Everything You Never Knew You Wanted to Know About Berlin
Looking at the heart of Old Berlin today, it is quite difficult to imagine what it looked like before the Nazi politics led to its being pulverised and turned into part of the sad display known as “Hitler´s Gesammte Werken” (Hitler´s Collected Works).
The area in central Berlin – the heart of Berlin-Mitte known as Marienviertel – visited by tens of thousands of tourists daily and housing such highlights of Berlin architecture as the Fernsehturm (TV Tower), the future replica of the historic Stadtschloss (City Palace) as well as the ancient Marienkirche and the seat of the Berlin Senate – the Red Town Hall – presents a confusing and not exactly pleasant view.
It is quite inconsistent, patched-up and, according to many, far from pretty (not that every corner of Berlin must be “pretty”, however, pleasant centre is something that most cities strive for).
Of course, it takes time and money to improve what has been spoilt. And the extent of that “spoiling” is clearly visible in the photo presented below: here is the Marienviertel and the area around the Rotes Rathaus captured from above before 1965. By mid-1965 the buildings along the northern end of Klosterstrasse had been demolished: the construction of the Fernsehturm began.
The common mistake of blaming East Berlin authorities for the dire state of the city´s centre today (ugly, social-realist monotony instead of quaint little houses and narrow lanes) does not seem to be entirely justified: judging by the look of things A.D. 1965, there was only as much as they could do. Another historic fact forgotten by many is the extensive city refurbishment plan pushed forward by Hitler and his chief architect, Albert Speer. Marienviertel would have disappeared anyway: had the Nazi Germany won the war, it would have stood in the way of the new, massive thoroughfare: the “Ost-West-Achse” or East-West-Axis. Its days had been counted even before the first bombs were dropped onto the city.
We have marked some of the streets and features to help you find your way around – the yellow signs stand for the streets and features that still exist today, while green ones mark those that are gone.
You might want to try to find the exact, and here still future, location of the Fernsehturm. Enjoy the search!