In the eyes of the Nazi’s it was the place to show the world the greatness of Germany: the Olympia Stadion (Olympic Stadium). The Nazis build it especially for the Olympic Games of 1936, when Hitler ruled Germany. He wanted to show that the Aryans were ubermenschen, the best people in the world. However the star of the Olympics wasn’t a German, but the African-American athlete Jesse Owens, who won four gold medals in Berlin.
The stadium itself is pompous and impressive at the same time, with remarkable stairs on one side. It had a stunning capacity of 100.000 spectators when it opened its doors. Surprisingly, a big part of the Olympia Stadion is located under the ground.
During the second world war the stadium became a battle ground. March 1945 a lot of boys of the Hitler Jugend died near the stadium (some historians claim that thousands were killed, others state that about 70 died). They had no chance against the tanks of the Russian Armee who had taken over the stadium at that time.
After the Second World War it was used again as a sport stadium, that was part of West-Berlin. The professional football club Hertha BSC Berlin plays its home matches in the stadium. Between 2000-2004 the Olympia Stadion was renovated and modernized. Today it can hold 74.244 spectators. In 2006 the final of the FIFA World Cup took place in the Olympia Stadion: Italy beat France.
The curious history of architect Werner March
The Olympia Stadion has a turbulent history and the same could be said of its designer. Architect Werner March volunteered to join the NSDAP (Hitler’s party) in 1933, the year Hitler came to power. The Fuhrer was very fond of March. In the year the Olympic Games took place, Hitler made him a professor. During the Second World War March fought as a field officer in the German army. After the second world war March found his work place and house demolished in Berlin.
He moved to Minden. And he managed to continue his career. He worked on the reconstruction of the dom and Rathaus in Minden. Two building that ironically were demolished and needed rebuilding because of the war March’ hero Hitler had started. In 1953 March even became a professor again. The architect who had joined the NSDAP at an early stage, of whom Hitler was fond and who fought in the war for the Nazi’s once again lived in Berlin as a professor. March taught at the Technische Hochschule Berlin (Berlin Institute of Technology) until his retirement (1960). He died in Berlin-Dahlem in 1976 and was buried at the Luisenfriedhof II in Berlin.
owadays the Lustgarten on the museum island is a beautiful small park. It is a favorite of families and tourists to sit back and watch the world go by. It used to also be one of the favorite places of the Nazi’s in Berlin. They used the Lustgarten many times for speeches and rallies, including speeches by Adolf Hitler. But it was also the place were 200.000 people demonstrated against him.
Rosa Luxemburg Platz has a very bloody history. In the twenties the communist party had their headquarters at Rosa Luxemburg Platz. They often fought with the Nazi’s in this area. Police officers kept a keen eye on both sides, which were the key ingredients for a major row. When the Nazi’s came into power they renamed this square Horst Wessel Platz.