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The Bundestag is the stage where democracy failed poorly and rose out of its 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.

reichstag berlin

The Bundestag/Reichstag

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. After Germany was defeated during the First World War he 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.

Bloody Berlin

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.

glas reichstagDemocracy returns at the Bundestag

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 its 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




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