Everything You Never Knew You Wanted to Know About Berlin

As a response to many questions and comments about Karstadt at Hermannplatz which this blog introduced last week in the Today in Kreuzberg series, I would like to do away with one, sadly for many, absolute misconception about the aforementioned department store:


It is very much in Kreuzberg although if it were any closer to the border between the two boroughs, it would have to have two postal numbers instead of the one it has now: Berlin 10967.

The border between Neukölnn and Kreuzberg runs along the edge of the pavement in front of the eastern front of Karstadt. Basically, once you step out of the shop and lower your foot from the curb to cross the street to get to the middle of the square (whether on one of the two zebra crossing or not), you have just left Kreuzberg.

 A quick look at the historic Berlin directories provides the final proof that Karstadt is more “Kreuz-“ than “-kölln”: in 1938 it was registered under the following address:

Berlin Directory 1938

Berlin Directory 1938

As it is, the houses and businesses on the eastern side of Hermannplatz belonged – as they still do – to the borough of Neukölln. Whilst those on its western edge (which in practice means only the department store today) stand in Kreuzberg already.

It is a small and not particularly significant piece of information but it shows us nicely that the line between “Kreuz-“ and “-kölln” is even thinner that you´d think.

2 comments on “

  1. berlioz1935
    Aug 26, 2013

    You are absolutely right. For the German readers here is a bit from the German Wikipedia: “Der Hermannplatz war auch immer Grenze. Lief früher die Grenze zwischen Berlin und Rixdorf über den Platz, so war es später die Grenze zwischen den Bezirken Kreuzberg und Neukölln. Mit der Verbreiterung des Platzes wurde die Grenze von der Mitte des Platzes an die westliche Geländekante verlegt. Da das nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg errichtete Karstadt-Gebäude in der ersten Etage über den Gehweg hinausragt, führt das zu der kuriosen Situation, dass das komplett auf Kreuzberger Gebiet stehende Warenhaus in den Neuköllner Luftraum hineinragt und Karstadt hierfür an den Bezirk Neukölln eine Gebühr für „Sondernutzung öffentlichen Straßenlandes“ bezahlen muss (Ende der 1990er-Jahre 15.000 DM, also ca. 7.670 Euro pro Jahr).”

    • notmsparker
      Aug 26, 2013

      Isn´t that funny? I must translate that right now:-) Thanks, Peter!

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