Tag Archives: East Berlin

The Berlin Wall

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The Berlin Wall (German: Berliner Mauer) was a barrier constructed by the German Democratic Republic (GDR, East Germany) starting on 13 August 1961, that completely cut off (by land) West Berlin from surrounding East Germany and from East Berlin.  The barrier included guard towers placed along large concrete walls, which circumscribed a wide area (later known as the “death strip“) that contained anti-vehicle trenches, “fakir beds” and other defenses. The Eastern Bloc claimed that the wall was erected to protect its population from fascist elements conspiring to prevent the “will of the people” in building a socialist state in East Germany. In practice, the Wall served to prevent the massive emigration and defection that marked Germany and the communist Eastern Bloc during the post-World War II period.

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The Berlin Wall was officially referred to as the “Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart” (German: Antifaschistischer Schutzwall) by GDR authorities, implying that neighbouring West Germany had not been fully de-Nazified.  The West Berlin city government sometimes referred to it as the “Wall of Shame“—a term coined by mayor Willy Brandt—while condemning the Wall’s restriction on freedom of movement. Along with the separate and much longer Inner German border (IGB) that demarcated the border between East and West Germany, both borders came to symbolize the “Iron Curtain” that separated Western Europe and the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War.

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Reichstag

The Reichstag building (German: Reichstagsgebäude; officially: Plenarbereich Reichstagsgebäude) is a historical edifice in BerlinGermany, constructed to house the Reichstag, parliament of the German Empire. It was opened in 1894 and housed the Reichstag until 1933, when it was severely damaged in a fire. After World War II, the building fell into disuse; the parliament (Volkskammer) of the German Democratic Republic met in the Palast der Republik in East Berlin, while the parliament (Bundestag) of the Federal Republic of Germany met in the Bundeshaus in Bonn.

The ruined building was made safe against the elements and partially refurbished in the 1960s, but no attempt at full restoration was made until after German reunification on 3 October 1990, when it underwent a reconstruction led by internationally renowned architect Norman Foster. After its completion in 1999, it once again became the meeting place of the German parliament: the modern Bundestag.

The term Reichstag, when used to connote a parliament, dates back to the Holy Roman Empire. The building was built for the Reichstag of the German Empire, which was succeeded by the Reichstag of the Weimar Republic. The latter devolved into the Reichstag of Nazi Germany, which left the building (and ceased to act as a parliament) after the 1933 fire and never returned; the term Reichstag has not been used by German parliaments since World War II. In today’s usage, the German word Reichstag (ImperialDiet Building) refers mainly to the building, while Bundestag (Federal Diet) refers to the institution.

 

Berlin reichstag west panorama

 

 

reichstag perspective