Prepare to travel back down the decades as we take you on a journey through 100 years of iconic Berlin’s recent city history. Learn of its central place in the progressive Weimar Republic, the changes that occurred before and after World War II, and the impact of occupation and the Cold War.
1915 - Growing Pains
Berlin has been industrialising rapidly - over the last 30 years, the population has doubled to more than 2 million people. But now, war in Europe is taking a toll. The 1916 Olympics in Berlin have been cancelled. Foods like bread and potatoes are being rationed. Over 200 women take to the streets chanting Frieden! Frieden! (Peace! Peace!) in the “butter riots”.
1919 - A Hub of Scientific Inquiry
In the liberal atmosphere of Weimar Berlin, Magnus Hirschfeld opens the Institute of Sexology in Tiergarten. He coins the term “transsexualism” during his studies into sexuality and gay rights. Other pioneering scientists living in the city include noted physicist Albert Einstein.
1920 - International Dada Fair
Art is taking on new edgy and subversive forms. The Otto Bouchard Gallery holds the first International Dada Fair in 1920, organised by Berlin’s notably political Dadaists. They create the technique of “photomontage”, making satirical collages from newspaper and magazine cuttings.
At the Eldorado, tokens were exchanged for dances with the 'girls' but boys at the De-De Bar were more upfront about the costs of their services. Working-class girls embraced on the dance-floor of Klub Violetta whilst coach-party tourists gawped at the excesses of the infamous Toppkellar.
Supplied by Brendan Nash from www.cabaret-berlin.com
1933 - Fahrenheit 451 in the Opernplatz
May 10 - Berlin is often seen as a left wing stronghold, but tonight in the Opernplatz, pro-Nazi students and professors gather to burn “un-German” books, including those by socialists, sexologists, and Jewish intellectuals. The fires spark the beginnings of a mass exodus of intellectuals and artists across the country.
1936 - Olympiastadion and the Berlin Games
The impressive Olympiastadion in Charlottenburg is built in time for the 1936 Olympic Games. It stands as a symbol of Nazi power and affluence even as their philosophy of Aryan supremacy comes into question...
1939 - Goodbye to Berlin Published
Christopher Isherwood’s semi-autobiographical novel of his time in Schöneberg, Goodbye to Berlin, is published. Contemporary George Orwell describes it as “Brilliant sketches of a society in decay.” The book will become the 1966 musical and 1972 film Cabaret.
1940 - Society of Berlin Fashion Starts
Designers form the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Berliner Modelle to revive Berlin’s flagging fashion industry. Pre-1930s, half of Berlin’s clothes manufacturing was owned or staffed by Jews near Hausvogteiplatz - Nazi plans to emulate Parisian haute couture struggle because most skilled seamstresses and manufacturers have fled or are missing…
1945 - Surrender After the Battle of Berlin
May 8 - Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel of the Wehrmacht ceremonially surrenders to the Soviets at Karlshorst. Hitler is dead by suicide, and many German units have already fought westward to surrender to the Western Allies instead of the The Red Army.
1945 - Four-Way Occupation
Following the Yalta and Potsdam conferences, Germany is divided into eastern and western occupation zones. Despite being wholly within the “Soviet” Germany, Berlin is split into an east-west divide between USSR and the other Allies.
1949 - Creation of Currywurst
Berlin is being rebuilt. Food kiosk owner Herta Heuwer invents a new fast food delicacy, “currywurst”, by slathering grilled pork sausage in a ketchup and curry powder mix that she borrows from British soldiers. The snack is an instant hit with Charlottenburg construction workers.
1961 - Berlin Wall Built
The Communist government of East Germany (GDR) builds a barbed wire and concrete wall between East and West Berlin. This “Antifascist Bulwark” not only stops Western interests from undermining the GDR, it also helps to halt a growing rash of defections.
1963 - Berlin Philharmonie Opens its Doors
The Philharmonie introduces the world to a revolutionary new concept in architectural acoustics. The “vineyard terracing” design by organic architect Hans Scharoun stems from his observation that “people always gather in circles when listening to music informally.”
1963 JFK’s Ich Bin Ein Berliner Speech
Visiting President of the USA John F Kennedy makes an uplifting speech in front of West Berlin’s city hall. He restates US commitment to the area and affirms that freedom is a gift to be celebrated. Berliners receive the speech so well that they posthumously rename the square in JFK’s honour.
As Germany’s tallest building, the Berlin TV Tower with its 368 phallic metres welcomes one million visitors per year. It was opened by the Deutsche Post of the GDR in 1969, topping the much smaller Funkturm of West Berlin by more than 220 metres and proudly dominating the skyline of the city. Ironically, it soon aquired a reputation as Berlin’s tallest church as a huge cross of light appears whenever the sun hits the tower’s spherical glass top
Angela Schmerfeld, Berliner CSD e.V., www.csd-berlin.de
1989 - Fall of the Wall
9 November - Under mounting people pressure, border guards allow East Germans to pass freely to West Berlin at Bösebrücke. The Berlin Wall is soon brought down, with local people chipping away at the wall and celebrating with their neighbours.
1990 - Kunsthaus Tacheles
Tacheles - Yiddish for “straight talking” - becomes a Berlin centre for the arts. Originally called “Friedrichsstadtpassagen”, it was once a Jewish department store, then a Nazi prison. In 1990, artists rename and reclaim the building for creative initiatives.
UNESCO Recognises Museum Island
UNESCO gives World Heritage Status to Museum Island, an area of Berlin that used to be a town called Cölln. Host to the Altes Museum, the Neues Museum and the Bode Museum, this mini metropolis of iconic sites is a distinctive part of Berlin’s cultural landscape.
Denkzeichen Modezentrum Hausvogteiplatz Erected
Rainer Görss’ Memorial Fashion Centre Hausvogteiplatz is erected . The sculpture shows three double-sided mirrors arranged in a triangle. Text inside the structure and on nearby steps documents the fate of Jewish clothing houses during the Nazi era - blank areas indicate manufacturers who disappeared without trace.
2005 - Present
2006 - World Cup Final
Germany hosts the FIFA World Cup 2006 with the final played at Olmypiastadion. Italy defeats France on penalties, but the match is probably better known for France playmaker Zinedine Zidane’s headbutt on Italy defender Marco Materazzi in extra time.
2014 - Rolling Stones 50 & Counting Tour
June 10 - the Rolling Stones perform on the city’s Waldbühne stage in remembrance of the concert that never took place back in 1969. Many East Germans arrested by the Stasi in 1969 finally get to see their rock and roll heroes in unified Berlin, some 44 years later.
BACK TO THE START
Your journey through 100 years of history isn’t over yet! Check out more cities using our menu.
For more information on city breaks to Berlin check out the Expedia site
Share with friends!