Nazi Sites around Pariser Platz and Reichstag


The Brandenburg Gate in a Nazi poster and my students from the Bavarian International School during our 2018 annual trip. On January 30, 1933, the National Socialists celebrated their so-called "seizure of power" with a torchlight procession of the SA through the Brandenburg Gate. As part of the transformation of Berlin into the so-called "world capital Germania", the gate was to be located on the east-west axis and a seven-kilometre section between the Brandenburg Gate and Adolf-Hitler-Platz (Theodor-Heuss-Platz today) was expanded and put into operation in 1939. In the further expansion of the East-West axis the side pillared halls were to have been removed from the Brandenburg Gate and the traffic then would not only have passed through, but also around the gate. During the Second World War in 1942 a plaster cast was taken from the Quadriga, a chariot drawn by four horses sculpted by Johann Gottfried Schadow; through bombing and the battle for Berlin the Quadriga was severely damaged several times. In fact, of Schadow's original work only a horse's head was preserved which is on display today in the Märkisches Museum. The building itself was damaged with a pillar shot up.
 
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 metres, 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 my 2018 class trip and Provisional President Friedrich Ebert saluting returning troops from the war exactly a century earlier on November 10, contributing to the so-called stab-in-the-back myth (Dolchstoßlegende) with the declaration that "no enemy has vanquished you" (kein Feind hat euch überwunden!) and "they returned undefeated from the battlefield" (sie sind vom Schlachtfeld unbesiegt zurückgekehrt). The latter quote was shortened to im Felde unbesiegt ("undefeated on the battlefield") as a semi-official slogan of the Reichswehr. Ebert had meant these sayings as a tribute to the German soldier, but it only contributed to the prevailing feeling that Germany had been betrayed at home, widely believed and promulgated in right-wing circles that the German Army did not lose the Great War on the battlefield but was instead betrayed by the civilians on the home front, especially the republicans who overthrew the monarchy in the German Revolution of 1918–19. Advocates denounced the German government leaders who signed the Armistice on November 11, 1918, as the "November Criminals" (November­verbrecher). 

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 March 14 by a general strike that doomed the action. Kapp resigned on March 17 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 can be seen on the right when Goebbels had spoken in front only months earlier on the Tag des Deutschen Volkssturm of November 12, 1944. 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, `Hande 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.
Bavarian International School at the Brandenburg Gate
Then and during my 2011 school trip

On August 1st 1936 Hitler opened the Summer Olympic Games held in Berlin (and my students during my 2013 Bavarian International School tour)
which afforded the Nazis a golden opportunity to impress the world with the achievements of the Third Reich, and they made the most of it. The signs ”Juden unerwuenscht” (Jews Not Welcome) were quietly hauled down from the shops, hotels, beer gardens and places of public entertainment, the persecution of the Jews and of the two Christian churches temporarily halted, and the country put on its best behaviour. No previous games had seen such a spectacular organization nor such a lavish display of entertainment. Goering, Ribbentrop and Goebbels gave dazzling parties for the foreign visitors – the Propaganda Minister’s ”Italian Night” on the Pfaueninsel near Wannsee gathered more than a thousand guests at dinner in a scene that resembled the Arabian Nights. The visitors, especially those from England and America, were greatly impressed by what they saw: apparently a happy, healthy, friendly people united under Hitler – a far different picture, they said, than they had got from reading the newspaper dispatches from Berlin. And yet underneath the surface, hidden from the tourists during those splendid late-summer Olympic days in Berlin and indeed overlooked by most Germans or accepted by them with a startling passivity, there seemed to be – to a foreigner at least – a degrading transformation of German life.
Shirer 206-207

The Berlin Games served as the model for the Beijing Games set in another totalitarian regime  which had been preceded by Chinese thugs being allowed to attack protesters in the British capital.
With the proper 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". http://imperialflags.blogspot.com
The Brandenburg Regiment, so-named as it had initially been based in the town of Brandenburg an der Havel. The Brandenburgers were members of the Brandenburg German Special forces unit during the Second World War, originally the unit was formed by and operated as an extension of the military's intelligence organ, the Abwehr. Members took part in seizing operationally important targets by way of sabotage and infiltration and, being foreign German nationals who were convinced Nazi volunteers, constituent members, had lived abroad and were proficient in foreign languages as well as being familiar with the way of life in the area of operations where they were deployed.  The Brandenburg Division was generally subordinated to the army groups in individual commands and operated throughout Eastern Europe, in southern Africa, Afghanistan, the Middle East and in the Caucasus. In the later course of the war, parts of the special unit were used in the fight against partisans in Yugoslavia before the Division, in the last months of the war, was reclassified and merged into one of the Panzergrenadier Divisions. They committed various atrocities in the course of their operations.
The  and My 2012 and 2018 Bavarian International School cohorts with the Aufziehen der Wache on the left and Hitlerjugend right.

Hitler's 50th Birthday celebrations

The site after the Third Reich. Field Marshal Sir Bernard Montgomery joining Deputy Supreme Commander in Chief of the Red Army, Marshal Zhukov, the Commander of the 21st Army Group, Marshal Sokolovsky and General 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 two guardhouses flanking the Brandenburg Gate were piles of rubble. Soldiers from the four powers walked around adding a living aspect to the landscape of ruin. Around the Reichstag building a black market had grown up. There were Russian graves on the Ranke Platz and abandoned tanks on the pavements. The latter served as kiosks, announcing dance schools, new theatres and newspapers and toys for urchins reminiscent of the pictures by Heinrich Zille. The Franziskus Hospital was the only undamaged building, and the nuns looked timeless in their habits, as if they had emerged from somewhere on the Castilian Meseta. Near by, the Tiergarten was a blackened shambles, looking more like a battlefield than a landscaped garden. 
MacDonogh (120-121) After the Reich
 
From my 2018 Bavarian International School trip

A T-34- the most-produced tank of the war, as well as the second most produced tank of all time- in front of the Brandenburg Gate after the battle. After 44,900 losses during the war, it is also recognised as having suffered the most tank losses of all time. When first encountered in 1941, German general Paul Ludwig Ewald von Kleist called it "the finest tank in the world" and Heinz Guderian affirmed the T-34's "vast superiority" over existing German armour of the period. Although its armour and armament were surpassed later in the war, it has often been credited as the most effective, efficient and influential tank design of the Second World War.
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. 

Dazed civilians receive care from Red Cross personnel in front of the Brandenburg Gate and my 2016 cohort.
Once it had been decided that all Germans were guilty, the next job was to punish them. Despite the propaganda rations meted out by the Russians in Berlin, the Potsdam Conference decided that the Germans were not to be over-fed. Requests by the Red Cross to bring in provisions were waved aside, and in the winter of 1945 donations were returned with the recommendation that they be used in other war-torn parts of Europe – although the Irish and Swiss contributions had been specifically raised with Germany in mind. The first donations to be permitted reached the American Zone in March 1946, to some degree thanks to the intervention of British intellectuals such as Bertrand Russell and Victor Gollancz.
... Despite the great wrong perpetrated against his people, Gollancz could not sanction another crime: ‘The plain fact is . . . we are starving the Germans. And we are starving them, not deliberately in the sense that we definitely want them to die, but wilfully in the sense that we prefer their death to our own inconvenience.’ Over and over again in his letters to his wife, he is struck by the fact that these suffering infants might have been his own children.
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."
Conservative estimates place the number of Berlin women raped at 20,000. It began in Neukölln at 6 p.m. on 27 April. The worst cases involved very young children or elderly ladies, and the victims were often killed afterwards. It was rumoured that the severity of the rapine was caused by the fact the Russians had sent in units made up of criminals – such as the Nazis had used at the time of the Warsaw Uprising – but this was later revealed to have been untrue. Rapists were threatened with gruesome punishments, but the prospect of satisfying their lust proved stronger than the fear of chastisement. One officer reprimanded a soldier with the words ‘ukas Stalina’ (Stalin’s orders), but the man answered back, saying the Germans had raped his sister. 
A kind of gallows humour grew up that was encapsulated in the expression ‘Besser ein Iwan auf dem Bauch als ein Ami auf dem Kopf!’ (Better a Russki on the belly than a Yank on the head!), meaning that rape was preferable to being blown up by a bomb. In a frightful twist in the gallows humour of the time, Berlin children used to play the ‘Frau komm mit!’ game, with the boys taking the part of the soldiers and the girls their victims.  There was a trade in stars of David, which sold for up to RM500, but in the end the Russians couldn’t care less if the woman was Jewish or the house they plundered had a Jewish owner. They had not gone to war to protect the Jews after all. The rapes continued throughout the time the Russians had Berlin to themselves, but they slackened off markedly after 4 May. Even when Berlin women were not driven so far as to take their own lives, the rapes had inevitable consequences in the form of disease and babies. Some of these unwanted babies were placed in a home in Wilmersdorf. In 1946 it was estimated that one in six of the children born out of wedlock had been fathered by Russians. Coping with syphilis and gonorrhoea without antibiotics was part of a woman’s life at the time. Ten per cent of those raped were infected, and antibiotics cost the equivalent of two pounds of coffee. Most of the unwanted Russian children were aborted, although there was the usual rumour that Stalin had forbidden the women to dispose of their children because he wanted to see an alteration in the racial mix. Abortion was a crude business, normally carried out without anaesthetic and costing about RM1,000. Many women performed the act on themselves, with inevitable consequences. Despite the massive incidence of abortion, it is estimated that between 150,000 and 200,000 ‘Russian babies’ survived to see the light of day. The daily threat of rape petered out only when the Western Allies arrived in July, and when the Soviet authorities realised that it was damaging their chances of political success among the civilian population.
 
The site before and after the fall of the wall from the British zone from my 2018 Bavarian International School trip
GIF: Bavarian International School at the Brandenburg Gate
 Tourists posing in front of the Berlin Wall at the Brandenburg gate in the British sector on June 6, 1989 and my Bavarian International School students in 2013.
 
Soviet IS-2 heavy tanks going past the gate and the site during the Cold War and today, wall gone.
 
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.
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/30/opinion/sunday/germans-loved-obama-now-we-dont-trust-him.html?hp&_r=1&

On the other side of Pariser Platz, the French Embassy has recently been rebuilt on the site of France's prewar embassy.
Standing in front of Berlin's most famous hotel before the war, hosting the likes of Chaplin in his heyday, the Adlon Hotel 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 the war, 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 Stalin portrait beside the Adlon and the view today down Unter den Linden- completely rebuilt.  After Keitel had handed over 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.

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. 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. 
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:

Standing in front of the site of the former Central Office of the Inspector General for Construction in the Reich Capital at Pariser Platz 4. Originally Palais Arnim, from 1907 to 1938 it was the seat of the Prussian Academy of Arts. After the July 1937 campaign against the Degenerate Art had led to the closure of the New Department of the National Gallery, Albert Speer used these premises as a workplace in his capacity as general construction inspector for the imperial capital given him by Hitler on January 30, 1937.  In February 1937, Speer described its use as allowing for "the Führer to come through the ministerial gardens into the rooms of the new office, the only building in the immediate vicinity of the Reich Chancellery, whose corporation no longer fulfils any worthwhile purpose." Speer divided the rooms of the Arnim Palace into offices and studios, taking up quarters in the great hall. In his exhibition building, he had a large model of Berlin set up in the middle hall escape, which only partially retained its skylight. All eight remaining halls were replaced by skylights, rebuilt into studios and workshops, and overbuilt by two storeys with new stairwells. Often Hitler visited the building to visit the models and plans for the planned rebuilding of Berlin and to discuss it with Speer and his coworkers. Speer moved into the building in 1942 after Hitler had appointed him to succeed Fritz Todt in the Office of the Minister of Armaments and Munitions. From 1943 Speer and his staff,  headed by Rudolf Wolters, used the site and working staff for the reconstruction of bombed cities.
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 beside the original model of the proposed Great Hall of the People (Große Halle, Halle des Volkes) designed by Albert Speer, who enjoyed a meteoric rise to power and prominence as Hitler's favourite architect. In 1925, Speer began to study architecture in Berlin. In 1931, after hearing Hitler speak, he joined the Nazi Party. When the Nazis came to power, Speer was given the job of redesigning the ministerial residence of Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's chief of propaganda. The work Speer did on this job brought him to the attention of Hitler, who gave Speer the commission for the new Chancellery building. Together Hitler and Speer then began work on monumental plans to reconstruct Berlin and make it the capital (now to be called Germania) of the new Nazi Empire, with enormous public buildings that would dwarf all existing structures. The Great Hall was intended to be several times the size of St. Peter's Cathedral in Rome, which was then the largest single building in Europe. Speer managed to complete part of his plan before the war. Part of Berlin was torn down and to house Aryan Berliners living in this neighbourhood, Speer forcibly evicted Jews from almost six thousand apartments. As armaments minister during the war, Speer worked slave labourers to death to keep the German war machine going. When Germany was defeated, Speer did not think the victorious Allies would prosecute him for war crimes because he had, after all, been only an architect for Hitler. The Allies disagreed. They put Speer on trial in 1945 and sentenced him to twenty years in prison.
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.
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.
At the rear of the building leading between Pariser Platz and Behrenstraße behind can be found Reinhold Begas's Der Prometheus in Fesseln. This sculpture was walled off  on the west side of the Ihneturm. Speer had acquired the sculpture in 1942 for the Central Office of the Inspector General for Construction in the Reich Capital and two years later walled it off for protection against bombing. It was finally unearthed in 1995 in time for the 300th anniversary of the Academy. However, in trying to chisel it out of its confines its penis was chipped off; it appears to have been restored today. This was only the most egregious indignity it suffered; the Nazis, before imprisoning it, had tried to clean the statue with sulfuric acid- possibly the worst thing one can do to Carrara marble.
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 the Second World War, and the takeover by the East German  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. 

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.
Bavarian International School at 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, 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.
On February 27 1933 the Reichstag was set ablaze whilst Hitler attended a dinner at Goebbels’s residence, from where “an underground passage” connected to the Reichstag was built. Their meal was interrupted by an important telephone call from Dr. Hanfstaengel stating that the Reichstag was on fire. Following this message Hitler and Goebbels immediately made their way to the crime scene, giving 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. President Hindenburg and the vice-chancellor Von Papen also raced to the burning of the Reichstag straight away. The “night watchman Rudolf Scholz had started his customary round of inspection” after the last meeting had taken place in the Reichstag. “At 20:30 he passed the Session Chamber” reassuring himself “that everything was in order”. Additionally the Reichstag Postman, Willi Ott, who was also in the building around that time “had not noticed anything suspicious” either.
He was the last person to leave the Reichstag at about 20:55. Shortly after 21:00, the theology student Hans Flöter passed by the southwestern side of the Reichstag on his way home from the State Library. A sound of breaking glass, which came from the Reichstag building, startled him. He immediately alerted the main staff sergeant Karl Buwert, claiming that he saw a figure holding a burning object. At 21:10 another Student, who also claimed to have seen someone, perhaps even more than one person, notified the Brandenburg Gate Guard Station about the fire. At 21:14 the first fire truck arrived. Right after Lieutenant Lateit peeked into the Chamber of the Reichstag, he was convinced that only one person could not have started so many individual fires. The right-wing political leaders where confident that the arsonist was a Communist. This accusation was confirmed initially when  “the police arrested a young Dutch Communist, van der Lubbe, who was found in the deserted building in circumstances which left little doubt that he was responsible.” It was 21:27. During van der Lubbe’s interrogation, the young man confessed that: “something absolutely had to be done in protest against this system. I considered arson a suitable method.” Although Lubbe was blamed for the arson, some believe the Nazis exploited the fire to their advantage as they introduced an Emergency decree to suspend civil rights. Despite this decree the Nazis failed to get a majority in the March Election. The Enabling act on March 5th in 1933 was introduced, to effectively dissolve the Reichstag and ban all Communist parties.
The burning of the Reichstag led to the so-called Reichstag Fire Decree, the Enabling Act and ultimately Hitler’s rise to power, giving rise to the question of who was responsible for this crime. On March 23, 1933, the German Reichstag passed the Enabling Bill banning 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). There are three main arguments, which are debated until today; these include the involvement of the Nazis, the sole guilt of Marinus van der Lubbe and whether or whether not the crime had been a communist plot.  
Nazi involvement in the Reichstag Fire is supported by the fact that the Nazis built an underground passage to the Reichstag in which storm troopers dispersed “gasoline and self-igniting chemicals” on the night of the arson under the order of the S.A leader Karl Ernst. Even though the locksmith Wingurth declared that the tunnel into the Reichstag had many locked doors, which where found to be closed after the fire, one must know that the Nazis have asked him to advocate their innocence at the Nuremberg Trials. Even the official of the Prussian Ministry testified at the Nuremberg trials that Goebbels had the initial idea of burning down the Reichstag. Additionally General Franz Halder witnessed Goering shouting "The only one who really knows about the Reichstag is I, because I set it on fire!" However Goering denied his participation in the Fire at the Nuremberg Trials. It seems most reasonable blaming the Nazis for the burning of the Reichstag as according to Seftan Delmer “the fire was started by the Nazis, who used the incident as a pretext to outlaw political opposition and impose dictatorship.” 
Standing inside the preserved section of tunnel that connected the Reichstag to Goering's office across the street. 
According to Shirer, who worked as a reporter during the Third Reich in Germany and had access to firsthand information (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.
 (171) Rise And Fall Of The Third Reich
At the trial at Leipzig enough evidence suggested that van der Lubbe “did not possess the means to set so vast a building on fire so quickly.” The testimony of experts at the trial shows that more than one person must have set the fire, as such a widespread fire would have required large quantities of chemicals and gasoline. It was therefore obvious “that one man could not have carried them into the building alone.” However  van der Lubbe, who already had a criminal record, had attempted several times earlier to arson different buildings in order to protest against the German government.  These failures could have encouraged the 24-year old Communist to aim other sites such as in this case the Reichstag. Additionally van der Lubbe was caught with “flammable materials”, “sweating” and “breathing heavily” during his interrogation as if he just came from the crime scene. Lubbe’s behaviour during his interrogation and his items he was carrying with him clearly show that he had to do something with the fire. Why otherwise would he have carried around flammable materials on that particular day? Furthermore Kellerhof supports the theory of van der Lubbe being solely responsible for the fire as an own initiative to protest against the German system. He claims that a few flammable materials would have been enough to conduct the fire in the Reichstag alone, as the breaking of the glass of the dome of the Reichstag encouraged the contact between fire and oxygen, spreading the fire even more. This is also supported by  Dr. Walter Zirpnis claiming at the Nuremberg trials that van der Lubbe acted by himself, even though Ernst Togler, Dimitroff, Popov and Tanev gave themselves up to the police. They only did this as a trigger to the police’s announcement to hang Marinus van der Lubbe. 
Standing within the Reichstag with Göring's former office shown behind across the street; the view would have been blocked by the Berlin wall during the Cold War. In his book published 1963 Tobias described the use of the famous tunnel from this building to the Reichstag was just an “ingenious communist speculation”. However, Tobias has been accused of dismissing “forensic evidence such as the testimony of fire experts who claimed the necessity of multiple arsonists to set the fire” whilst Richard Evans writes how “numerous forgeries and falsifications have been found among the documentary evidence purporting to prove Nazi involvement”. Indeed, Benjamin Carter claims that Tobias was a "senior official of Germany’s domestic intelligence services” who benefited from his personal ties to Gestapo officers. Nevertheless, in the so-called Brown Book published by the Communist activist Willi Münzenberg, there was enough evidence presented arguing that SA officers had accessed the Reichstag via the tunnel connected to Göering’s basement and started the fire. On the night of the fire Göering and Hitler were having dinner together at Göering’s apartment. In his book, Carter states ‘[t]he following day, a new draft now called Decree for the protection of the German people was set. This draft allowed the banning (..) of political meetings and political associations if they posed a threat to public security. But here again, Hitler demonstrated his sense of timing and political calculations”. For Hett, the fire happened so near the federal election that it could not have been just a mere coincidence; it was clearly done by the Nazis, who wanted to benefit politically from the event by pointing their fingers to both the Communists and Social Democrats. “Now the Red pest is being thoroughly rooted out.” (Goebbels) after communists were arrested by the SA. However, as Tobias explains in his book, the Nazis could not have been involved in the fire as by allowing Van der Lubbe to stand trial the Nazis already proved their innocence; if the Dutch communist had been in fact associated with  them, the Nazis would have gotten rid of him before the police could have had the chance to question the suspect. 

Nazis entering the Reichstag and the council chamber on August 30, 1932 and during my 2013 school trip.

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 Nazi regime.
Bavarian International School at the ReichstagBavarian International School at the Reichstag
From our 2011 and 2013 class trips, showing on the right the site on May 15, 1919, amidst a protest against the Versailles treaty.
Bavarian International School at the Reichstag  
Soviet soldier private Mikhail Makarov looks at the destroyed Reichstag and my 2017 cohort. A total of 89 heavy artillery guns and Katyusha rocket launchers were trained on the Reichstag for a thunderous barrage before the infantry stormed it, turning the structure into a ruin. I'm sitting on the steps on the right, providing a comparison to its ruined state immediately after the war.
Bavarian International School at the Reichstag
The day after the breaching of the wall and today

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:

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 April 30 there had been tremendous pressure from Stalin to take the building in time for the International Workers' Day, May 1.
 At 1300 hours, a thundering barrage from 152mm and 203mm howitzers, tank guns, SPGs, and Katyusha rocket launchers - in all, 89 guns - was loosed against the Reichstag. A number of infantrymen joined in with captured Panzerfausts. Smoke and debris almost completely obscured the bright, sunny day. Captain Neustroyev's battalion was the first to move. Crouching next to the captain, Sergeant Ishchanov requested and was granted permission to be the first to break into the building with his section. Slipping out of a window on the first floor of the Interior Ministry building, Ishchanov's men began crawling across the open, broken ground towards the Reichstag, and rapidly secured entrances at several doorways and holes in the outer wall. Captain Neustroyev took the rest of the forward company, with their Red Banner, and raced across the space, bounding up the central staircase and through the doors and breaches in the wall. The company cleared the first floor easily, but quickly discovered that the massive building's upper floors and extensive underground labyrinth were occupied by a substantial garrison of German soldiers. One floor at a time, they began attempting to reduce the German force. The task uppermost in everyone's mind was to make their way to the top and raise the banner; the soldiers who succeeded in this symbolic act, it had been promised, would be made Heroes of the Soviet Union. Fighting their way up the staircase to the second floor with grenades, Sergeants Yegorov and Kantariya managed to hang their battalion's banner from a second-floor window, but their efforts to take the third floor were repeatedly thrown back. It was 1425 hours. 
Bahm (155-156) Berlin 1945: The Final Reckoning

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 April 30. 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
Bavarian International School on the Reichstag roof
My 2017 cohort surreptitiously holding the Bavarian International School banner above the Reichstag. When the fighting was over, Marshal Zhukov found over 20 reports and recommendations for the title of Hero of the Soviet Union on his desk. The documents showed different and contradictory accounts of the time and location of hoisting the Banner of Victor)'. Zhukov announced that no one was to receive the HSU title until the confusion was sorted out. For the time being, the men would receive the lesser award of the Order of the Red Banner. Col. Fyodor Zinchenko, commander of the 756th Rifle Regiment, which stormed the Reichstag, was awarded the title of HSU on May 31, 1945, as was Lt. Col. Naum Peysakhovski of the 164th. However, the other men connected with the banner raising did not receive the HSU title until a year later, on the first anniversary of the end of the Great Patriotic War. On May 8, 1946, Capt. Stepan Neustroyev, Sgt. Mikhail Yegorov, and Jr. Sgt. Meliton Kantaria became Heroes of the Soviet Union, followed by Sgt. Maj. Ilya Syanov a week later. Lt. Alexei Berest, who surely deserved the award, was ignored. In 2002, veterans of Rostov sent a petition to President Putin to recognise Berest with the title of Hero of Russia. Berest had died long before, killed in 1970 whilst saving a girl from under the wheels of a train.
Zhukov, Marshal of the Soviet Union and commander of the 1st Belorussian Front during the Battle of Berlin, visiting the Reichstag the day after it fell on May 3, 1945 with Red Army General Nikolai Berzarin. Tsarist military tradition awarding command of a successfully besieged city to the first general to enter it decreed that the latter, as commander of the 5th Shock Army which was the first unit to enter Berlin, was made commander of the Berlin Occupation Forces. Berzarin would die in a mysterious truck accident a few weeks later which bore all the hallmarks of the NKVD. Acting as their guide on the left with a sling holster is Arthur Pieck, son of Wilhelm Pieck who would later serve as the first President of East Germany. During this visit Zhukov added his name to the graffiti before touring the ruins of the Reichskanzlei.
 
Standing in one of the rooms that keeps the preserved graffiti displayed. 
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.When last at the Reichstag a student alerted me to these ϟϟ runes scrawled onto the wall. They're of a different colour and, given they are an illegal symbol and other graffito had been removed by the authorities, I'm assuming they are a recent addition. In his preface to Berlin, Beevor wrote 
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.
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 http://sergey-larenkov.livejournal.com/
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 headquarters during the battle for Berlin. This building is in fact the only one to emerge intact after the war. It was completed by the architect Friedrich Hitzig in 1871 as a private city palace. The Swiss Confederation acquired the building in 1919 when, after renovations, it served as the chancellery of the Swiss legation from 1920.  It survived both Hitler's demolition work for his "world capital Germania" and the Second World War to end up as the only building in the Spreebogen without serious damage. In the final phase of the struggle for Berlin in late April 1945, the embassy was temporarily occupied by Soviet troops and served as a base for the conquest of the Reichstag. During the bombing raids, the embassy was housed in Rauschendorf Castle near Sonnenberg.When in October 1992 after the final decision had been made in favour of Berlin as the federal capital, the building became the seat of a branch office of the Swiss Embassy in Bonn.  The embassy building was renovated and received a controversial extension on the east side by the architects Diener & Diener as shown in the then-and-now GIF above.
Past the embassy towards the central railway station across the rover is the Moltke bridge which saw heavy fighting during the Battle of Berlin in April 1945 at the end of the Second World War. German defenders, about 5000 members of the ϟϟ and Volksturm, barricaded the bridge at both ends and wired it for demolition. On April 28, units of the Soviet 3rd Shock Army, commanded by Major-General S.N. Perevertkin, fought their way down Alt-Moabit towards the bridge. Their goal was the capture of the German Reichstag, only about 660 yards from the bridge. At dusk, the Soviets assaulted the bridge. The detonation charges damaged the bridge, with a section falling into the Spree, but enough stood for men and vehicles to cross. By midnight, the Soviet 150th and 171st rifle divisions had secured the bridgehead against any counterattack the Germans could muster. From here they moved on the Reichstag, which they captured on May Day.  Though damaged, the bridge was one of the few to survive the war and looks similar to the original construction, though it was repaired and strengthened to take the weight of modern traffic. A damaged griffin is left on the bank beside the bridge as a reminder.