Rosa Luxemburg Platz: a square with a bloody story
Rosa Luxemburg Platz has a very bloody history. In the twenties of the last century the communist party had their headquarters at the square of Rosa Luxemburg Platz. They often fought with the Nazis in this area. Police officers kept a keen eye on both sides, which were the key ingredients for a major row.
The communist party truly hated the policemen around Rosa Luxemburg Platz and decided a few should be killed. Teenager Erich Mielke, later in life the minister for ‘Staatssicherheit’ (State Security), was ready to do his dirty part. Together with a communist friend he shot police captain Paul Anlauf, nickname ‘Schweinebacke’ and Franz Lenck, in front of the entrance of the Babylon cinema. Right after the assassination he fled to Russia.
When the Nazi’s and Hitler came into power in Berlin in 1933, the square got a different name. The Nazi’s came up with Horst Wessel Platz, after their martyr Horst Wessel. He was a Nazi party activist and SA Sturmfuhrer(assault leader of the paramilitary Nazi organization) in Friedrichshain. He lived at the Karl Marx Allee with his hooker girlfriend and was shot in the face in 1930 by a local communist and died in a nearby hospital. Many Nazi’s came to his funeral. But Horst Wessel probably became a bigger hero after his violent death. He was commemorated in books and films where they glorified his life. When the Nazi’s came into power in 1933, they sang the Horst Wessel song at his grave. Wessel wrote the lyrics of this song and his Fahne Hoch (Flags high) soon became their national anthem. To honor his memory, the Nazi’s renamed the square, after him. Even Friedrichshain got his name. But not everybody was impressed with Horst Wessel. After the funeral communists wrote ‘ A final Heil Hitler to the Pimp Horst Wessel’ on the graveyard wall.
After the war the grave of Horst Wessel was in East Berlin territory, which meant it the glorification days were definitely over. His memorial and remains were destroyed and Horst Wessel Platz got a new name: Rosa Luxemburg Platz. Mielke returned from Russia and he became the new minister of State Security.
After the Wende Mielke was prosecuted for killing Anlauf and Lenck. He got sentenced to six years in prison, but was released sooner due to a bad health.
Today, Rosa Luxemburg Platz is not as bloody anymore. Around the square you can find a lot of nice shops and restaurants. You can buy expensive designer hats, glamorous clothes and tickle your tastebuds at the various restaurants around Rosa Luxemburg Platz. The fighting days are over and killer instincts died. Villains with guns don’t roam this area and the nearby Scheunenviertel anymore. The only blood that flows near Rosa Luxemburg Platz is on the stage of the Volksbuhne. So if you long for a bit of well acted violence, rage and madness you should check out the famous and very good theater on this square. The actors of the Volksbuhne know how to hit each other in their excellent plays.
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The Scheunenviertel is gallery heaven. After the fall of the Berlin Wall many artists moved to this area and that is still visible. Kunsthaus Tacheles was one of the most famous galleries of the area. The Scheunenviertel still has a lot of galleries. Many art galleries can be found in the August Strasse, Oranienburgerstrasse and Rosenthaler Strasse.
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Unter den Linden was build to make visitors look in awe at the buildings. It was set up to show that Berlin was no longer a village, but a big city. The street was filled with landmarks by the Berlin royalty. If you walk along Unter den Linden you will stare at the Schlossplatz, Altes Palais, the Princessinenpalais and Kronprinzenpalais.
A cemetery where the Berlin Wall ran through and battles of life and death took place. The Invalidenfriedhof in Berlin is a beautiful 18th century graveyard with graves of marshals and officers. Invalidenfriedhof seems to be peaceful and quiet, but that changed in 1961 when the Berlin Wall was erected right at this graveyard.
Alexanderplatz, or Alex as it is called by Berliners, is one of the most popular squares. This has a lot to do with the weird shiny marble on a large stick, better known as the famous landmark, the Fernsehturm. But not all. Alexanderplatz is also popular among Berliners, just for the square. During the golden twenties Alex was the place to be.
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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.
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