Showing posts with label Cecilienhof. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cecilienhof. Show all posts

Potsdam and Brandenburg

Potsdam then and now

The Gau Mark Brandenburg was formed in 1933 initially under the name Gau Kurmark in Nazi Germany as a district within the Free State of Prussia. In 1935, Germany's constituent states were dissolved and the Gaus replaced the states and their responsibilities. In 1940, Kurmark was renamed Mark Brandenburg. The Gau was 38, 278 km² in area and with over 3 million inhabitants the largest in Nazi Germany. The seat of the Gauleitung was in Berlin on Kurmärkische Straße. The Ravensbrück and Sachsenhausen concentration camps were located in the Gau March of Brandenburg. Ravensbrück was a women's camp and of the 132,000 prisoners that were sent to the camp, 92,000 perished whilst of the estimated 200,000 prisoners at Sachsenhausen 30,000 perished. However this figure does not include prisoners that died on the way to the camp or were never registered and killed on arrival, the latter mostly Soviet prisoners of war. The Gau was dissolved in 1945, following Allied Soviet occupation of the area and Germany's formal surrender in 1945. After the war, the territory of the former Gau became part of the state of Brandenburg in East Germany except one of beyond Oder-Neisse line, which was given to Poland. Most territories of it are divided between Germany's State of Brandenburg and Poland's Lubusz Voivodeship now.

On March 21 1933, the first day of spring, the new Hitler government staged an elaborate ceremony in Potsdam, the traditional residence of the Prussian kings. The ceremony was intended to symbolise the continuity between Prusso-German monarchism and the new Nazi-led regime. In the venerable Garrison Church, in front of the vault of Frederick the Great and the throne traditionally occupied by the kaiser, President Hindenburg called on the new government to overcome the selfishness and partisan divisions of the Weimar era and to lead the national renewal for a unified, free, and proud Germany. Hitler, in turn, extolled Hindenburg as the patron of the German “awakening” and as the symbol of the indestructible vitality of the German nation.
Reich Chancellor Hitler and Vice-Chancellor Franz von Papen on their way to the garrison church on the 'Day of Potsdam,' left.
Significantly, one of Goebbels’ first staged events as Propaganda Minister was the opening of the new Reichstag with an elaborate ceremony known as the ‘Day of Potsdam’ on 21 March 1933. The ceremony was held in the Garrison Church at Potsdam, the shrine of the old Prussian monarchy. President Hindenburg resplendent in the full military regalia of Prussian field-marshal raised his baton to the empty throne of the exiled Kaiser. Hitler, in top hat and morning coat, bowed deferentially before him. The propaganda message was clear. The Nazis were restoring the old imperial glories lost in 1918 by forging a link between the past and the present – between the conservatism of the Prussian tradition and the razzmatazz of National Socialist ritual propaganda. In a symbolic piece of theatrical staging, Hindenburg took the salute for the final parade (which lasted for several hours) while Hitler stood modestly with his ministers some rows behind the old man 
Welch (21) The Third Reich: Politics and Propaganda
During the anniversary celebrations of the Revolution of 1848 on March 21, 1933 which provided the occasion for the ceremonial handshake between President Paul von Hindenburg and the new Chancellor Adolf Hitler in Potsdam's Garrison Church in what became known as the "Day of Potsdam". The ceremony was intended to symbolise the continuity between Prusso-German monarchism and the new Nazi-led regime. In the venerable Garrison Church, in front of the vault of Frederick the Great and the throne traditionally occupied by the kaiser, President Hindenburg called on the new government to overcome the selfishness and partisan divisions of the Weimar era and to lead the national renewal for a unified, free, and proud Germany. Hitler, in turn, extolled Hindenburg as the patron of the German “awakening” and as the symbol of the indestructible vitality of the German nation.
The Nikolaikirche before and after the war and with students from my 2017 Bavarian International School trip.
Standing in front and as it appeared after the war on the right. During the air raid on Potsdam, British aircraft dropped explosive and incendiary bombs over Potsdam's city centre on the evening of April 14, 1945. Although a large part of the old town was in ruins, the church remained unscathed beyond some slight damage. Only in the last days of fighting for Potsdam was it ruined by Soviet artillery bombardment. The dome collapsed and the entrance portico on the Alter Markt collapsed. Inside, the organ loft collapsed with the Sauer organ, the apse was severely torn, parts of the equipment were burned and the largest bell was destroyed. Only the altar and pulpit remained undamaged. On April 30, 1945 the Red Army occupied Potsdam.
Built under the reign of Friedrich Wilhelm I between 1730 and 1735, the Garrison Church burned down on April 14 1945 and its ruins finally demolished on June 23 1968 under Walter Ulbricht. A reconstruction society aims to rebuild the Garrison Church by 2017, financed with donations.
 Postcard commemorating the event with President Paul von Hindenburg being seen by many as a substitute for the Kaiser, allowing Hitler’s “Machtergreifung” to become a symbol of a Prussian conservative rebirth of the nation (“Wiedergeburt der Nation). The deal was sealed by a handshake between the Chancellor, Hitler, and the President, von Hindenburg Paul von Hindenburg. A famous photograph of it by a photographer for the New York Times, Theo Eisenhard, became the media icon of the day although the handshake was later claimed to represent little more than Hitler’s dismissal of Hindenburg.
During the war given the fear of bombing the coffins of Friedrich II and his father, Friedrich Wilhelm I were removed from the Garrison Church in 1943 and placed in a bunker in today’s German Army Command Centre in Potsdam. After the British bombings on April 14 and 15, 1945 it looked as though the church had remained unscathed, but on the 15th the “Lange Stall next door took a direct hit, and the ensuing fire storm entered the church through windows broken by the bombing the night before. The fire destroyed the wooden galleries and the roof before it entered the tower, where wooden ventilation shutters needed for the carillon mechanic allowed the fire to spread quickly. Damage to water pipes and low water pressure resulting from the bombings made it impossible for fire hoses to reach the source of the blaze. Firemen could only watch helplessly as first the tower burned from top to bottom followed by the wooden beams in the church nave. Only the crucifix, chandeliers and the altar table could be saved before the enormous heat caused an unexploded ordnance to detonate. One by one the carillon bells loosened and fell nearly 80 metres to the ground until finally the oaken roof of the tower also collapsed ending the long existence of Potsdam’s most famous musical instrument. Only the ruined outside walls of the church and a stump of its tower remained.
The wartime conferences had calmly discussed the Germans’ fate, but at the Potsdam Conference the Allies finally realised that ‘Uncle Joe’ had stolen a march on them. He would call the shots. The Allies met from 17 July to 2 August 1945 at the palace of Crown Prince ‘Little Willi’, the Cecilienhof in Potsdam. The Western Allies were able to see their handiwork for the first time. In a fifteen-minute raid on 14 April they had flattened the centre of Frederick the Great’s Residenz. The town centre had lost ‘everything that was historic, a memorial or artistically important’, according to Hanna Grisebach. There were consolations: ‘The voices that we have had to listen to for over twelve years have been silenced.’
Giles MacDonogh (471) After the Reich
 Potsdam had not been spared in the bombing.
In a massive air raid that night, Allied bombers attacked Potsdam. A Hitler Youth sheltering in a basement that night found the walls around him `rocking like a ship'. The bombs destroyed much of the old town, including the Garnisonkirche, the spiritual home of the Prussian military caste and aristocracy. Ursula von Kardorff burst into tears in the street after hearing the news. `A whole world was destroyed with it,' she wrote in her diary.
Beevor (204-5) Berlin 1945
 The Nauener Tor and Brandenburger Tor on Luisenplatz, shown during the Nazi era and today, are two of Potsdam's three preserved city gates. The first is regarded as the first structure of neo-Gothic style on the European continent whilst the latter, not to be confused with the gate of the same name on Berlin's Pariser Platz, was built in 1770-71 by Carl von Gontard and Georg Christian Unger by order of Frederick II and runs in a straight line up to the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul.
Brandenburger Straße Potsdam
 Brandenburger Straße in 1934 in a watercolor by Otto Heinrich. Heinrich was dubbed Kanalotto, based on the Italian Canaletto, because of his artistic passion for the Potsdam city canal. Flagged with swastika and black-white-red imperial flags, it probably records an official occasion, most likely the death of Reich President Hindenburg on August 2, 1934. In all likelihood Heinrich probably intended to destroy her it after the war, but a friend smuggled it out to West Berlin. In the painting the swastikas were incompletely scraped off, suggests that it was already visible for a while after the war.
The city centre of Potsdam was badly damaged by an Allied bombing raid on April 14, 1945 in the last phase of the war. The area between the Havel, the Alter Markt and the Bassinplatz was particularly affected. The main station, city ​​palace, long stable and garrison church burned out completely. Large parts of the northeastern suburb near the Glienicke Bridge were also damaged in a similar manner. However, the area around the New Market , the Dutch Quarter, has largely been preservedand the northern parts of the old town. In the battles of the last days of the war, other buildings were damaged, such as the Holy Spirit Church and the Old Town Hall. On April 27, 1945, Potsdam was taken by the Red Army. Potsdam was the target of a particularly large number of bombs in Germany. Up to the present day, newly discovered duds are defused and the people living in the area are evacuated on such occasions.
Potsdam Lustgarten then and now
The Lustgarten then and now, showing the Marstall, St. Nicholas Church and Stadtschloss
The Altes Rathaus and looking towards the Alten Markt from Schlossstraße
The Stadtschloss is being reconstructed with as much of the original material as possible. When completed, it is intended to become the Parliament House for the Federal State of Brandenburg.
One part of the schloss currently under reconstruction is the fountain "The Triumph of Neptune and Amphitrite Stilling the Waves", shown here in the 1930s and today.
The unveiling in October 1929 of the memorial for the 15,000 paramedics killed in the Great War with the honorary company of the Reichswehr in the foreground.
Military Town No. 7 KGB NKVD Potsdam
 After the Second World War
when the Red Army entered the area in April 1945, a secret service town with more than 100 buildings was built by the Soviets on an area of ​​16 hectares in the Nauen suburb of Potsdam. In the core area there was a high-security zone with headquarters and a detention center. From 1954, military counterintelligence came under the control of the Soviet secret service, the KGB. It was intended to secure the occupation regime and ward off espionage by western secret services against the Soviet troops stationed in the DDR. Investigating officers held suspects in prison, among them numerous Germans until 1955, interrogated them and forced them to confess.
Apart from the headquarters of the (KGB) in Berlin's Karlshorst district, the German headquarters of Soviet military counterintelligence- the secret service base known as  "Military Town No. 7"- was the Soviets' most important intelligence outpost with Western Europe. After the Potsdam Conference the base was expanded to cover sixteen hectares, including a hundred or so buildings used to accommodate all of the departments and service facilities as well as the staff and their families.
Outside the former residence of the heads of Soviet military counterintelligence.
At the main entrance of Schloss Cecilienhof , where the Potsdam "Big Three" meetings were held. It was built from 1914 to 1917 in the layout of an English Tudor manor house inspired by Bidston Court in Birkenhead. Cecilienhof was the last palace built by the House of Hohenzollern that ruled the Kingdom of Prussia and the German Empire until the end of the Great War. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1990, it is of course famous for having been the location of the Potsdam Conference in 1945 when the most influential leaders in the world gathered in the conference hall, the former residence of the crown prince. Together with their foreign ministers- future Prime Minister Anthony Eden (Britain), Vyacheslav Molotov (USSR) and James F. Byrnes (USA), their respective ambassadors and a political and military advisory board, Truman, Churchill and Stalin tried to solve the most pressing issues. The war against Japan continued and the Soviets were already moving troops from Europe to Asia to join the alliance against the Japanese Empire. The Allies had to define a common occupation policy for the defeated and occupied Germany, but territorial issues were also on the agenda after the Soviets annexed large areas in eastern Poland. In addition, a decision had to be made on the extent to which Germany, suffering the war, had to pay economic and financial compensation to the Allies. Conflicts could also be expected from the changed geopolitical situation in Eastern Europe. Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, the Baltic states and almost the entire Balkans now belonged to Moscow's sphere of influence. At the negotiating table, Churchill and Truman had to try to find out to what extent independent politics and democratic development would even be possible in these countries. As Churchill would presciently tell the American special envoy Joseph E. Davies during his mission to London in the course of preparations for the Potsdam Conference, "[p]erhaps it would fall to a very few men to decide in the next few weeks the kind of life that would confront several generations to come."
 The Potsdam Conference took place from July 17 to August 2, 1945 and was the third and longest summit between the heads of government of the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, and the United States, the three victors in the anti-Hitler-coalition that had just won the war after VE day, May 8 1945. The conference was mainly organised by the Soviets as seen in the red star floral arrangement still to be seen in the photos I took for this page. Although Churchill had refused to hold a summit "anywhere within the current Soviet military zone", Truman and Stalin had agreed in late May 1945 to meet "near Berlin". As Berlin itself had been too heavily damaged by Allied bombing and street-to-street fighting, Cecilienhof in Potsdam was selected as the location for the conference. The delegations were to be housed in the leafy suburb of Potsdam-Babelsberg, which had suffered only slight damage in the bombing raids and also offered the advantage that the streets to the conference venue were easy to guard. To that end Soviet soldiers repaired the streets connecting Babelsberg to Cecilienhof, built a pontoon bridge to replace the Glienicker Brücke, which had been destroyed during the last days of the war, planted trees, bushes and flower beds—including the aforementioned Soviet red star in the Ehrenhof of the palace. 
At Cecilienhof, 36 rooms and the great hall were renovated and furnished with furniture from other Potsdam palaces. The furniture of Wilhelm and Cecilie had been removed by the Soviets and stored at the Dairy. 
The main rooms used for the conference were as follows: Cecilie's music salon, the White Salon, used by the Soviet delegation as a reception room. On the first day of the conference, this was also the site of a buffet Stalin provided to the other delegations; Cecilie's writing room—the Red Salon, used by the Soviet delegation as a study; the Great hall—this was the conference hall, fitted by the Soviets with a round table ten feet in diametre (probably custom-made by a Moscow-based furniture company); Wilhelm's smoking room was used as study of the American delegation; Wilhelm's library served as the study of the British delegation; Wilhelm's breakfast room was possibly used as a secretary's office. However, according to the official guide to the palace, evidence has recently emerged that indicates that the current designation of the British and American studies may have been switched by the Soviets after the conference.
After the conference ended, Soviet troops used the palace as a clubhouse. It was handed over to the state of Brandenburg and in 1952 a memorial for the Conference was set up in the former private chambers of Wilhelm and Cecilie. The East German government also used the palace as a reception venue for state visits whilst the rest of the complex became a hotel in 1960, a function that remains today. Some of the rooms were used by the ruling party (SED) for meetings. After 1961 a part of the Neuer Garten was destroyed to build the southwest section of the Berlin Wall (as part of the Grenzsicherungsanlagen) which ran along the shore of Jungfernsee.
Bavarian International School class trip at entrance to Cecilienhof
On the left, the flags of the USSR, United States and the United Kingdom are flying over the main entranceway as Soviet officers serve as guards and as it appeared during my 2020 Bavarian International School trip; I was personally impressed they didn't just use a regular American flag but chose one that had the original 48 stars. This main portal of Cecilienhof Palace was the one the British delegation used to get into the conference hall. Photographed during the conference, the last of the major Allied conferences of the Second World War showing the great red star of geraniums, pink roses and hortensias in the flower bed at the entrance the Soviets had planted. Held from July 17 to August 2, 1945, in the Berlin suburb of Potsdam Truman, Stalin, and (at the beginning of the conference) Churchill, whose place was later taken by Clement Attlee, when he replaced Churchill as prime minister. Beginning with the Tehran Conference in 1943, the main allies of the anti-Hitler coalition of the Second World War had already met several times at various levels in order to reach an agreement on the course for the time after the victory over Germany. Previously, in the 1943 Conference of Casablanca the demand for an unconditional surrender was raised. At the Yalta conference in February 1945, a division into occupation zones as well as a coordinated administration and control by a Central Control Commission was adopted.  
After the military collapse of the Germany on the occasion of the entry into force of the unconditional surrender of the German forces on May 8, 1945 and the arrest of the managing Reichsregierung under Karl Doenitz and Lutz von Krosigk on May 23, Berlin Declaration and the establishment of the occupation zones as well as the establishment of an Allied Control Council officially assumed the power of government in Germany. A conference in June, proposed by Churchill was delayed by Stalin. This was done within the framework of Soviet endeavours to make the West Powers complete fait accompli with regard to the German eastern frontier. Original plans had foreseen Berlin as a meeting place, but because of the serious war damage, the meetings were transferred to the intact Potsdam palace Cecilienhof.
The centrally located city palace was severely damaged by the heavy British air raid on April 14, 1945 and was therefore not a suitable conference venue. Of course, certain minimum requirements were also made of a conference venue: existing infrastructure, accessibility, reachability and, above all, security for the delegations. Bavarian International School class trip to the site of Big ThreeAll this required a certain building size, so that the smaller Hohenzollern palaces such as Charlottenhof, the New Chambers and even the world-famous Sanssouci Palace were out of the question. Since the delegations were not supposed to live in the building, but their security had to be guaranteed, the palace was not allowed to have the confusing size of the New Palace. Basically, from a purely functional point of view, all that was required a conference room large enough to accommodate all the negotiators and their entourage, plus a couple of adjoining offices at the rear of the building. Cecilienhof Palace offered all of this although symbolically it stood far less for "Prussian militarism" than other Hohenzollern palaces. Nevertheless, it didn't stop Joan Bright Astley, the woman who organised the Special Information Centre (SIC) for Churchill during the war and who, as a young woman, dated Ian Fleming and is believed to be one of the three or four women whose attributes were used by him for the character of Miss Moneypenny, from writing in The Inner Circle: A View Of War At The Top how "[t]he Big Three would meet at Potsdam - cradle of German militarism and suburb of the Berlin graveyard - on 15 July." Potsdam thus was not seen as a random location near Berlin; its importance as a garrison location and residence of the Prussian kings and German emperors was understood as the cradle of German militarism and deliberately chosen by the delegation members.
Bavarian International School class trip to the site of Potsdam conference
 During my 2022 Bavarian International School class trip to the site of the conference and as it appeared when Truman left.
On July 17, 1945, the first of thirteen sessions took place at Cecilienhof Palace. Internally, the Potsdam Conference was always codenamed TERMINAL, the Allies seeing this as the end of a long war against Germany. The site would produce three locations loaded with iconic symbolism: the courtyard with the Soviet star, the conference hall with its round table and the palace terrace with three wicker chairs for press photos. The major subjects of the conference were the European peace settlements; the urgently pressing issue of administering a defeated and substantially destroyed Germany; the determination of Polish boundaries; the terms of the occupation of Austria; the Soviet role in Eastern Europe; reparations; and, not least, the continued prosecution of the war against Japan. The conference would eventually produce the Potsdam Declaration calling for unconditional surrender, or else Japan's “prompt and utter destruction.” With regard to Germany, the declaration asserted the Allies’ intention to give the “German people . . . the opportunity to prepare for the eventual reconstruction of their life on a democratic and peaceful basis.” Four zones of occupation were demarcated in Germany, each to be administered by military governments under the commanders in chief of the British, American, Soviet, and French armies of occupation. Austria was also divided into four zones of occupation, as were the capital cities of Berlin and Vienna. Coordination amongst the occupation zones was to be handled by an Allied Control Council. The conference agreed that occupation policy would embody the principles stated in the Yalta Agreement, including demilitarisation, denazification, democratisation, decentralisation, and deindustrialisation. 
Regarding the issue of reparations, each Allied power was to recover reparations from its own zone of occupation, with the proviso that the Soviet Union was entitled to recover ten to fifteen percent of the industrial equipment in the western zones of Germany in exchange for agricultural produce and other natural products from its zone.
With regard to the settlement of the Polish border, this was fixed at the Oder and Neisse Rivers in the west, and the country absorbed a portion of what had been East Prussia. This settlement required relocating millions of Germans from these areas.
The settlement of the Soviet role in Eastern Europe was highly contentious, as Stalin refused to permit Western intervention in those Eastern governments already controlled by communists.
  Here Truman revealed to Stalin the existence of the atomic bomb and that he intended to use it against Japan. Stalin hardly reacted to this revelation because- as it turned out- his espionage network had already informed him of the existence of the bomb. Stalin knew already what the Americans had achieved; knew, too, that it was an achievement that the Soviet Union must match. Stalin disingenuously told the American ambassador in Moscow that the Bomb "would mean the end of war and aggressors". Harriman concurred that "it could have great importance for peaceful purposes"; to which, with a stony face, Stalin replied: "Unquestionably." However, because of the weapon, the conferees were emboldened to issue an ultimatum to Japan on July 26 demanding unconditional surrender. The Japanese government, hopelessly deadlocked in political arguing, made it clear they would ignore the message. After Japan rejected the ultimatum the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This has led to the myth of how an ill-chosen translation of the Japanese word mokusatsu led to the United States decision to drop the world's first atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

Potsdam conference room then and now 
The conference room then and now. It was around this table that the Anglo-Americans informed Stalin of the existence of the atomic bomb. On July 17, the American Secretary of War Stimson visited Churchill in his villa in Babelsberg and put a note on the table with the words "Babies satisfactorily born". "The big experiment in the desert was successful, the atomic bomb is here," he announced euphorically according to Churchill's memoirs. Churchill's response:  "What was gunpowder? Trivial. What was electricity? Meaningless. The atomic bomb is the Second Coming in Wrath." Indeed, a detailed report, in which the tremendous, unprecedented destructive power was described, followed shortly afterwards. The light and thunder of the explosion could be heard more than 300 kilometres away. As a veteran realpolitiker and former military officer, Churchill immediately grasped the opportunity this news might offer during the negotiations, and wondered if it would now be possible to stop Stalin's demands. However, this could only succeed if the Americans and the British officially informed the Soviets about the atomic bomb. The allies had already argued about the question of a possible publication in 1944. The dispute finally culminated on September 19, 1944 in an Anglo-American commitment to the "extreme secrecy" of nuclear research. Up until the Potsdam Conference, everyone had kept to this agreement, but now, after the successful atomic bomb test, Stalin was to be informed. But as Churchill pondered, "How should this news be imparted to him? Should it be in writing or by word of mouth? Should it be at a formal and special meeting, or in the course of our daily conferences, or after one of them?” In the end, it was agreed that Stalin would be informed casually about the bomb. On July 24, 1945 at around 19.30, the time had finally come. After the deliberations in the conference hall of Cecilienhof Palace, Truman went alone to Stalin: “I casually mentioned to Stalin that we had a new weapon of unusual destructive force. The Russian Premier showed no special interest. All he said was he was glad to hear it and hoped we would make 'good use of it against the Japanese.'" he recollected in his memoirs. "The Russian Premier showed no special interest. All he said was that he was glad to hear it and hoped we would make good use of it against the Japanese.” The Soviet dictator's reaction came as a surprise to all those present who were privy to the incident. Churchill observed the scene from just fifteen feet away and was convinced that Stalin had no idea what Truman was talking about, for his "features remained serene and light-hearted." The American interpreter Bohlen also followed everything closely: "Across the room, I watched Stalin's face carefully as the President broke the news. So offhand was Stalinʼs response that there was some question in my mind whether the Presidentʼs message had got through.” But everyone in the end was mistaken. Stalin was well informed and prepared by his intelligence chief, Beria. It was agreed that he should play ignorant, and he was an excellent actor. On his return to his villa in Babelsberg, however, he showed how much effort it had cost him. He called his followers together and complained clearly about the Americans. Like Churchill, he recognised the value of the bomb on the diplomatic stage: “There is no doubt that Washington and London hope that it will take us some time to develop the atomic bomb. Meanwhile they want to use the American - more precisely the American-British - monopoly to force us to accept their plans for Europe and the world. But they will not succeed!” 
 Table Potsdam then now
 Inside the famous garden terrace where press photos were taken of the “Big Three” sitting in wicker chairsInside the famous garden terrace where press photos were taken of the “Big Three” sitting in wicker chairs which were added as part of the special exhibition Potsdam Conference 1945 – Shaping the World, commemorating the 75th Anniversary of the Potsdam Conference. The exhibition ran from June 23 to December 31, 2020, and presented historical documents, films, photographs and mementos of the era to bring the event to life and to examine how it sculpted world history. The conference’s official conclusions, set out in the Potsdam Agreement, had immediate repercussions for Germany and for the rest of Europe, but the exhibition also shows how the behind-the-scenes discussions had far-reaching implications for Asia and the Middle East. Unfortunately when I arrived for it neither Churchill’s walking cane, Panama hat nor cigar tube had arrived in time from the wartime prime minister’s former home given the coronavirus lockdown back in Britain which led to an export license for the items taking longer than expected to procure. What it did have on display for the first time was the diary of Joy Milward, then a 19-year-old secretary with the British delegation, recording her impressions of the conference and the wreckage of Germany, describing the journey from the airport to Potsdam as having been “lined with old men and women, children and young women all carrying packs on their back or pushing carts loaded with family belongings.”
Four days after the conference ended, the Americans dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, killing tens of thousands of people followed three days later with Nagasaki. One particularly moving exhibit that was on loan from the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum was the blackened metal lunchbox of a twelve-year-old schoolboy, Koji Kano, whose body was never found.
The last section of the exhibition dealt with the Soviet invasion of Japanese-occupied Manchuria that occurred a week after the meeting ended, and how the ultimatum to Japan eventually led to independence for Korea. Also touched on were issues such as the withdrawal of British and Soviet troops from Iran, the failure of the three powers to settle compensation for Holocaust survivors or to decide what should happen next in Palestine.
Big Three, PotsdamStalin, ever more sartorially aware, changed into his white, gilded Generalissimo’s magnificence with the single Hero of the Soviet Union gold star, and arrived last for the first session at the Cecilienhof Palace, built in 1917 for the last Crown Prince, mocking its Kaiserine grandeur: “Hmm. Nothing much,” he told Gromyko. “Modest. The Russian Tsars built themselves something much more solid.” At the conference, Stalin sat between Molotov and his interpreter Pavlov, flanked by Vyshinsky and Gromyko. Champagne glasses were brought to toast the conference. Churchill, puffing at a cigar, approached Stalin who was himself smoking a Churchillian cigar. If anyone were to photograph the Generalissimo with a cigar, it would “create an immense sensation,” Churchill beamed, “everyone will say it is my influence.” Actually British influence was greatly diminished in the new world order of the superpowers in which they could agree on the de‑Nazification of Germany but not on reparations or Poland. Now Hitler was gone, the differences were mountainous.
Montefiore, Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar
Chairs of Big Three at Potsdam

Inside the White Salon, Cecilienhof Potsdam
Inside the White Salon during my 2022 class trip and as it appeared in 1945 during the conference when it served as the reception room of the Soviet delegation. Much of what follows concerning the history of the decor of the various rooms used during the conference comes from Jessica Korschanowski: Rot dominiert – Funktion und Ausstattung des Weißen Salons im Schloss Cecilienhof während der Potsdamer Konferenz 1945. Betrachtungen anlässlich der Sonderausstellung 2020, 28/04/2020, URL: As can be seen in the GIFs, the room differs in essential points from the way it appeared at the time of the Potsdam Conference for a number of reasons. One was to prevent accidents by rearranging the chairs within the movement areas intended for the public along the window front. With regard to possibly reconstructing the original upholstery fabrics of the furniture, one plan is to use the red silk upholstery of the chairs now on permanent display in the Marble Palace. This would however require the chairs to be removed from their current, stylistically coherent surroundings, for which they were only recently specially adapted at the expense of public funds. 
The paintings however appear to have remained with the watercolour hanging on the east wall by an unknown artist depicting a “park landscape” visible at the back left of the images as well as the two pictures on the south wall above the fireplace and to the left of it. The latter is a view of a "southern landscape" that shows a steep rocky peak at the edge of a wide bay, and a view of the Acropolis. Two of the three watercolours are by Angelos Gialliná, an artist based on Corfu, which originally belonged to the crown prince. It is possible that the depictions were a gift from Kaiser Wilhelm II who used to stay in Corfu after having bought the Achilleion in 1907 and had it rebuilt according to his ideas.
There remained a great deal of unfinished business. The future of Germany, discussed at Yalta, was not decided by the documents of surrender. The settlement in Eastern Europe was not resolved. The war with Japan was not yet over. The three wartime allies agreed to meet for a conference in which they could explore the many political issues left over from the defeat of the Axis powers. The date agreed upon was July 15. Stalin persuaded his allies to add to the symbolism of surrender by meeting in Berlin. The site chosen was Potsdam, home of Prussian militarism. Zhukov was once again asked to find a suitable venue. He chose the Cecilienhof, a former palace of the Prussian royal family. Other villas were requisitioned for the thousands of officials who followed in train behind their heads of state. Zhukov organized the refurbishment of thirty‐six rooms and an assembly hall in the palace. By request Truman’s headquarters were painted blue; Churchill asked for pink; the Soviet delegation chose a stark white. No circular conference table large enough and in one piece could be found in Berlin, so the Lux furniture factory in Moscow was asked to build one in time for the conference.
Overy, Russia's War
Inside Stalin's study and as it appeared in 1945. The decor of such rooms assigned to the Soviets were guided by pragmatism and demonstrative renunciation. Accordingly, Zhukov would later recall that when Stalin was preparing the Soviet rooms in Cecilienhof Palace and his residence in Babelsberg, it was particularly important to eliminate all appearances of luxury, noting in Stalin's study, cecilienhof Potsdamhis Reminiscences and Reflections how “Stalin had never liked luxury, so after a walk through the rooms he had superfluous furniture removed." At the same time, the space had to radiate power, which Antipenko in particular obviously initially viewed as a challenge. At least it was important to him to report later – quite agitatedly – ​​that the representatives of the USA and Great Britain had explicitly valued the luxurious furnishings of their rooms in Cecilienhof, writing how “[i]t seemed to me that Stalin's rooms should not be made less luxurious. Some things had already been done. But the representative of Moscow, General Vlasik, said that the more modest the equipment, the better. In place of the costly furniture brought from other castles, simple furniture has come.” This principle seems to have been implemented most consistently in Stalin's study, since two sets of seating furniture were placed there for the conference, which cannot subsequently be assigned to any inventory of the surrounding castles and which, judging by their style, seem to have been brought from bourgeois households. The painting of Villa Falconieri by Albert Hertel remains the same, albeit in a different frame. The painting originally hung in the Dutch Palace in Berlin which was largely destroyed in November 1943. The painting itself however was saved and stored in the former Imperial Riding Hall in the New Garden. In January 1962, the administration of the State Palaces and Gardens in Potsdam-Sanssouci gave the picture to the memorial as a "permanent loan". In the 1950s after his death the painting was replaced with the photo of Stalin sitting outside on the terrace during the conference in his white uniform. The club chairs are upholstered in dark leather, which in combination with the dark wood of the desk and the waist-high wall paneling created a very 'masculine' impression of the room. Also included is a leather couch, which - behind the photographer's location - was placed on the north wall under the window there. The GIF on the right shows me standing in front of the 1948 painting "The Morning of our Fatherland" by the painter Fjodor S. Schurpin that was temporarily displayed in his study. It shows a country no longer war­ ravaged and struggling with infra­structure, food supplies or housing. Schurpin received the Stalin­ Prize Second Class for this painting. The furniture visible in the bay window was there when the house was handed over in 1952 but was subsequently lost. It is possible that it was not removed until the early 1960s, when the leather suite was reupholstered in beige grosgrain and moved from the main room to the bay window.

Inside the room assigned to Truman and his staff still partly furnished with items from the nearby Marmorpalais such as the finely carved writing desk. Inside are two armchairs, one of which served as a desk chair, and six matching chairs in neo-Gothic style, which had been brought for the conference from Wilhelm I's study in Babelsberg Palace and whose upholstery was upholstered in blue velvet. On the right is his private dining room set inside the room. In his first volume of memoirs published a decade after, Truman recorded how “Cecilienhof had been used as a hospital during the war by both the Germans and the Soviets. It had been stripped of all its furnishings, but the Russians had done an impressive job in refurnishing and refitting it for the conference." (379)
Gellately writes in Stalin's Curse how
Truman’s attitude was sunny and accommodating, as can be gathered from the fact that he brought along none other than Joseph Davies, the former ambassador who favoured appeasing the Soviet Union. In a letter to his wife after the first day’s meetings at Potsdam, the president was pleased to have been made chairman of the conference, though he found the role tricky. “Anyway a start has been made and I’ve gotten what I came for–Stalin goes to war on August 15 with no strings on it.” That would mean, he wrote, that “we’ll end the war a year sooner now, and think of the kids who won’t be killed! That is the important thing.” In his diary he added: “I can deal with Stalin. He is honest–but smart as hell.”
Standing in the garden of Cecilienhof and as it appeared from the photo dated July 13, 1945, just days before the start of the conference. Hermann Christlieb's deer statues shown here were acquired in 1938 by Crown Prince Wilhelm and later would be seen from the dining room used by Truman. They were removed in 1983 for fear of vandalism to the park nursery in the New Garden but finally returned on May 27, 2020. In 1983, the sculpture was removed Whilst Admiral Leahy recorded five years later in his memoir I Was There (465) that he "thought Truman had handled himself very well at this first session. He was positive in his manner, clear and direct in his statements. He seemed to know exactly what he wanted to say and do. As for Stalin, nothing had occurred to ruffle the Soviet chieftain, and he was his usual courteous self. It seemed, as a result of the lunch and this meeting, that Truman and Stalin would get along well. The Chief Executive’s first impression was that 'Uncle Joe' personally was most affable and a pleasant companion.” The Soviets however felt that the new American President had not given the impression of great strength and determination; as Andrei Gromyko, the future Soviet Foreign Minister who would be directly involved in deliberations with the Americans during the Cuban Missile Crisis, recalled, "he's nervous, but he's doing his best not to let it show. Sometimes he seems about to smile, but that is deceptive. I have the feeling that the President is kind of hiding in himself. Certainly the fact that he has no experience of such high-level meetings and has never met Stalin before also plays a role."
As Robin Edmonds wrote, at the time Truman 
was not only new to the presidency and new to international relations, but- like almost everyone else- new to the great issues of the atomic bomb, about which he was assailed with conflicting advice (some of it, from Potsdam onwards, British). In all the circumstances-and whatever the Soviet archive may one day reveal-Truman's initial decision is understandable: in effect, to expose the bare minimum of atomic surface to Stalin at Potsdam and then to pause for reflection in Washington. It is, however, clear that had he been aware of the true state of atomic affairs in the Soviet Union at that time, he should either have said more to Stalin than he did on 24 July, or have said nothing at all at Potsdam; and if he had said nothing, it would have been wise to follow up his silence with a personal message from Washington after his return. Instead, he fell between two stools. A half truth is risk all diplomacy. At a minimum, this particular half truth, followed in less than a fortnight by the attack on Hiroshima, must have made Truman look silly in Stalin's eyes at the time.
The schloß library, assigned to none other than Churchill himself (later to be occupied by Attlee) as his personal office. This was the only room for the British on the ground floor. Theoretically, the most natural way for Churchill to have made his way down to the actual conference room from the British delegation's offices upstairs was via the grand wooden stairs that lead down from the first floor to the conference hall. However, the Soviets childishly insisted that he had to make his way in a very roundabout way in order to use a side entrance since they and the American delegations occupied rooms on the ground floor and thus had to enter through side doors, leaving Churchill to have appeared privileged had he been the only one to make his entry to the Conference via the grand stairs. The different quarters were to be colour-coded: blue for the Americans, white for the Russians and pink for the British. Churchill never recorded hi thoughts about Cecilienhof itself, possibly considering a description of the conference location to be too banal in view of the urgent problems to be solved, or not appropriate to the matter. In any case, of the Big Three, he had the greatest connection to the Crown Prince's Palace. Not only the architectural elements of the Tudor style and English country house must have been very familiar to him, but he was also the only one who had personally met a member of the former imperial family. In 1906 he was in Silesia for the Kaiser maneuvers, where he met Wilhelm II.
Churchill arriving with me at the spot, 2017...
Churchill, puffing at a cigar, approached Stalin who was himself smoking a Churchillian cigar. If anyone were to photograph the Generalissimo with a cigar, it would “create an immense sensation,” Churchill beamed, “everyone will say it is my influence.” Actually British influence was greatly diminished in the new world order of the superpowers in which they could agree on the de‑Nazification of Germany but not on reparations or Poland. Now Hitler was gone, the differences were mountainous. When Stalin decided he wanted a stroll in the gardens after a session, a British delegate was amazed to see “a platoon of Russian tommy‑gunners in skirmishing order, then a number of guards and units of the NKVD army. Finally appeared Uncle Joe on foot with his usual thugs surrounding him, followed by another screen of skirmishers. The enormous officer who always sits behind Uncle at meetings was apparently in charge of operations and was running around directing tommy‑gunners to cover all the alleys.” After a few hundred yards, Stalin was picked up by his car.
...and in 2020

Finally, on 24 July, two monumental moments symbolized the imminent end of the Grand Alliance. First Churchill attacked Stalin for closing off Eastern Europe, citing the problems of the British mission in Bucharest: “An iron fence has come down around them,” he said, trying out the phrase that would become “the iron curtain.” “Fairy tales!” snapped Stalin. The meeting ended at 7:30 p.m. Stalin headed out of the room but Truman seemed to hurry after him. Interpreter Pavlov deftly appeared beside Stalin. Churchill, who had discussed this moment with the President, watched in fascination as Truman approached the Generalissimo “as if by chance,” in Stalin’s words. “The U.S.A.,” said Truman, “tested a new bomb of extraordinary destructive power.” Pavlov watched Stalin closely: “no muscle moved in his face.” He simply said he was glad to hear it: “A new bomb! Of extraordinary power! Probably decisive on the Japanese! What a bit of luck!” Stalin followed the plan he had agreed with Beria to give the Americans no satisfaction but he still thought the Americans were playing games: “An A‑bomb is a completely new weapon and Truman didn’t exactly say that.” He noticed Churchill’s glee too: Truman spoke “not without Churchill’s knowledge.”
Montefiore, Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar




Hubert Netzer's 1897 ‘Narzissbrunnen,’ originally displayed at the ‘Berliner Kunstausstellung' in 1903. This was the second such bronze cast-  Munich, from where Netzer hailed, decided to buy the first cast after it appeared on sale at the 1897 Internationalen Kunstausstellung im königlichen Glaspalaste zu München and had it installed in 1896 in the southwestern garden part of the Bavarian National Museum in Munich where it resides today beside a snack bar- and was bought by Kaiserin Auguste Viktoria and placed in 1904 in the Rosengarten near the Neue Palais at Sanssouci. In 1976 the fountain was relocated here to the courtyard of Cecilienhof Palace. The figure of Narcissus is shown bent over and leaning on the edge of a seat-high, water-filled fountain with a trough in his right hand. This in turn stands in a wide fountain below; both are made of bronze. The image captures the decisive moment in the myth when Narcissus is overwhelmed by his own beauty when he looks at his face in the 'water mirror'. 

Beside a reproduction of the Potsdam Map at the Checkpoint Charlie Museum in Berlin, created by the globemakers Greaves and Thomas who write as follows:

Illustrated here is our copy of the Potsdam Map, the original is now displayed in the Churchill War Rooms in Whitehall. We worked with the Machine Shop in order to make this facsimile for display in a museum in Germany. Clearly the acetate had shrunk by the time the allies used it as reference because they then had to draw their proposed divisions across not only the acetate but also on the map itself where the shrinking acetate had exposed the map.
 It is interesting to note that the outside case has its weight recorded of 18lbs clearly a necessity for the flight to Potsdam. Also the case is adapted, the internal rexine material has been cut away to enable the 1944 National Geographic map to be displayed, clearly a case of having to make do with limited resources. 
 The chain which encircles one of the handles, is cold riveted to itself , is padlock secured to the end of it is for securing the chain to another chain, not for keeping the folio shut but possibly for securing to the folio to the person assigned to carry it.
Churchill began Chapter XL of his final volume of the Second World War with "FRUSTRATION was the fate of this final Conference of “the Three”. As he confided to his personal physician, Lord Moran, “After I left Potsdam, Joe did what he wanted. The Russians have been allowed to move their borders westward, leaving eight million poor devils homeless. I would not have allowed it, and the Americans would have supported me." Even if the pessimistic basic tenor was certainly partly determined by the election results of July 26, which were disastrous for him, when his opponent Clement Attlee of the Labor Party won a landslide victory, Churchill's criticism of Poland's western border shift was one, if not the most far-reaching and at the same time the most controversial decision of the Potsdam Conference after it came to an end on the night of August 1st-2nd, 1945. Whilst the most pressing international issues were addressed after the most devastating war in human history, at the end of the negotiations there was a wide gap between the promises and the reality, which led Churchill to title his final volume of his memoirs 'Triumph and Tragedy.' Such conflicts as the dispute over the definition of the German-Polish border were not resolved but postponed to the future. In addition, vague and non-binding formulations, which were intended to unify, would later enable each side to make their own interpretation resulting in both sides of the Cold War each other of violating the Potsdam Communiqué. 
Nevertheless, Potsdam was not a peace conference and was never planned as such- this would have required months of negotiations similar to the Paris peace settlements of 1919 and 1920. At Potsdam however, real and power politics triumphed - clearly evident in the heated question of borders. The policy of the lowest common denominator was being pursued in Potsdam, and it was the policy of concession by the Western powers to a dominant and assertive Soviet stance. Fearing a confrontation, all of Eastern Europe was handed over to Stalin, then at the height of his power and having emerged largely victorious from his first encounter with Truman. The British and Americans were only able to assert themselves on the question of reparations, but the Soviets retained unrestricted access to the Soviet-occupied part of Germany. What, on the other hand, could not be compensated for so quickly was the power-political advantage the Americans enjoyed through the atomic bomb. Stalin had to accept this military weakness and include it in his foreign policy calculations. The age of politics in the shadow of the atomic bomb had begun and nothing changed even after the successful Soviet atomic bomb test in 1949. The spiral of the arms race only turned all the faster. And it began on July 24, 1945 in the conference hall of Cecilienhof Palace, when Truman casually informed Stalin about the atomic bomb.
Sans Souci
Men of the 13th Waffen Mountain Division of the ϟϟ "Handschar" (1st Croatian) at Sanssouci during a three-week training course for imams in July 1943. The Handschar was a mountain infantry division of the Waffen-ϟϟ which from March to December 1944 fought a counter-insurgency campaign against communist-led Yugoslav Partisan resistance forces in Croatia. It was given the title Handschar after a local fighting knife or sword carried by Ottoman policemen. It was the first non-Germanic Waffen-ϟϟ division, and its formation marked the expansion of the Waffen-ϟϟ into a multi-ethnic military force. Comprising of Bosnian Muslims with some Catholic Croat soldiers and mostly German and Yugoslav Volksdeutsche officers and non-commissioned officers, it took an oath of allegiance to both Hitler and the Croatian leader Ante Pavelić, fighting briefly in the Syrmia region before crossing into northeastern Bosnia. It earned a reputation for  savagery, not only during combat operations, but also through atrocities committed against Serb and Jewish civilians. In late 1944, parts of the division were transferred briefly to the Zagreb area, after which the non-German members began to desert in large numbers. Over the winter of 1944–45, it was sent to the Baranja region where it fought against the Red Army and Bulgarians throughout southern Hungary, falling back via a series of defensive lines until they were inside the Reich frontier. Most of the remaining members became prisoners of the British Army; 38 officers were extradited to Yugoslavia with ten executed. Hundreds of former members of the division fought in the 1947–48 Civil War in British Palestine and the 1948 Arab–Israeli War.
With the hakenkreuz flying above and today.
The Ares Ludovisi in the vestibule of Schloss Sanssouci. This marble copy after the Ares Ludovisi was created by Lambert Sigisbert Adam in 1730 as a thank-you gift to King Louis XV of France for the scholarship accompanying the Grand Prix de Sculpture of 1723, which enabled him to study in Rome for several years. It is a copy of a late 4th century BCE work's Roman copy in the Thermenmuseum in Rome. Together with four other sculptures, the sculpture arrived in 1750 as a gift from the French king to Frederick II of Prussia, who had it erected here in the vestibule of Sanssouci Palace.
The library and Kleine Galerie, completely unchanged
The entrance then and now 
The Chinese House garden pavilion which Frederick the Great had erected about seven hundred metres southwest of Sanssouci palace to decorate its ornamental garden and vegetable garden. The master builder Johann Gottfried Büring was commissioned with the planning, who, according to sketches by the king in the years 1755 to 1764, created a pavilion in the contemporary taste of the Chinoiserie, a mixture of ornamental stylistic elements of Rococo and parts of East Asian styles.  The unusually long construction period of nine years is due to the Seven Years' War , during which the economic and financial situation of Prussia suffered considerably. Only after the end of the war, 1763, the cabinets were equipped inside the garden pavilion. Since the building, in addition to its function as a decorative garden architecture occasionally served as an exotic backdrop for smaller festivities, Frederick the Great gave orders to build a Chinese kitchen a few metres southeast of the Chinese House. After a renovation in 1789, only the hexagonal windows remind of the East Asian character of the former utility building.Small surviving remnants of this wall covering were used during the restoration from 1990 to 1993 as a model for a reconstruction of the original.
Next to the Chinese house there is a tall incense burner with the inscription 製年元正雍清大- Daqing Yongzheng yuannian-zhi which translates as "Made in the 1st year of the reign of Emperor Yongzheng " (ie. 1723). In the guide book of the Chinese House it states that the burner came as a gift from the king of Siam Chulalongkorn in 1897 and stood until 1955 in the former rose garden at the New Palace . The swastika ornament of course was widespread in Europe and Asia and is not connected in this case to the Nazis.

Bernau bei Berlin

Memorial to the victims of Fascism. The Bundesschule of the General German Trade Union Confederation (ADGB) was expropriated on May 2 1933 to a Reichsführerschule of the NSDAP and the DAF. The opening on July 16 1933 happened in the presence of Hitler. From 1936 to 1945, the security service school of the security police and SD was in the building.  From the summer of 1943 there was an outside camp in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, of which 300 prisoners were employed in a police station. A memorial in front of the station on a green area on the Breitscheidstrasse has reminded the victims of fascism since September 11, 1949. On the morning of April 20, 1945, Bernau was taken by the Red Army. The city was largely spared from destruction during the war.

Situated at the western border of Berlin in Brandenburg, during the Second World War the Demag-Panzerwerke subcamp of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp was located here. At its height, 2,500 people were imprisoned in the camp and used as slave labour. Schlageterstraße, named after the pre-Nazi nationalist martyr, then and now as Hansa-Straße.

Showing Eisenhardt Castle then and now, Bad Belzig is the capital of the Potsdam-Mittelmark district 43 miles southwest of Berlin. In 1934 ammunition works were established in Bad Belzig including a labour camp with about 1500 forced labourers. During the years 1936-1945, Burg Eisenhardt was the site of the Reichsschule (leadership school) for the Technischen Nothilfe ('technical emergency relief'). (The Technische Nothilfe was abolished in May, 1945, but the idea was revived by Otto Lummitzsch in the form of the Technisches Hilfswerk in 1950, which exists to this day as one of the pillars of the German civil protection infrastructure.) Between 1940 and 1945 a subcamp of the women's concentration camp Ravensbrück with about 750 inmates was also located nearby. Bad Belzig was also the site of a large radio transmitter station, erected in 1939.   

The cloisters were founded by Cistercian monks in 1273, and 500 of them laboured over six decades to erect what is widely considered to be among the finest red-brick Gothic structures in northern Germany. The monastery was secularised in 1542 and fell into disrepair after the Thirty Years’ War. Renovation has gone on in a somewhat haphazard fashion since the early 19th century. Here shown during the Nazi-era and today

Prenzlau Uckermark
The war memorial on Adolf Hitler Platz then and now 

1937 and today, with the B 109 now directing traffic past the Marienkirche and Mitteltorturm. During the Nazi era the town synagogue, erected in 1832, was desecrated and destroyed during the November pogrom in 1938, as did the two Jewish cemeteries at the Wasserturm in today's Stadtpark, whose crushed tombstones were used as street pavements. The New Jewish Cemetery at Puschkinstraße 60 was rebuilt after 1945. During the war Prenzlau suffered roughly 600 fatalities. At the end of April 1945 about 85% of Prenzlauer Stadtkerns was destroyed. Reconstruction began in 1952. Because of the scarcity of housing and the low economic power in the post-war years, mainly prefabricated buildings were erected, which however were popular with the population.

Adolf-Hitler-Strasse then and now (renamed the Großstraße), with the Heilig-Geist-Kapelle (now serving the Heimatmuseum) in the foreground leading to the rathaus. 

Adolf-Hitler-Haus and today, on Karl-Liebknecht-Strasse 
The church with the ehrenmal and today 

The Schiffshebewerk Niederfinow, shown flying numerous hakenkreuzen,  is the oldest working boat lift in Germany.

Wusterhausen an der Dosse 
 The rathaus on Adolf Hitler Platz (with swastika) and today

Brandenburg an der Havel
 Looking at the town from Adolf Hitler Brücke and today.
A concentration camp, one of the first in Germany, was located on Neuendorfer Straße in Brandenburg Old Town. After closing this inner city concentration camp, the Nazis used the Brandenburg-Görden Prison, located in Görden, a suburb of Brandenburg. Later the old gaol became the Brandenburg Euthanasia Centre where the Nazis killed people with mental diseases, including children. They called this operation "Action T4" because of the Berlin address, Tiergartenstraße 4, the headquarters of this planned and well-organised killing "euthanasia" organisation. Brandenburg an der Havel was one of the very first locations in the Third Reich where the Nazis experimented with killing their victims by gas. Here, they prepared the mass killings in Auschwitz and other extermination camps. After complaints by local inhabitants about the smoke, the mobile furnaces used to burn the corpses ceased operation. Shortly after this, the Nazis closed the old prison. Bunker of the type designed by Leo Winkel in Kirchmöser  In 1934, the Arado Aircraft Company (Arado Flugzeugwerke), which originated in Warnemünde, began building a satellite factory in Brandenburg that began producing planes in 1935. The factory was expanded over the next five years, and during the war it produced trainers and other aircraft for the Luftwaffe. The existence of this factory was one of the reasons Brandenburg was heavily bombed in later stages of the war; by 1945 the city was 70 percent destroyed.  Friedrich Fromm, a German officer involved in the July 20 plot to assassinate Hitler, was executed here in March 1945 for his part in the plot, even though Fromm betrayed those conspirators he knew and ordered their execution. 

The rathaus with and without Nazi flag. Hitler spoke here on July 27, 1932 during the election campaign. In the 1938 pogroms, Eberswalde's synagogue was destroyed. During the war several factories employed forced labourers and inmates of the Ravensbrück concentration camp. At the end of the war, the town centre was attacked by the German Luftwaffe, in an attempt to delay the Soviet advance.
Bahnhofsplatz during the funeral of Carin Goering. In 1920, while she was estranged from her first husband, Carin met Hermann Göring at Rockelstad Castle while she was visiting her sister Mary. Four years younger than she, he was working in Sweden as a commercial pilot for the short-lived airline Svensk Lufttrafik and was at the castle because he had flown Count Eric von Rosen, her sister Mary's husband, there. Göring fell in love with Carin and soon started meeting her in Stockholm, even though, scandalous at the time, she was a separated married woman with a young child. She was divorced from von Kantzow in December 1922 and married Göring on 3 January 1923. After their marriage, the Görings first lived in a house in the suburbs of Munich. Carin followed her husband and became a member of the Nazi Party. When Göring was badly injured in the groin during the Beer Hall Putsch in November 1923, Carin took him to Austria, then on to Italy, and nursed him back to health; their romance was used by the propaganda machine of Goebbels and the couple toured around the nation to boost the popularity of the Nazi Party.  Carin suffered from tuberculosis by her early forties. When her mother, Huldine Fock, died unexpectedly on September 25, 1931, it came as a great shock to the 42-year-old Carin. Although her health was still fragile, she went to Sweden for her mother's funeral. The next day, she suffered a heart attack in Stockholm. On the news reaching Göring, he joined her there and stayed with her until she died of heart failure on October 17, 1931, four days before her 43rd birthday.  After her death, Carin's older sister Fanny wrote a biography of her which quickly became a bestseller in Germany. By 1943, it had sold 900,000 copies.  Carin's death came as a great blow to Göring. In 1933 he began to build a hunting lodge, which became his main home, and named it Carinhall in her honour. It was there that he had her body re-interred from her original grave in Sweden, in a funeral attended by Hitler. Göring filled Carinhall with images of Carin, as he did his flat in Berlin, where he created an altar in memory of her which remained even after he remarried in 1935. Carinhall was demolished on Göring's orders as Soviet troops advanced in 1945.  Following the war, remains believed to be those of Carin were recovered by the Fock family, cremated, and re-buried in Sweden. In 1991, remains were found that could also be Carin Göring's and were sent to Sweden for identification. Evidence suggested that these new remains were hers, and were reburied.


Adolf-Hitler-Straße and today. During the war, 963 war prisoners and 2,755 men and women from the countries occupied by Germany had to carry out forced labour for Kjellberg Electrode und Maschinen GmbH, Reichelt Metall-Schrauben AG, and cloth factories. They were accommodated in several warehouses, including the Siemens warehouse. 392 deaths were registered with the forced labourers of the large enterprises.  Between 1945 and 1950 at least 685 persons were arrested in the Finsterwalde district by the secret police of the Soviet NKVD. About 250 people were killed in Soviet special camps or military gaols.

Wittenberge in der Prignitz
Hotel Germania on Adolf Hitler Straße. From August 15, 1942 until February 17, 1945 a concentration camp was established here in Wittenberge which served as a subcamp to the Neuengamme concentration camp. Between the wars much architecture characteristic of the period was built in the form of workers' housing for the rapidly increased population. It suffered as most German towns did during the war. Only the railway workshops remain as significant employers of the old industries but the large, skilled workforce remains for the newer industries of precision engineering and applied chemistry. 

The Schloss from a Nazi-era postcard and today

The Haesler Siedlung (1928–31) featuring Otto Haesler's "trademark" three-sided glazed stair housing on what had been renamed Adolf-Hitler-Ring during the Nazi era. Haesler had been an influential German architect often grouped with Bruno Taut, Ernst May and Walter Gropius as being among the most significant representatives of the Modernist ("Neues Bauen") architecture that became important initially during the Weimar period, notably in respect of residential accommodation. Violently attacked by the regime, in 1934 Haesler went into a form of internal exile, closing down his office in Celle and relocating to Eutin, a small town in Schleswig-Holstein, some 80 miles from the Danish border. Here he continued to build houses, now using the traditional brick construction characteristic of the region, but still with structural elements of modern architecture.  In 1939 Germany invaded Poland, triggering a more general war across much of Europe. By this time Haesler had evidently returned to favour sufficiently to be appointed Deputy City Building Consultant for Lodz , controlled by Germany and increasingly populated by ethnic Germans between 1939 and 1945, and for Lemberg (under German control between 1941 and 1944). In 1943 Haesler was also part of a planning project for the reconstruction of Sebastopol which had recently been largely destroyed in fighting.
After the fall of the Soviet Union, it was revealed that the remains of Hitler and his assistants were secretly buried in graves near Rathenow. In Vinogradov's Hitler's Death: Russia's Last Great Secret from the Files of the KGB, there is reproduced a Soviet map showing that the bodies were buried in a field near the village of Neu Friedrichsdorf, approximately one kilometre east of Rathenow.


Swastikas adorning the marktturm. During the war there was a Stalag for prisoners of war (Stalag IIIa). There was also a work camp for civilians. The Nazis forced people to work for their war effort or else the families of people who worked there would perish. Lack of food and hard work killed thousands. Among them were Poles, Italians, French and many more. There were several places in the town and surrounding areas where they worked. Luckenwalde was taken by the Red Army on April 22, 1945. 

Frankfurt an der Oder
The Marienkirche with the Nazi flag and today. During the Nazi era the town's historic court gaol on Collegienstraße served as the Gestapo prison from 1933 to 1945. After Germany's defeat it was used by the NKVD and the MfS as an investigative detention centre; today it's a music and art school.
During the November pogroms of 1938, the interior of the synagogue built by the then large Jewish community was destroyed by the Nazis in 1822.
During the war the city was largely spared as there were hardly any important industrial or military installations. With the beginning of the Vistula-Oder operation of the Soviet forces, a large wave of refugees from the Germans began, which also moved to Frankfurt (Oder). The total number of refugees in transit amounted to 264,000 to 300,000 people. The city was declared a fortress on January 26, 1945. It was planned to prepare the city for all-round defense and to use it as cover for Berlin. The dam suburb (today Słubice) was to serve as a bridgehead. On the morning of the 16th of April, with the drum-fire of the Red Army, the large-scale offensive against Berlin began. On April 19 at 5:29 am the Oderbrücke was blown up by the Wehrmacht. Russian aviation attacks took place from 20 to 23 April. On the afternoon of the 21st of April, the fortress status was abolished, and a day later the retreat of the fortress troops began. On April 22 and 23, Soviet bomber raids flew. This led to numerous fires, especially in the centre of Frankfurt. On the morning of 23 April 1945 the first Soviet units reached Frankfurt. By the previous bombardment and incendiary bombings, which began in the following days, the inner city was destroyed to 93%. On the evening April 24, the tower of this church, in English the  Church of the Virgin Mary, burned and the vault of the church collapsed months later.


 Himmler visiting the camp and the same site today. The Ravensbrück concentration camp was the largest concentration camp for women in Germany, and second in size only to the women's camp in Auschwitz-Birkenau. After the closure of the Lichtenburg camp in 1939, Ravensbrück was also the only main concentration camp, as opposed to subcamp, designated almost exclusively for women. The Germans began construction of the camp in November 1938 as ϟϟ authorities transported about 500 male prisoners from the Sachsenhausen concentration camp to the proposed site to construct the Ravensbrück camp. By the end of 1942, the female inmate population of Ravensbrück had reached about 10,000. In January 1945, the camp had more than 50,000 prisoners, mostly women, from over 30 countries including political prisoners, “asocials”, Jews, Jehovah's Witnesses, "criminals," "work-shy," and "race defilers."
By January 1945 the barracks were horribly overcrowded. This overcrowding, aggravated by abominable sanitary conditions, resulted in a typhus epidemic that spread throughout the camp.  Periodically, the ϟϟ authorities subjected prisoners in the camp to "selections" in which the Germans isolated those prisoners considered too weak or injured to work and killed them. At first, "selected" prisoners were shot. In early 1945, the ϟϟ constructed a gas chamber in Ravensbrück near the camp crematorium, gassing between 5,000 and 6,000 prisoners before Soviet troops liberated the camp in April 1945.  Starting in the summer of 1942, ϟϟ medical doctors subjected prisoners at Ravensbrück to unethical medical experiments which involved in experimenting with treating wounds with various chemical substances (such as sulfanilamide) to prevent infections. They also tested various methods of setting and transplanting bones; such experiments included amputations. The ϟϟ selected nearly 80 women, mostly Polish, for these experiments. Many of the women died as a result, the survivors often suffering permanent physical damage.

Grünewalde (Lauchhammer)  
The Adolf Hitler oak tree planted in front of the school.  


The schloss flying a Nazi flag from its tower and today, considerably altered. In the Soviet memorial cemetery next to the Wilmersdorfer Waldfriedhof Güterfelde on Potsdamer Strasse nearby is the burial place for an extremely high number of prisoners of war, forced labourers and concentration camp prisoners . An obelisk commemorates 1389 Soviet citizens, 101 Poles, four Yugoslavs, two Italians and a Czech. In the forest cemetery itself is a memorial to 383 Polish and 720 German prisoners in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp who died in 1942.

Perleberg in der Prignitz
The 5.50 metre-high statue of Roland in sandstone located on the northeast side of the market square in front of the former library shown with and without the Nazi flag. He is a knight with decorated plate armour, holding up a sword in his right hand and with his left hand holding a shield featuring the Brandenburg eagle. Roland is supported by a pillar at the back upon which the year 1546 is engraved.  In 1954 the statue was relocated due to the increasing traffic on the former F5 and hence shifted about 1.60 metres from the Town Hall.