A newspaper ad from a Berlin daily in the 1920s.

“Whole Berlin Drives a Horch“, a 1920s advertisement for a Horch 8, a beautiful automobile produced by a car-manufacturer company established in 1899 in Köln-Ehrenfeld.

In 1904, its founder and namesake, August Horch, moved the factory to the Saxonian city of Zwickau (now probably better known as the cradle of the car of the DDR, the unforgettable Trabant). Horch, however, left the company only five years later, in April 1909 (due to a conflict with the board of supervisors). Not even half a year later he started a new enterprise in Zwickau: another car factory.

August Horch in his Horch Torpedo 11/22 PS during the 1908 race Prinz-Heinrich-Fahrt from Berlin to Frankfurt am Main (via Stettin, Kiel, Hamburg, Hannover, Köln and Trier).

Unable to use his own surname for the brand – Horch lost a court case against the old company he established – he and his partners came up with a very clever idea. They translated the old name into Latin and so horch (hear!) became Latin Audi.

Spittelmarkt seen from Leipziger Straße in 1904.

Spittelmarkt, once a central Berlin plaza in the borough of Mitte and today one of the most non-descript places in the city centre.

A 1900 traffic census carried out there rendered following results: between 6 AM and 10 PM the plaza was crossed by 144,223 pedestrians and 21,237 vehicles. At the time, Berlin had 1,888,848 registered residents.

By the end of nineteenth century Spittelmarkt, named after a small hospital (Sankt Gertrauden Hospital) and a chapel built there in early fifteenth century, became one of Berlin’s busiest traffic knots. This was only possible after the 17th-century Gertraudenkirche – built after the old chapel and the “Spittal” burnt down in 1641- was demolished in 1881 and the area underwent a significant re-design.

Gertraudenkirche in 1880, a year before its demolition (photo by Hermann Rückwardt).

In the 1920s another refurbishment followed and approximately a quarter of the century later, after May 1945, Spittelmarkt lay in ruins. Built anew by the East Berlin authorities in the 1970s, it reflected the then “modern” approach to architecture and urban planning. It virtually vanished again, overridden by the expanded traffic lanes as well as overwhelmed by the monstrous concrete high-rises erected around and partly on it.

Spittelmarkt in the 1920s (photographer unknown, PD).

The two map images – sections of a 1910 and a current Google-Map – featured below strongly reflect that change. The western entrance to the 1908 U-Bhf “Spittelmarkt” marked on both of them will help you locate the former within the latter.