Today, Berlin is one of the best cities in Europe to live in. Its contemporary and liberal lifestyle, it’s cool culture and its young and thriving population make the German capital into one of the most attractive European capitals. However, if we go back 67 years ago, Berlin was in complete and total ruins. During the Allied bombings in 1943 and 1944 and the Battle of Berlin in 1945, many of the buildings and streets of the city were destroyed, leaving Berlin in a state of decay, similar to a city that’s just experienced an earthquake which has destroyed everything. The city was rebuilt but some scars of that time remain, scars that can be seen during your stay in Berlin apartments.
Possibly one of the biggest and most important symbols in Berlin is the Reichstag, the home of the German Parliament. Today we see it as a beautiful neoclassic style building but if in 1945 it was just a a pile of rubble in the vague shape of what it is today. This building was taken by the Soviets during the Battle of Berlin because it was a symbol of the city and although it’s all restored today, they preserved some of the Soviet graffiti that were made when it was taken over, on some walls and on the roof, a small but incredibly valuable detail that some overlook in favour of the huge modern glass dome erected on the top of the building.
Another big building that still bears the scars of WW2 is the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. The church was built in the 1890s but was irreparably destroyed during an air raid in 1943. Today, the church is still visibly in ruins but can be visited inside and its memorial is definitely worth a visit. One of the British pilots who bombed Germany during that time read about the church and contacted the its directors in order to raise funds for a new tower to be rebuilt. This is one of Berlin’s most important wartime symbols.
Many Jews were deported from Berlin to the concentration camp of Theresienstadt, in what was then Czechoslovakia, today in Czech territory. The Jews made the journey by train from Anhalter Bahnhof, one of the three busiest train stations in Berlin during the War. The train station was bombed in an air raid in 1943 and it caused so much damage that it could no longer operate long distance services. Small local services resumed from the station after the war but it was closed for good in 1952. The building was demolished in 1960 due to its derelict state but a part of the façade still remains, visibly destroyed and a reminder of the journey to death that started there for over 55, 000 people.
The Flakturms were the fortress towers that protected Berlin from the air raids and ground attacks. There were a few scattered around the city and only a few ruins remain of them. We can find the walls of Flakturm 3 in Humboldthain Park since this one was only partially destroyed during the war.
Today, the German capital is a modern and vibrant city. However, it still has the scars from its dark past that are visible to all those who visit the city while renting apartments in Berlin, a reminder that what happened before, must never happen again.