Berlin underwent extensive change during the Third Reich. Seeking to build a capital to match his megalomaniac ambitions, Hitler wanted to transform the city into the Capital of the World: Germania. Not all the damage suffered during the war was the work of allied bombing: Nazi planners were also responsible for targeted demolition.
The Nazi centres of power
In Prussian Berlin, the Wilhelmstraße was a synonym for government power, a location from which Hitler also governed. One of the few buildings surviving the Second World War was the Ministry of Aviation. Close by is the Documentation Centre, the Topography of Terror, a memorial built on the site of the Gestapo, SS and Reich Main Security Office. This area was also once the site of Hitler?s new Reich Chancellery. Suffering complete destruction in the war and subsequently demolished, its façade had previously filled the entire Voßstraße. Some of the marble used in the building can now be found in the Underground Station Mohrenstraße. Close to Hitler?s former bunker is the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.
Life and death in the last days of the Second World War: the Prenzlauer Berg
I have spoken to men and women who experienced the last days of the war in their homes in the Prenzlauer Berg. Hearing their personal stories and walking through Berlin it is clear that the Second World War left a lasting impression not only on those who lived through it, but on the urban fabric of Berlin. We can see some of these traces when walking through the Schönhauser Allee, Greifenhagener Straße and in the Gleim quarter. The tour also touches on the 150 year history of the Prenzlauer Berg, the events of the war and the subsequent development of the area.
The remnants of Germania and National Socialist Architecture
Albert Speer, Hitler?s Minister of Armaments and pet architect, was given the task of transforming Berlin into Germania, Capital of Germany and the World. To this end, he ordered the demolition of the Alsen quarter to make room for the planned Great Hall. Previously located next to the Reichstag, the Victory Column was also moved to its present location in the Tiergarten, to make way for a new North-South transit route. Of a more functional nature, the ?Heavy Load-Bearing Body? a massive concrete cylinder was constructed to test the load-bearing capacity of Berlin?s sandy soil and decide whether the large structures of Germania were ultimately realizable. What in effect was a massive lump of concrete can still be visited today. Of much greater elegance is the Olympic Stadium built for the Summer Games of 1936 and refurbished 2000-2004. Flanking the stadium located in Berlin's North-West was a parade ground with capacity for half a million, the May Field, the Bell Tower and the Forest Theatre. More central in location is the Soviet memorial in the Tiergarten. Constructed at the end of the Second World War, it was placed on the intersection of the North-South Axis and the West-East Axis to mark the end of National Socialist plans.