Everything You Never Knew You Wanted to Know About Berlin
The purpose of this new series of posts about Berlin-Kreuzberg is to present places in the borough as they were and as they are today.
Accompanying texts will explain more about the chosen locations and their history. The images will show the changes they underwent even if it means showing an empty space where a ballroom, a department store, an amusement park or a cinema used to be.
The whole of Berlin is a treasure trove of such places. But we will be digging in Kreuzberg. For that is where I am.
And right at this moment, dear reader, so are you.
YOU ARE HERE: SCHLEIERMACHERSTRASSE
The street, officially named on December 22, 1875 (you can read more about it in one of the previous posts here) and as such one of the older streets in Kreuzberg 61, was lucky not to have been badly damaged during the WW2 air-raids.
The only victims of incendiary bombs dropped on the city then were the house No. 19 visible here on the corner and the greater part of the Kaserne or the army barracks on the right.
The Distillation or a pub serving home-made Schnapps (strong alcoholic beverage) that used to occupy the ground floor at Schleiermacherstrasse 19 belonged to one Gottfried Schlüter who also lived at the same address. Unfortunately, the name of his pub is unknown as the entries in Berlin directory at the time failed to mention them.
The history of the barracks, on the other hand, is pretty well doumented: built in between 1875-1878 for the 2. Garde Dragoner Regiment Kaiserin Alexandra von Rußland (2nd Cavalry Regiment Empress Alexandra of Russia) it served the regiment until it was disbanded in 1918. The cavalry soldiers from that regiment could fine-tune their horsemanship on the Reitbahn (manege) on the other side of Gneisenaustrasse where the small football field and a playground are today.
After the bombed remains of the barracks were removed, the area between Blücherstrasse 26 (the official address of the regiment), Schleiermacherstrasse and Baerwaldstrasse was used by Berliner Stadtreinigungsbetriebe (Berlin Waste Services). Later one part of the plot became a primary school with all necessary facilities, while the fast crumbling but still standing barracks buidlings – the old stables – serve as ateliers for international artists.
In the picture taken in 2012 you can see the sports hall of Reinhardswald-Grundschule where the 2nd regiment used to have its headquarters. The house in Schleiermacherstrasse 19, although not entirely destroyed during the war, must have suffered damages serious enough to make it unusable.
According to this picture available through GoogleEarth Gottfried Schlüter´s house was was still standing in 1953. But despite the changes something remains: the Destillerie was reborn as a corner pub known as “Backbord”.