Nazi Berlin: Kammergericht
It was one of the places, people did not want to end up in when the nazis ruled Germany. In this building the Volksgerichtshof (People’s court) of the nazis held the show trial against the plotters who had tried to kill Adolf Hitler on July 20 1944. This plot was also known as operation Valkyrie (Walkure). The Volksgerichtshof was headed by one of the most hated nazis that ever lived: Roland Freisler, who humiliated the suspects before he convicted them to be executed.
Horrific nazi court Kammergericht
The Kammergericht is a stately, beautiful building with a peaceful looking park in front of it, that is now mostly being used as a picnic spot, by joggers and Berliners walking their dogs. In 2013 it celebrated its 100 year old birthday in Berlin Schoneberg. However it is not being remembered because of its beautiful architecture, but because it was a horrific nazi court.
Already in 1934, a year after Hitler came to power, the Volksgerichtshof was invented. Hitler was furious that three suspects on trial for the Reichstag fire were not convicted. Therefore he decided to create a new court: Volksgerichtshof, the people’s court. It especially focused on treason against nazi Germany. The suspects did not have many rights, were treated very badly and many were sentenced to death. Most trials took place in an enormous building called Preussische Landtag (Niederkirchnerstrasse 5) in Berlin. Later on part of it was also used by the ministry of aviation in Berlin and the Volksgericht moved to a new location near Potsdamer Platz.
But the most talked about nazi trial took place at the Kammergericht in Berlin Schoneberg against the plotters of operation Valkyrie (Walkure). This was the famous attempt on the life of Adolf Hitler (also made into a movie starring Tom Cruise). Lieutenant Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg was one of its masterminds. The group that wanted to kill their Fuhrer had been nazis for a long time. However they were appalled by the crimes of the nazis, and in particular the SS. They also believed that Hitler was going to ruin Germany. Therefore he must be assassinated, they reasoned.
Valkyrie trial at Kammergericht
On July 20 1944 Von Stauffenberg had a military meeting with Hitler and other nazis outside of Berlin. He took a suitcase containing a bomb with him. During the meeting Von Stauffenberg received a phone call and left the room, so the bomb could go off and would not kill him. However it would not kill Hitler either. Probably because someone moved the suitcase behind the leg of a conference table that blocked the explosion. When the bomb went off it blew away the conference room, five people died. Von Stauffenberg thought his plan had worked. A couple of hours later he arrived in Berlin, still believing Hitler was dead. Two hours later it was made clear that Hitler was still alive. Just after midnight Von Stauffenberg was executed.
Humiliating suspects at Kammergericht
But that was not all. Von Stauffenberg had not acted alone. An astonishingly amount of 7000 people were arrested by the Gestapo after Valkyrie. Almost 5000 of them were executed, according to nazi documents. The trials against the conspirators were held at the Kammergericht. They were led by the president of the Volksgerichtshof Roland Freisler, who had already joined the nazis in 1925. Freisler was a horrific judge, sentencing many people to death (90% of the sentences resulted in the death penalty or life imprisonment). He was also known for humiliating suspects and shouting at them. This made him one of the most hated nazis. The show trial of the Valkyrie suspects were filmed and shows Feisler shouting. He was also the judge who sentenced the well-known German resistance members Hans and Sophie Scholl to death.
Freisler died before the war was over on February 3 1945, in or near Bellevuestrasse 15 in Berlin where the Volksgerichtshof was located. It is not entirely clear how he died. Some report a beam crushed him after the building was bombed. It is also documented that he was killed on his way to an air-raid bomb shelter.
After the Second World War the Allied Control Coucil housed in the Kammergericht, where the USA, Soviet Union, United Kingdom and France held talks on how to cooperate in East and West Berlin. In 1997 the Kammergericht again became a court in Berlin.
More Nazi Berlin on Place to be:
The Rosenstrasse near Alexanderplatz looks like an ordinary Berlin street. During the Second World War one of the biggest nonviolent protests against the nazis was held here.After the nazis lost the important battle of Stalingrad in 1943, they arrested almost 2000 Jews. Of course the nazi’s had been arresting and deporting Jews for years at that time. However the Jews they arrested were so-called ‘privileged Jews’…
In Berlin, at former airport Tempelhof, was a concentration camp. To be exact: Berlin’s forgotten concentration camp Columbia-Haus. Everybody knows about how the Allied Forces organizes an airlift to fly and drop supplies to the people of West Berlin via Tempelhof. But very few people know Berlin’s one and only concentration camp was at Tempelhof too.
Today the enormous building is used as the ministry of finances. It was also one of the landmarks of Nazi Berlin when it was build. After he came to power in 1933 Adolf Hitler prepared Germany for a new war and aviation was going to play a crucial part in the Second World War. Interestingly Erhard Milch, who had a Jewish father, played an important role at the ministry.
Nowadays the Lustgarten (pleasure garden) 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.
It was build by the Nazi’s especially for the Olympic Games of 1936. It turned into a battle field during the battle of Berlin when the Hitler Jugend fought against the Russians. Also read about the curious history of the architect, who was a loyal member of the Nazi party (NSDAP).
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.
The tower is not only remarkable because of it’s size, but also because of it’s sinister history. Dicke Hermann was built in 1856 to provide the inhabitants with water. In 1933 it became a very sinister location. Local Nazi’s used the former engine room to torture people. 28 people died in the cellars of the building. Today, there is a kita, a children day care center.
At first sight Mohrenstrasse may look like an ordinary street in Mitte Berlin near the Potsdamer Platz. But its history is far from ordinary. Even its name has changed a number of times. And so has its appearance. The darkest days of the Mohrenstrasse were during the battle of Berlin in 1945. It was heavily hit on the third of February 1945 by the allied forces.