Heinrich von Kleistpark

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Heinrich von Kleistpark

The Heinrich von Kleistpark in Berlin Schoneberg has a weird history. It used to be a mixture between a vegetable patch and glamorous garden for Kurfurst Friedrich Wilhelm von Brandenburg at the end of the 17th century, as well as a Botanical Garden. The grotesque statues and colonnades used to be found at Alexanderplatz and the Schlossplatz in Mitte. And to make the history of this small, green park even more complicated, the Kammergericht is situated here as well. In the nazi period the large show trials took place here.

Schermafbeelding 2013-12-28 om 15.01.56

Heinrich Von Kleistpark: small urban oasis, strange history

When you enter the Heinrich von Kleistpark it seems like a small oasis amongst the large houses of Schoneberg. People run past the trees to get fit and little kids have fun under the large ´Koningskollonaden´ that look a bit like a small Greek temple. A large building with chubby angels on the facade dominate the park. On the left and right of the building iron men try to keep their furious horses under control. It looks like they have belonged to the Heinrich von Kleistpark for centuries, but that is not the case at all.

Schermafbeelding 2013-12-28 om 15.08.24Botanical garden at Heinrich von Kleistpark

The Heinrich von Kleistpark started out as a glamorous garden and vegetable patch for Kurfurst Friedrich Wilhelm von Brandenburg at the end of the 17 th century.  In 1718 it became a botanical garden with rare plants. The 7,5 hectare large botanical garden even had a special house for palm trees. But in 1899  Schoneberg got a lot inhabitants, and that meant there was no longer room for a large botanical garden. Most of the plants were dug out and moved to Berlin Dahlem.

A part of the former Botanical Garden became a ´radrennbahn´ where men on motorcycles hit the gas to proof who was the fastest of them all. In 1909 a very sad accident happened during one of these races. One of these motorcycles spun out of control and ended up in the public that watched the race. And to make matters worse, the motorcycle exploded, killing ten people and leaving 40 seriously wounded.

Schermafbeelding 2013-12-28 om 15.04.34Koningskollonaden at Heinrich von Kleistpark

After that serious accident, the Heinrich von Kleistpark changed even more. In 1911 it ceased to be a Botanical Garden for good and the park got its current name, because the German writer Heinrich von Kleist died a hundred years ago in 1911. But that didn´t mean history and the appearance of the park stopped. The Kammergericht /court of justice was build here and the ´Koningskollonaden that used to be found at Alexanderplatz were moved to the Heinrich von Kleistpark because there was no more space available for them at Alex.

In 1945 a statue made by Peter Jacob Clodt von Jurgensburg was rescued from the bomb zone of the Stadtschloss in Mitte. In that way the old iron men and his horse survived the war. The people inside the Kammergericht during World War Two were less lucky. During the nazi period the large show processes took place here. People who stood up against Adolf Hitler were sentenced to death at the Kammergericht.

Kammergericht BerlinKammergericht at Heinrich von Kleistpark

After the war the Allied Control Counsel used to be in the Kammergericht, until 1999. So if you want to keep fit during the winter and are looking for a park with a fascinating history, the Heinrich von Kleistpark is the place to be. Other interesting Berlin parks are: fairy tale Volkspark Friedrichshain, royal Tiergarten, green Burgerpark Pankow and East Berlin/GDR Treptower Park.

 

 

 

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