Bundestag: democracy returns to Berlin
The Bundestag is the stage where democracy failed poorly and rose out of it’s ashes again, after the Cold War. When the Bundestag was built in 1894, democracy was on the verge of collapse. No one knew how to govern the country because there was hardly any experience with governing Germany.
Germany had never had a central government, until 1871. Before that time different states governed their own piece of land. In 1871 emperor Wilhelm the first ruled the newborn German Empire.
Political mess at the Bundestag
But after the First World War, his son, emperor Wilhelm the second, lost his power after turning Germany into a political mess. When the The Reichstag was build, the emperor Kaiser Wilhelm II already hated it. He thought the new building was a complete failure and therefore he nicknamed it the Reichsaffenhaus. The architect had to change his drawings over and over again to satisfy him, but the Kaiser never liked the building. The people of Berlin felt sorry for the architect. After Germany was defeated during the First World War Wilhelm II fled the country after he was marked as a war criminal. While he was chopping wood in the Netherlands in the small place Doorn, many different political parties gained and lost power. Soon the German people nearly lost faith in democracy.
Fascists and communists fought each other on pamphlets, but also in real life. A lot of blood splashed around in Berlin. Communist girl Rosa Luxemburg was killed nearby the Bundestag. In the same period the Reichstag was set on fire. The Dutch communist Marinus van der Lubbe was found guilty and executed. But people whispered too that fascists caused the fire to make the communists look bad.
After the fire a state of emergency was declared and in the chaos Adolf Hitler seized power. The Reichstag (the precursor of the Bundestag) didn’t have much political power in that period.
The building was used to air propaganda movies. Hitler and his mustached friends ordered what was to be done.
After the Wende it regained the political power it lost. The German parliament returned to the premises. And stararchitect Norman Foster gave the restored building a new glass dome to let democracy rise out of it’s ashes again. If you twirl up the stairs you can literally look down on democracy. Members of parliament smoke cigarettes out of their offices, and as a visitor of the Bundestag you can see it all.
If you want to know more about how German democracy works nowadays, book a free tour, 24 hours in advance. https://visite.bundestag.de/BAPWeb/pages/createBookingRequest.jsf www.bundestag.de
Berlin has a lot of landmarks to sightsee. Think of Berlin, and you think of the Fernsehturm, the Brandenburger Tor and the Bundestag (former Reichstag). Here you can find the best known landmarks for a short visit to Berlin. If you have more time to check out vibrant Berlin, don’t miss out Prenzlauer Berg, Friedrichshain , other spots in Mitte, or alternative Berlin.
Read here where you can find the best cultural spots, where the best Berlin bars and restaurants are, the best Berlin shops and where you can still find the remains and best stories of the Berlin Wall.
The Brandenburger Tor became the symbol of reunited Germany and Berlin after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Between 1961-1989 the Berlin Wall surrounded the Brandenburger Tor. East Berlin was on one side, on the other end West Berlin. It was quite a tragic turn in history, because the Brandenburger Tor had been the representation of triumph.
The Fernsehturm is one of the most remarkable landmarks of Berlin. The tallest building of Berlin was the pride and joy of the East German government when it was erected in 1969. You can easily understand why. The cone with the large shining discoball is hard to miss and when you are in the top of the Fernsehturm you will have the greatest view on Berlin.
Potsdamer Platz was the place to be before World War Two. The square was one of the main traffic hotspots of Europe. But during World War Two it was bombed to pieces and ended up in noman’s land. The Berlin Wall ran straight through this area. When the Berlin Wall fell, this area became Berlin’s pride and joy with the architecture of the Sony Center and Deutsche Bahn.