BERLIN: Aftermath

Time to read:

3 minutes

Berlin was the ultimate Allied objective in the WWII European theater, and the war left its mark.

Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church is a symbol of Berlin, like the Brandenburg Gate or the TV tower in Alexanderplatz. It was originally built in the 1890s. The damage stems from a WWII bombing raid.

The current church has an attached foyer and a separate belfry with an attached chapel. It was built between 1959 and 1963, according to Wikipedia. The damaged spire of the old church has been retained, and the church’s ground floor has been made into a memorial hall. Its nickname here is “der hohle Zahn” (the hollow tooth).

If the bullet holes are still here 70 years later, I guess they’re here to stay.

Former Reich Aviation Office

The Reich Aviation Office used the same factory-like lines and steel and concrete as the Bauhaus, whose impersonal, industrial living was to improve life for “the people.” But a classical facade of limestone and travertine marble was added. “By plastering his radical modernism over with superficial conservatism, Hitler could seem all things to all people,” historian James Hawes wrote. Although it played a central role in the war effort, the seven-story, 2,800-room building survived practically undamaged. The current occupant, the nation’s Department of Finance, says that by using the building, it can keep its history alive so future generations never forget the Nazi chapter of Germany’s past.  

Elser memorial. Georg Elser was the man who tried to kill Hitler with a bomb in a Munich beer hall in 1939.

At 50 feet high, the outline of Elser’s face floats above the trees that line Wilhelmstraße.

McDonald’s. Souvenirs. Tourists getting their photo taken with fake U.S. and Soviet soldiers. This photo says it all about Checkpoint Charlie today. This development saddens anyone who went through here in the Service. The Germans are talking about doing something serious with this area.

A sign just like this was here when I passed through into East Berlin in the ’70s. Now I hear that the original is in the nearby Wall Museum and that the real guardhouse is in the Allied Museum in the far southwest of the city, deep in the old American sector.

This is all that’s left of Hitler’s bunker. The buildings were demolished by the Soviets. Per Wikipedia, the underground complex remained largely undisturbed until 1988–89, when the Wall came down and the reconstruction frenzy began. The excavated sections were largely destroyed during reconstruction of this area after the fall of the Wall.

The site remained unmarked until 2006, when a small plaque was installed with a schematic diagram. Some corridors of the bunker still exist but are sealed off from the public, Wikipedia says.

Greater Berlin has at least 15 Sites of Remembrance, the best known of which is the Memorial of the Murdered Jews of Europe (the Holocaust Memorial).

The undulating, sloping ground is designed to keep you, like the targeted Jews, from feeling in control and comfortable.

2,711 standing concrete slabs of varying heights. The architect, New Yorker Peter Eisenman, said there’s “no goal, no end, no way in or out.”

The remembrance sites, which include the German Resistance Memorial, the Topography of Terror exhibit and the House of the Wannsee Conference, have an educational purpose. They make a special effort to reach the most impressionable age groups.


One response to “BERLIN: Aftermath”

  1. patyclark Avatar

    I well remember, during my visit to East Germany in 1977, having the remnant fo church pointed out to us and being told that it was being left as-was asa reminder of what the German people had allowed to be brought on themselves. I don’t know if it’s the same church.

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