Everything You Never Knew You Wanted to Know About Berlin
The Nazis change the name of one of Kreuzberg´s main and longest streets: Stresemannstrasse ceases to be Stresemannstrasse and turns into Saarlandstrasse instead.
Gustav Stresemann was German Chancellor and Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs during the Weimar Republic and that in 1926 he received Nobel Peace Prize along with the Foreign Secretary of France, Aristide Briand. One could think he was a perfect role model for the role model fixated Führer. Not so. Stresemann´s politics might have been of nationalist, monarchist (although he supported the republic, deep at heart he was alleged to have craved the return of Kaiser´s boot onto the nation´s back) and conservative hue (especially his trade war on Poland in 1920s – but I´m not holding grudges), but he was not a friend of the early edition of the brown-shirt club either. And his wife was Jewish.
Since Saarland had just returned onto the ample bosom of the Thousand-Year Reich from the unenthusiastic soujourn by the French – its fate sealed by Versaille Treaty where it was part of Germany´s repentance for the sins of WW1 – the Führer considered Saarlandstrasse a perfect new name for one of the most important streets of his capital.
But the story of name-changes in Stresemann- aka Saarlandstrasse did not end here. And neither did it begin. In fact, today´s Stresemannstrasse (for that´s what it is called again since 1947) has been every cartographer´s and every Berlin history researcher´s nightmare for a long time.
Since 1831 when it was called Schulgartenstrasse and Hirschelstrasse (two streets in one – bear with me) until today it went through further 13 linguistic and also partly geographic metamorphoses. It was known as Brandenburgische Kommunikation, Anhaltische Kommunikation, Potsdamer Kommunikation only to turn into Königgratzer Strasse when the old city walls (and the gates whose names you have just read) were removed. Then the northern part of the street – from Potsdamer Platz up to Brandenburg Gate – was re-named Budapester Strasse, only to be called Friedrich-Ebert-Strasse and Hermann-Göring-Strasse within less than next 20 years. Today it is known as Ebertstrasse…
The southern part became Stresemannstrasse, then Saarlandstrasse, then Stresemannstrasse again. The section of the street with numbers 71-75 – the one that remained Königgratzer Strasse until 1936 although the rest was called Stresemannstrasse since 1930… (feel free to scream) on the 19th of December 1936 magically turned into Hallesches Ufer. Number 2 to 12.
If you need a drink after this heady dash through the name-maze, go to Cafe “Rundum”. It´s in Stresemannstrasse. Corner Großbeeren…
Or go for a quiet walk to Luisenstädtische Friedhof – the Municipal Louise Cemetary in Bergmannstrasse next to Südstern. There in a massive stone tomb rests Gustav Stresemann, who died of massive stroke in 1929. It is only fitting he should have been buried there: born in Köpenicker Strasse 66 he was Kreuzberger to the bone. Even if Köpenicker Str. 66 is already in Mitte…