Everything You Never Knew You Wanted to Know About Berlin
After more less a year of construction the first train departs from the freshly finished Görlitzer Bahnhof.
The station was designed by August Orth, who also gave Berlin Emmaus Kirche in Lausitzer Platz, Zionskirche in Prenzlauerberg and Stettiner Bahnhof (today Nordbahnhof in Berlin Mitte). It was supposed to be the heart of a private train line built by Eisenbahnkönig (“The Railway King”) Bethel Henry Strousberg (actually Baruch Hirsch Strousberg) between Berlin and Görlitz (today German Görlitz and on the other side of the Oder Zgorzelec in Poland). From there it was possible to continue towards Breslau (today Polish Wroclaw) and Vienna.
Görlitzer Bahnhof was not the only gem of architecture designed by Orth for Strousberg. The by now legendary Palais Strousberg in Wilhelmstrasse 70, in its heyday the most splendid and nouveau-rich palace in Berlin, made Strousberg´s friends and enemies envy him and mock his high-society pretences. After the Railway King´s demise, when he was forced to sell it for a fraction of the actual price, hardly anyone felt sorry for him. His many achievements and success were quickly forgotten. And his old palace became the seat of British Embassy and remained so until the WW2 air-raids removed the proof of Strousberg´s vanity from the face of the earth.
But in September 1866 the world was still the Railway King´s oyster. On September 13th the military train from Prussian-Austrian war travelling towards the battlefields and glory left Görlitzer Bahnhof for Cottbus.
On December 31st, 1867 the line was officially extended to reach Görlitz.
For years the station was witness to many events and part of millions of human fates (about one of them you can read on a fantastic German blog written by my most faithful reader and born & bred Kreuzberger now living in Australia, Pethan 1935). Its own fate was sealed on April 29th, 1951 when the last train on this line left for Königs Wusterhausen from the station badly damaged during the war.
Between 1961 and 1967 despite the protests of the residents of the Kiez (neighbourhood as a social group rather than geographic area) the remaining buildings were torn down. The initial plans to build houses on the newly won parcels never came to fruition. Neither – and may I say, luckily for us all – did the plans of running the southern tangent of Berlin motorway through the former station and Oranienstrasse.
Today hardly anything remains of the then jewel in the steaming crown of the city.
You can read more about Görlitzer Bahnhof in one of the older posts under this link.