Ministry of Aviation (Reichsluftfahrtministerium)

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Ministry of Aviation (Reichsluftfahrtministerium)

Today the enormous building in Berlin Mitte is used as the ministry of finance. It was also one of the landmarks of Nazi Berlin when it was build. When the nazi’s came to power they created the new ministry of aviation: Reichsluftfahrtministerium. This was no coincidence. After he came to power in 1933 Adolf Hitler prepared Germany for a new war and aviation was going to play a crucial part in the Second World War. Interestingly Erhard Milch, who had a Jewish father, played an important role at the ministry.

Berlin, Reichsluftfahrtministerium

The ministry of aviation in 1938 on the corner of Lepzigerstrasse and Wilhelmstrasse in Berlin.

The new ministry also deserved a new building, Hitler emphasized. Between 1935-1936 an enormous building of 56.000 m2 arose at the Wilhelmstrasse. At that time Iit was the biggest office building in Berlin. The most important person at the ministry was Herman Goring, who was minister of aviation (Reichsluftfahrtminister) and the leader of the Luftwaffe (air force). He was one of the nazi leaders. Hitler named him his successor in 1941.

‘I decide who is Jewish’

Berlin, Richtfest des Reichsluftfahrtministeriums

Goring and Milch.

Another prominent person at the ministry of aviation was Erhard Milch. Surprisingly his father was Jewish, but this was a public secret in nazi Germany. After the First World War he led the Luftwaffe. When Hitler came to power, he made Milch state secretary of aviation. In 1935 Milch came under a lot of pressure because of rumors that his father was Jewish. However he was protected by the influential Goring. He put Milch’s mother under pressure to sign a document that Milch’s real father was Karl Bauer, an uncle of his mother who had passed away. „I decide who is Jewish”, Goring said after this incident. During the Second World War Milch played an important role; he was in charge of the production of aircrafts. After the war Milch unsuccessfully tried to vanish, but was caught by the Allied Forces. At the trials of Nuremberg he received a life long sentence and was convicted as a war criminal and for crimes against humanity. However, after he had spend 15 years in prison he was released. Milch moved to Dusseldorf and died there in 1972.

This ministry of aviation was severely damaged during the Second World War. Surprisingly the communists that ruled Berlin after the war renovated it. The GDR used it as a ministry of finance. After the Berlin Wall fell the government of reunited Germany moved to Berlin. The building was again used by the government, by the new ministry of finance. More interesting buildings related to nazi Berlin can be found in this neighborhood. For example the museum Martin Gropius Bau and the Topographie des Terrors that has a fascinating exhibition on the cruelty of the nazi’s.

 

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