Everything You Never Knew You Wanted to Know About Berlin
On October 7 1949 the Provisorische Volkskammer, or Provisional People’s Chamber, German political authority within the Soviet occupation zone, announced the constitution of the Deutsche Demokratische Republik, better known as East Germany.
It took place exactly one month after the first meeting of West German Bundesrat (the Federal Council) and Bundestag (the Federal Diet which is comparable to the British Lower Chamber) – an event which meant that Bundesrepublik Deutschland was officially a state.
The GDR (German Democratic Republic) was born in the famous Haus der Ministerien in Wilhelmstraße, a massive edifice created by Ernst Sagebiel for Hermann Göring’s Reichsluftfahrtsministerium, Third Reich’s Ministry of Aviation. Göring and Sagebiel knew each other well – the architect was also the father of came to be known as “Mother of All Airports”: Zentralflughafen Tempelhof. Today the building, known as Detlev-Rohrwedder-Haus (after an the assassinated head of the Treuhandanstalt, killed in 1991) , is the seat of the Federal Ministry of Finance.
So it was in this building that Wilhelm Pieck, one of the founding-fathers of the SED, Socialist Unity Party which for the next forty years would remain the infallible ruling political power in the land, announced the results of a vote held to decide the future of the Soviet Occupation Zone. The decision might have appeared unanimous – and no wonder considering that the members of the main committee were practically all members of the SED – but it was not easily taken. Its outcome was clear: in case they went ahead with the plan, Germany would be officially divided. It seemed that exactly that would be the best path to follow after in May the same year West German Parlamentarischer Rat (Parliamentary Council) in Bonn drafted and promulgated West Germany’s provisional constitution.
By October 1949 two Germanys, each deeply convinced of their own right, faced each other along a new border.
The beautiful mural decorating the northern facade of the building, created by Max Linger on Meißner porcelain tiles and called “Aufbau der Republik” (Restoration of the Republic), reflects the enthusiasm as well as reflects the hopes which accompanied the birth of the new East Germany. Sadly, like in the case of all other East European countries, the experiment was doomed to fail.