 3, 1933, on "Lebensraum in the east," is best remembered as the centre of the attempt to overthrow the National Socialist regime on July 20, 1944. The coup instantly collapsed, and Hitler dispatched various forces to round up the plotters and the plot organisers. Stauffenberg, Olbricht, Albrecht Mertz von Quirnheim, and Lieutenant Werner von Haeften were caught late in the evening and summarily executed by firing squad in the courtyard of the Bendler Block (the War Ministry building). Hitler ultimately oversaw the purge and execution (in some cases, accompanied by show trials) of some 5,000 persons he believed were implicated in the plot. All were known opponents of the Nazi regime. Many were tortured to death. Some were hanged by the neck using piano wire. Stauffenberg and the other plotters are remembered in modern Germany as heroes of the anti-Nazi resistance and today the courtyard in the centre of the Bendler Block is dedicated to the memory of the officers executed here on the night of July 20, 1944:
Memorial in the courtyard inside the former Wehrmacht HQ where Von Stauffenberg was shot after his unsuccessful plot.
In the courtyard below in the dim rays of the blackout-hooded headlights of an Army car the four officers were quickly dispatched by a firing squad. Eyewitnesses say there was much tumult and shouting, mostly by the guards, who were in a hurry because of the danger of a bombing attack – British planes had been over Berlin almost every night that summer. Stauffenberg died crying, ”Long live our sacred Germany!”

 Colonel Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg's office within with the swastika motif remaining on the parquet, and the memorial to the members of the July Plot shot without.

The photo on the left was taken the day after the summary executions. You can see the mound of sand left over from construction work in front of which the the condemned men stood before being shot down. The photo on the right shows the ϟϟ and Wehrmacht.
Zhukov's turn at the end of the war whilst nearby damage from the battle of Berlin left untouched.
The military resistance has been criticised by historians for failing to act until the war was lost and for pursuing unrealistic nationalist goals. The following selection from a Gestapo report lists Stauffenberg’s conditions for a negotiated peace allegedly transmitted to England by unnamed emissaries in May 1944. They include restoration of Germany’s 1914 borders, the retention of Austria and the Sudetenland, and continuation of the war, if necessary, in the east:


Gestapo report on Stauffenberg’s relations with foreign countries, 2 August 1944

The recent interrogation of Captain [Hermann] Kaiser produces evidence that Stauffenberg had two contacts with the English, via two go-betweens. These contacts are now being investigated in detail. On May 25, Stauffenberg had already worked out a memo for Kaiser as to matters of negotiation with the enemy:

  1. 1  Immediate abandonment of aerial warfare.
  2. 2  Abandonment of invasion plans.
  3. 3  Avoidance of further bloodshed.
  4. 4  Continuing function of defence strength in the East. Evacuation of all occupied regions in the North, West, and South.
  5. 5  Renunciation of any occupation.
  6. 6  Free government, independent, self-chosen constitution.
  7. 7  Full cooperation in the carrying out of truce conditions and in peace preparations.
  8. 8  Reich border of 1914 in the east.
    Retention of Austria and the Sudetenland within the Reich. Autonomy of Alsace-Lorraine.
    Acquisition of the Tyrol as far as Bozen, Meran.

  9. 9  Vigorous reconstruction with joint efforts for European reconstruction.
  10. 10  Nations to deal with own criminals.
  11. 11  Restoration of honour, self-respect, and respect for others.
At the end of June 1944, Kaiser learned from [Carl Friedrich] Goerdeler that inquiries about the clique of conspirators had been made from highest English quarters. Stauffenberg transmitted:

  1. (a)  a list of individuals who were to be participants in future negotiations with England;
  2. (b)  the wish that Austria remain with the Reich;
    (c)  the request that a reckoning with the war criminals should be left to the future German government.
Kaiser’s diary, which covered a period from May 9 to July 15, and which contains an abundance of clues, is being made use of at the moment.