“Berliner Dom is the biggest church of East Berlin. The column in the foreground by the bridge entrance and the pink pipe is interesting. When the East and West Berlin were united in 1990 the city encountered some infrastructure problems. Although most of the water,electric and natural gas pipelines were laid down underground, some of them were temporarily kept above the ground. In some quarters these “temporaries” survived to this day....The Grunewaldkirche is a very impressive building indeed and all of it’s surroundings is illuminated by natural gas lamps....”
Translated to English from Ara Kebapcioglu’s e mail dated February 20,2014.
Few years ago I had published a chapter in istanbullite.com titled : 1937 Berlin Letters . It consisted of a collection of stories, photos, postcards from my father’s days spent in Berlin and other cities in Germany just before World War II broke out. From his collections I was fascinated with the city’s, layout, architecture, parks, monuments, museums and utmost with her rich history. Undoubtedly Berlin was the most beautiful city in Europe at that time with its large “Alle”s surrounded by “Linden trees”, sky scraping cathedrals and huge monuments of the Prussian reign.
I still remember as a young child in 1958, thirteen years after the end of the war, there were several ghost buildings on the Königs Alle in Düsseldorf, destroyed by the air raids of the British. Berlin had probably taken the biggest toll during the war;several famous buildings were completely destroyed, some remained intact and the damaged ones were either repaired or reconstructed in the decades to come. The city, although I have never seen her with live eyes, always fascinated me and to this day remains in my number one spot among the places I want to visit in the future. So, when my good friend, loyal reader and critique of my stories to the site, Ercan Alp sent me a few pictures from his recent visit to Berlin, I could not help myself but start a new section titled 2014 Berlin letters. I also asked another good friend and our Paris contributor to Istanbullite; Ara Kebapcioglu to send me few photos of historical buildings he might have taken in Berlin. As usual Ara responded immediately with Berlin pics of his own.
Here are few of their photos of the historical buildings in Berlin today, compared how they looked like before the World War II from the Berlin Letters of 1937. To the pictures I have added brief history of the buildings as well as few of the comments my friends had made about them.
Museum Island Berlin* (German: Museumsinsel) is the name of the northern half of an island in the Spree river in the central Mitte district of Berlin, Germany, the site of the old city of Cölln. It is so called for the complex of five internationally significant museums, all part of the Berlin State Museums, that occupy the island's northern part:
The Bode Museum on the island's northern tip, opened in 1904 and then called Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum. It exhibits the sculpture collections and late Antique and Byzantine art.
The Pergamon Museum, the final museum of the complex, constructed in 1930. It contains multiple reconstructed immense and historically significant buildings such as the Pergamon Altar and the Ishtar Gate of Babylon.
"The Old National Galerie with Emperor Friedrich IV's monument in front was the symbol of pride of German art in Prussia in 1871."
The Berliner Dom is a baroque Cathedral built between 1894 and 1905. It is located on an island in the river Spree, also known as the Museum Island. The current building is the third church built at this location.The first Protestant Cathedral was build here in 1750 as the Court church of the Hochenzollern dynasty replacing the existing Dominican church. It was remodeled by Architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel. In 1894 following Emperor Wilhelm II's orders the building was demolished and a new Baroque style Cathedral erected in it's place by Julius Raschdorf. The building was heavily damaged during the second World War and reconstruction of the Church was delayed until 1975. It's interior was rebuild between 1984 and 1993 and finally in 1996 the new Cathedral with it's simplified form was inaugurated.
from istanbullite.com's 1937 Berlin letters
"By allowing Sultan Abdulhamit to build the Hidjaz -Bagdat Railroad the Germans were able to convince the Sultan to give away the Pergoman Altar and relocate it to Berlin. During the II World War the altar was completely disassembled and put in hiding and later reassembled by the East Germans."
Photos Ercan Alp
Pergamon Museum is situated on the Museum Island in Berlin along with other museums but without a doubt it is the top attraction of the island, visited by three million visitors every year. The Museum was built in 1930 and houses the Pergamon altar and the market gate of the city of Miletus which were reconstructed from pieces brought here from Bergama, Turkey. The excavation by German archaeologist Carl Humann in the Bergama area took place between 1864 and 1885 during the Sultan Abdulhamid II. era and the excavations were brought to Berlin with the Sultan’s tacit approval. During World War II the museum received extensive damage from air attacks,large pieces were taken out of the museum to safe keep and most of them were taken to Russia by the Red Army. In 1958 most of the collection was returned to Berlin to East German authorities and put back to the museum; but some significant articles were left behind in Moscow and St Petersburg museums. With the reunification of East and West Germany in 1990 the remaining pieces in the Pergamon museum were reconstructed and the museum was reopened to the public. Turkish authorities to this day still are trying to get back all of the articles which were taken from Bergama, by claiming the illegitimacy of the acquisition of the articles.
Antiquity and Islamic Art
The Gateway for the Miletus market built in 200 A.D., collapsed during the earthquake in 11 th Century, the pieces were brought here during 1908-1911 and after twenty year of hardwork rebuild to it's current look. E.A.
The Ishtar Gate brought from Babylon in 575 B.C. was built by Nebuchadnezzar II . The door in the photo is he small entrance door, the second Gate behind this is being kept in a storage area since 1930 due to it's humongous size. E.A.
Aleppo Room, is the foyer of a rich broker's house from Aleppo ,circa 1600.
Reichstag 1937 before W.W. II
After Allied bombing in1945
Reichstag today reconstituted with the glass dome
Photo Hamza Ozmeral Archives
WAR OFFICE SECOND WORLD WAR OFFICIAL COLLECTION" (photographs) Made by: No 5 Army Film & Photographic Unit
Photo Ara Kebapcioglu
The historical Reichstag building which had served the German Empire and later the Weimar Republic as the house for the legislative branch was constructed in 1894. The building which has Dem Deutschen Volke* written on it’s forehead was severely damaged in 1933 by a fire and abandoned by the Nazi Reichstag of Germany. The building was further damaged by the Allied bombings in 1945 and later partially rebuilt in 1960 by the East Germans. After the reunification of both Germanies in 1990, the building was completely reconstituted and opened in 1999 as the meeting place of the German Parliament. The dome which was destroyed t by the fire and the Allied bombings was replaced with a glass dome, housing an observation deck with a magnificent 360 degree sky view of Berlin.
Brandenburg 2013, People's gathering, Ara Kebapcioglu
Brandenburg Gate, 1937 ,Hamza Ozmeral Archives
Brandenburg Gate, the famous landmark of Berlin was built ın 1791 by the Prussian Emperor Friedrich II in the form of a triumphal arc and to serve as symbol of peace. The gate which once led to the palaces of the Prussian monarchs is in the western section of Berlin at the intersection of Unter den Linden Boulevard and Ebert Strasse right by the Pariser Place. A triumphant Napoleon once marched through the gate in 1806 after defeating the Prussians and took the Quadriga* to Paris. But after the defeat of the French and Prussian occupation of Paris in 1814 the Quadriga was returned back to Berlin and put back on the Brandenburg gate. The arch which was designed after Propylea, the gateway to Acropolis in Athens was the meeting place for important events throughout the modern German history including serving as the showcase of power and might of Nazis. During World War II the gate and Quadriga received extensive damage and following the partition of Germany the gate was closed to public as part of the Berlin Wall. During the demonstrations which led to the unification of East and West Berlin in 1989, the Brandenburg gate once again took the center stage and media coverage was often carried from here. In 2002 the gate was fully restored to it’s original form. Today the gate area including the Pariser Place is closed to traffic and serves as a meeting place for people for social gatherings, shows, watching fireworks and sightseeing.