Sunday May 17th, 2015

Citystay Travel Tips: Berlin’s History Part I


Photograph via Pixabay

Berlin is one of the most historically exciting and interesting cities in the world. Here at Citystay Hostel, we believe that one must know everything about a city’s past to thoroughly enjoy it’s present and even it’s future. So for this Citystay Blog post, we’ll be giving readers a breakdown–a cheat sheet, of sorts–of part 1 in Berlin’s fascinating history.

Berlin is the capital, as well as the heart and soul, of Germany. Located in the North-eastern region of country, it lies along the river Spree and is 70 Kilometers west of the border of Poland. It began in the 13th century and was known as the “Great Swamp Village” as well as a trading centre but later came to the world’s attention due to its tragic past. Berlin, less than 800 years old, is young compared to other cities in Europe. It later came to be the capital of the Kingdom of Prussia (1701-1918), the German Empire (1871-1918), the Weimar Republic (1919-1933) and the Third Reich (1933-1945). The deepest scars in its history occurred during the time of Hitler and after the 2nd World War where the city was divided.

Hitler’s reign began after Germany’s humiliating defeat in World War I. It was a time of social unrest within the city wherein revolutionary riots caused the Republic to be announced. Despite the economic and social problems, Berlin became the hub for art, culture, theatre, vaudevilles, and an energetic nightlife. This era came to be known as the “Golden Twenties.” However, this decadent era did not last long, by the 1929 stock market crash, 450,000 people were unemployed. Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party won its first seats in the city parliament that same year. The Republic was quickly being broken down and on July 1932, the Prussian government under Otto Braun was dismissed by presidential decree. The darkest days were soon to come, as Hitler became Chancellor on January 30, 1933. Thus began the mass persecution of Jews, Homosexuals, Communists, Oppositionals and anyone else he could use as a scapegoat for the country’s financial and societal issues. Before the Nazi’s came into power, there were 160,000 Jews in the city, and by the end of their reign, only 1200 Jews survived by hiding.

In 1943, Berlin was bombed by the Allied forces and by 1944 raids on major German cities had reached its peak. In April 1945, the ‘Race to Berlin’ began during the wherein the Allied generals competed to enter the city. Despite their obvious defeat and pressure from the Red Army, Hitler refused to surrender and remained in command. On April 30, 1945 Hitler and Eva Braun (his long-time companion and briefly his wife) killed themselves in Führerbunker underneath the Reich Chancellery. In May 2, 1945, Berlin came into the hands of the Soviets. After the Nazi regime and World War II, the city was left in ruins.

Want to know what happened in Berlin after the war? Stay tuned for Part 2 in Citystay’s hostel’s Berlin Blog!