Sunday May 17th, 2015

Historic Berlin: Bebelplatz


Photograph by grazia via Flickr Creative Commons

Bebelplatz is located between the Staatsoper Unter Den Linden, the Humboldt University and the Sankt-Hedwigs-Kathedrale. It’s also a short bus ride from the Citystay Hostel.

The spot was supposed to be the centre of the ‘Forum Fredericianum’ with an opera house and palace surrounding it. Because of the outbreak of the First Silesian War in 1740 this project was not realised and the open space remained.


Photograph by Scott Cawley via Flickr Creative Commons

Until 1910 the place was called ‘Opernplatz’ because it was right next to the Staatsoper. From 1910-1947 it was called Kaiser-Franz-Joseph-Platz and from 1947 Bebelplatz (after August Bebel who was one of the founders of the social democratic labour party).


Photograph by Katherine Price via Flickr Creative Commons

On May 10 1933, students assembled there to burn books which were considered ‘un-German’ by the Nazi government. 20.000 books were burned that night including works by Heinrich and Thomas Mann, Erich Kästner, Stefan Zweig, Heinrich Heine, Karl Marx, Alfred Kerr, Kurt Tucholsky and Sigmund Freud.

In 1995, a memorial for the happenings of May 10 1933 was designed by Micha Ullman. It is a glass plate set into the Bebelplatz, giving a view of empty bookcases which would be able to hold 20.000 books.

Want to know more? Check out this video!