Kriegsende!

8 May 1945


[Berliner kids playing around an abandoned German Panther Ausf.G ‘bodenständig’ (a dug in tank to defend a strong point in the city) at Weddingplatz on Mullerstraße after the battle, May 1945.]

[Photo by Fred Ramage. Getty images.]

Berlin: 8-9 May 1945: 75 years ago, Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Tedder, Deputy Supreme Allied Commander and Gen Carl Spaatz Commanding United States Strategic Air Forces, arrived at Berlin-Tempelhof aboard an RAF C-47 on behalf General Eisenhower to ratificate the German
unconditional surrender signed the day before at Reims. The act took place at the Soviet headquarters in the city at Karlshorst, now the Deutsch-Russisches Museum Berlin-Karlshorst, where World War II came to an end in Europe now in presence of the Soviet commander Marshal Georgy Zhukov. The German delegation, composed by Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel, General-Admiral Hans-Georg von Friedebur (Kriegsmarine) and Colonel-General Hans-Jürgen Stumpf (Luftwaffe) signed the capitulation at 1.00 hrs 9 May.


It is quite significant that the highest rank of the Western Allies´air power -Tedder and Spaatz- the men who lead the Strategic bombing campaign, were the ones chosen to represent Eisenhower and the winners on this act which marks the end of the Third Reich.

[Generalfeldmarschall Wilhelm Keitel, Commander in Chief of the Wehrmacht, signed the declaration in Karlshorst. The war is over.]

[Photo: DPA.]

[Karlshorst, 9 May 1945. The ratified unconditional German surrender terms being signed by Air
Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Tedder RAF at Soviet Headquarters in Berlin.]

[Photo: © raf-pathfinders.com.]

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The last visit by a Mosquito

[Photo: © raf-pathfinders.com.]

[An unidentified air- and groundcrew of RAF No 627 Squadron posing for the camera in front of a Mosquito wooden bomber in Britain. Note the mission bomb log painted on the nose of the aircraft.]

This week marks the 75th anniversary of the last strategic air raid on Berlin during the Second World War. For more than 70 years the ‘honour’ of which RAF Bomber Command aircrew dropped the last bombs on Berlin was bestowed to a No 109 Squadron crew. But it was in 2017 that Richard Stowers found evidence during his research that actually there was another Mosquito crew which dropped their deadly load later on that night.

The last Allied air raid on Berlin took place on the night of 20/21 April 1945. Bomber Command sent 76 de Havilland Mosquito bombers in six separate attacks to disrupt the German capital, a few hours before Stalin’s armies reached the eastern suburbs of the sieged city.

[A trio of Bomber Command No 128 Squadron Mosquitoes B XVIs, equipped with gas drop tanks on the wings, taxiing ready to take-off at the start of another night sortie to bomb the ‘Big City’ in 1945.]

[Photo: Bowman, Martin. (1997) Osprey Publishing.]

The long-credited pair, F/O Arthur C Austin (pilot) and P Moorhead (navigator) were flying Mosquito XVI MM929, one of eight bombers dispatched on that night by the squadron for the ‘Big City’. They took off from RAF Little Staughton and flew to Berlin where they dropped four 500-lb bombs at 02.16 hrs (GTM), landing back at 04.30 hrs safely. “Bombed target from 28,000’ by A.R.5513 at 0214 – Cloud 10/10 St. – Defences nil.” we can read on the Operations Record Book of the squadron (National Archives, AIR 27/856/8.)

A few miles away, eight No 105 Squadron -a Pathfinder unit- Mosquitoes prepares to take off for Berlin too from Bourn near Cambridge. One crew was composed by Flt Lt David W. Young of New Zealand, and his navigator P/O Malcolm B. Skinner (an Australian) when a malfunctioning engine on their aircraft when taxiing forced them to change their kite for the sortie for a spare bomber already bombed up. Finally they were airborne twenty minutes late at 00.35 hrs on Mosquito XVI PF407 “A”, 22 minutes after the last 109 Sqn Mosquito. They reached Berlin alone in the dark, dropping four 500-pounders after an ‘Oboe’ signal with Alexanderplatz as aiming point. The RAF crew landed back at 04.44. Both men´s logbooks and the entry on the squadron´s ORB only registered “Primary attacked” and the depart /landing times (National Archives, AIR 27/828/8) but Stowers found a signed certificate issued by the Intelligence Officer of 105 Sqn dated June 4, 1945 in which is detailed based on the ‘Oboe’ release signal on target that they salvoed their explosive cargo 12 minutes later than Austin and Moorhead, precisely at 02.26.2 hrs on 21 April 1945.

[The ORB of No 109 Squadron recording the RAF´s unit combat sorties during April 1945. In this case, the page showing operations on April 20th on the Nazi capital. Young and Moorhead´s sortie is the last one listed on 20-4-45 here, the second one from below.]

[Photo: © Crown Copyright.]

‘Mac’ Skinner later stated: “Flying Officer Arthur Austin, 109 Squadron, was reported in The Daily Mirror on 10 October 1945 to have dropped the last bomb at about 2.15am. He was probably briefed to be the last one but as we had to change aircraft because of engine trouble, and then encountered a cold front causing delay, we evidently usurped position by at least 10 minutes.”

[A fine portrait of the 105 (PFF) Sqn airmen: P/O David Young (left) and P/O ‘Mac’ Skinner.]

[Photo: Flypast. September 2017. ISSN 0262-6950.]

[A view of Skinner´s logbook showing the last Berlin raid entry.]

[Photo: © Richard Stowes.]

[And the RAF Bourn certificate dated June 4, 1945 and signed by the Intelligence Officer of the station which claimed the last bombing ‘honour’ as a 105 Sqn achievement. Notice the aiming point: Alexandre Platz (sic), Centre of Berlin.]

[Photo: © Richard Stowes.]

Sadly for its habitants, Berlin was a regular destination for the fast twin-engined bombers, main stars of the Royal Air Force’s LNSF (Light Night Striking Force), especially during the final months of the war. During January-May 1945 LNSF Mosquitoes flew almost 4,000 sorties over the Reich with the loss of just 57 aircraft.

Thus ended the British air campaign over the German capital -stopped to not interceding on the Soviet final assault- an enterprise started five years early on a very different dark summer night, but that’s another story.

[RAF Mosquitoes were very active during the final weeks, making clear to the Führer that he has no escape from the sieged capital. Here, Adolf Hitler and Julius Schaub examine the huge damage done by Allied bombs on the Reich Chancellery in Berlin on 20 April 1945, a nearly miss on the Führer’s bunker.]

[Photo: picture-alliance / akg-images.]


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Sources and Bibliography:

  • Bodle, Peter. (2007). Mosquito to Berlin: Story of ‘Bertie’ Boulter DFC, One of Bennett’s Pathfinders. Pen & Sword Aviation.
  • Bowman, Martin. (1997). Mosquito Bomber/Fighter-Bomber Units 1942-45. Combat Aircraft 4. Osprey Publishing.
  • Bowman, Martin. (2009). Achtung! Moskito!: RAF and USAAF Mosquito Fighters, Fighter-Bombers, and Bombers over the Third Reich, 1941-1945. Schiffer Publishing Ltd.
  • Bowman, Martin. (2015). Voices in flight: The Heavy Bomber Offensive of WWII. Pen & Sword Aviation.
  • Friedrich, Jörg. (2002). Der Brand: Deutschland im Bombenkrieg 1940-1945. Propylaen Verlag, Zweigniederlassung der Ullstein.
  • Middlebrook, Martin and Everett, Chris. (1985). The Bomber Command War Diaries: An Operational Reference Book. Pen & Sword Aviation. Reprint Edition 2014.
  • RAF Pathfinders Archive. Description available at <https://raf-pathfinders.com>
  • Stowers, Richard. So who was the last? Flypast. September 2017. ISSN 0262-6950. 
  • Stowers, Richard. Who dropped the last bombs on Berlin? NZ Bomber Command Association News. June 2017. Available at <http://www.wednesdaybomberboys.co.nz/newsletter/NZBC%20Newsletter%20June%202017.pdf>
  • The National Archives (TNA). AIR 27/828/8.
  • The National Archives (TNA). AIR 27/856.

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    STEGLITZ • The Titania-Palast

    Located at Gutsmuthsstraße 27/28 Ecke Schloßstraße 4/5, the Titania-Palast is a cinema-theatre and concerts hall built in the south-western Berlin suburb of Steglitz during the 1920s decade. It was one of the icons of this area, a place of reference to culture life in the German capital.

    The Titania-Palast cinema-theatre was built in as a luxury 2,000 seater building designed by architects Ernst Schöffler, Carlo Schloenbach & Carl Jacobi in 1927 in the style of “Neuen Sachlichkeit” or New Objectivity Social realism. The big building was criticized by many contemporary observers and architecture experts due to its deliberately asymmetrical arrangement and entire facade parts are dummies without function. It had an organ, full stage facilities and a cafe room.

    [A view of the new brand Titania-Palast theatre in 1928.]

    [Photo by Max Missmann. Stadtmuseum (V 68/1977 V).]

    [Photos taken in 1928: friedenau-aktuell.de / Berlin-cabaret.]

    [Photos taken in 1928: friedenau-aktuell.de / Berlin-cabaret.]

    This hige cinema was opened in January 1928 with a big party and the gala premiere of the silent film ‘Der Sprung ins Glück’ (“Jump into Happiness”), starring Italian actress Carmen Boni, Berliner star Hans Junkermann and cabaret stalwart Rosa Valetti.

    [A poster announcing the gala premiere of the silent film ‘Der Sprung ins Glück’ at the Titania and a 1929 programm of the theatre.]

    [Photos: Cabaret-Berlin / AKG-images (AKG60967).]

    The first films were accompanied by an orchestra of 60 musicians, and a program of cabaret and vaudeville. Within 18 months of the cinema’s opening, the first ‘talkies’ (movies with sound) were being screened and the crowds flocked in for the next years. The first sound film was Al Jolson in “The Singing Fool” which opened on 29 October 1929.

    In 1933, the Titania-Palace was taken over by the Nazis like many other Berlin culture places and sold to Ton-Lichtbild-Reklame AG, which in turn passes on half to Hugo Lemke. One year later, in 1934, the theatre along with a number of other cinemas, was expropriated in favor of the UFA led by Nazi authorities, becoming the flagship of the company and Dr Goebbels’ Reichsministerium für Volksaufklärung und Propaganda (“Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda”).

    [The front facade of the theatre in December 1935, under the management of the Nazi authorities.]

    [Photo: Landesarchiv Baden-Württemberg, Abt. Staatsarchiv Freiburg, W 134 Nr. 009918.]

    During the British big air-raid on 1 March 1943 the Titania was slighty damaged when RAF bombs hit the nearby buildings at Schloßstraße. Having surviving nearly intact to the air-bombings and the Soviet assault on the city, this cinema as all the south-western suburb of Steglitz came under control of the US occupation forces from 4 July 1945. During three years, American forces seized the theatre, but allowed selected events to use it.

    Since the Philharmonic at Bernburger Straße had been destroyed during bombing raids in January 1944, the modern building of Steglitz provided a welcome alternative and for a long time became the permanent home of the Berliner Philharmoniker, until 1954-55. On May 26, 1945, the Berliner Philharmoniker were able to give their first concert at the Titania after the end of the war. The former chief conductor during the Third Reich years, Wilhelm Furtwängler, was under investigation by US authorities until December 1946 and only officially resumed his duties from 1952.

    In 1951 the Americans return the building to its ‘original’ owner Hugo Lemke.

    [July 1945: two views of the Titania during the early days of the US occupation of the city. Notice an U.S. Army Willys jeep at far left on the first image and the big American star and stripes flags decoration on the “American theatre”.]

    [Photo: Foto eines Angehörigen der US-Army, 1945. Wikimedia.]

    [Photo: Getty images.]

    [Here we see Berliners queuing to buy a ticket to the first concert at the Titania with Furtwängler, May 1947.]

    [Photo: Wilhelm Furtwängler. Berliner Philarmoniker / Audite Musik Produktion.]

    [Berlin summer 1945, view from the Titania-Palast entrance into the Schloßstraße Ecke Gutsmuthsstraße with the photographer facing north to Friedenau district. Notice American military members (men and women) at centre and severe bomb-damage on the facade and roof of the buildings across the road.]

    [Photo: Original private photo of a US Army soldier (gelatin silver print on AGFA-Lupex baryta paper).]

    [A view of the concert hall during an orchestra performance, May 1947.]

    [Photo: furtwangler.fr]

    [The Titania´s Theaterkass months after the war. Original caption says “1927” but the ‘Tagesspiegel’ sign allow us to date this image from 1945 onwards.]

    [Photo by Fritz Eschen. Deutsche Fotothek.]

    From June 1951 West Berlin opened the Berlinale (International Film Festival in Berlin - Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin) under the direction of Dr Alfred Bauer and took place in the Titania. It was a cultural-political initiative by American Film Officer Oscar Martay of the American occupation military government to serve as a “showcase of the free world” in the divided city. The opening film was Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rebecca” with American actress Joan Fontaine. In 1953 this cinema was equipped with CinemaScope.

    [Berlin 1955, view of the Titania-Palast main entrance adorned to present ‘Es geschah am 20. Juli’, a German film directed by Austrian director Georg Wilhelm Pabst. The movie is about the plot to kill Hitler on July 20, 1944, such an ironic event after the “Nazi” past of lived by this cinema. The film was premiered on 19 June 1955 and two days later at the Berlin International Film Festival.]

    [Photo: AKG-images (AKG155166).]

    This night image taken in 1956 shows the night city and captured all the darkness splendor of the Titania-Palast cinema-theatre and Schloßstraße. The original exterior lighting of the building was designed by engineer Ernst Hölsche. As we can see, the state-of-the-art theatre has a striking 30-meters height tower surrounded by 27 light rings with a 7-meter flagpole. 

    [Photo by Fritz Eschen / Getty images.]

    [1960 Schloßstraße Ecke Gutsmuthsstraße: Kalanag und Gloria at the Titania-Palast theatre. Kalanag, Helmut Ewald Schreiber, was a film producer and a German magician.]

    [Photo: flickr.com/photos/e-ole3.]

    [View of Walther-Schreiber-Platz and Schloßstraße in 1960 in south-west direction with Titania-Palast at centre of the picture. Note Rathaus Steglitz building in the background.]

    [Photo: AKG-images (AKG55503).]

    [A view of the cinema hall of the Titania-Palast taken in 1964.]

    [Photo by Harry Croner. Gettuy images.]

    Among the famous stars who performed at the Titania-Palast in Berlin Steglitz in the postwar period was Berliner actress Marlene Dietrich (December 1901 Berlin-Schöneberg – May 1992).
    She visited the city as a prelude to her Germany tour performing live in large theatres and this performance at Berlin on 3 May 1960 was the first public appearance of the star in Germany after the Second World War. The tour was an artistic triumph, but a financial failure. Photographer Harry Croner (1902-1992) documented Dietrich’s visit to Berlin from her arrival at Tegel airport. Marlene’s performance at the theatre in 1960 drew adulation and glamour and she received a standing ovation during the performance but a concentration of protesters too, opposed to the famous actress and her tour of Germany, which they considered a “traitor” after leaving the country 30 years before. At least one hundred police had to protect the arrival and departure of Dietrich at the Titania and finally she had to hide from the crowd in the car (see last picture). “The Germans and I no longer speak the same language” says the cabaret actress after the incident; she would never return to the city.

    [Photo by Harry Croner © Stadtmuseum Berlin SM 2013-3847.]

    [Photo: Getty images.]

    [Photo by Harry Croner © Stadtmuseum Berlin SM 2013-3844.]

    [Photo: Harry Croner © Stadtmuseum Berlin.]

    The last film at the Titania was screened in December 1965, and the building was prevented from demolition by the Berliner Städtische Elektrizitätswerke Aktien-Gesellschaft Bewag, Berlin´s energy supplier, which leased the theatre. Some parts of the building were used as a rehearsal stage during thirty years. By the early 1990′s after the Wall fell and the reunified city, work had begun to restore the theatre and divide the vast auditorium into smaller, more manageable spaces. On May 1995, after nearly three decades retired, the first films were shown in the new cinemas inside this building. A truly part of the history of Berlin Steglitz, hopefully never down the curtain again.


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    Sources and Bibliography:

  • Aengeneyndt, Jan-Derk. Südwest-Berlin als Kriegsgebiet. Die Bezirke Zehlendorf und Steglitz von Januar bis Juni 1945. 2003.
  • Feustel Jan, Köhler Hörst. Lebensader durch Sumpf und Sand, 100 Jahre Teltowkanal. 1. Auflage. Hendrik Bäßler Verlag. 2006.
  • Friese, Wolfgang. Lankwitz und seine Geschichte. Teil 5: Kloster und Luftangriff. Gabriele Schuster Eigen. 2013.
  • Grünewald, Rolf. Der Titania-Palast – Berliner Kino- und Kulturgeschichte. Edition Hentrich. 1992.
  • Hopfe, Christian. Berlin-Steglitz. Die Reihe Archivbilder. Sutton Archivbilder. 2017.
  • Kunstamt Steglitz (Hrsg.). Alles neu: 50 Jahre Kriegsende in Steglitz. Berlin 1995.
  • Marlene Dietrich Collection Berlin. The Deutsche Kinemathek – Museum für Film und Fernsehen.
    [https://www.deutsche-kinemathek.de/en/collections-archives/digital-collection/marlene-dietrich-collection-berlin]
  • Moorhouse, Roger. Berlin at war. Life and death in Hitler’s capital, 1939-45. Vintage Books. 2011.
  • Simon, Christian. Steglitz im Wandel der Geschichte: vom grössten Dorf Preussens. be.bra-Verlag. 1997.
  • Stadtmuseum. Marlene unterm Pelzmantel. [https://www.stadtmuseum.de/aktuelles/marlene-unterm-pelzmantel]
  • Steglitz-Museum Archiv. Heimatverein Steglitz e.V. Berlin. [http://steglitz-museum.de/archiv]
  • Stivers, William and Carter Donald A. The city becomes a symbol: the U.S. Army in the occupation of Berlin, 1945-1949. Center of Military History United States Army. Washington, D.C. 2017.
  • Wildt, Michael and Kreutzmueller, Christoph. Berlin 1933-1945 - Stadt und Gesellschaft im Nationalsozialismus. Siedler Verlag. 2013.
  • Zimmer, Dieter E. Bombenkrieg. Aus Dieter und Jürgen Zimmer: Zur Familiengeschichte. Unpublished manuscript. 2005. [http://www.d-e-zimmer.de/PDF/bombenkrieg2005.pdf]
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    Berlin unter Bomben • STEGLITZ (III)

    After the end of the Second World War and with the Iron Curtain already instaured, and the subsequent division of the city into four sectors, Berlin Steglitz continued its reconstruction work as an essential part of the US occupation zone. But that effort and money went principally to the main artery of the suburb’s life, Schloßstraße and its surrounding area. With streets cleared of rubble stores, grocerys, markets and cinemas reopened and a new commercial life sponsored by the American giant glow on the great avenue that crosses that district from north to south with the red Rathaus building as an a iconic.

    In the aerial view of the reconstructed Steglitzer Schloßstraße in the 1950s seen above, it seems like war has ever happened, with clear streets, the majestic Rathaus and the new Volkswagen-pavilion (built in 1951) at left. Notice at right that there is no Hermann-Ehlers-Platz yet.

    [A scene in a street market at Steglitz after the war.]

    [Photo: Dieter E. Zimmer. ZEIT-Archiv.]

    In this silent film footage taken at Steglitz after the end of the war we can see the Rathaus Steglitz from Albrechtstraße with trams and buses running again and finally the street market next to Hermann-Ehlers-Platz, with several scenes showing Berliners’ new life at Schloßstraße. Notice the Albrechtshof-Lichtspiele cinema at Albrechtstraße (01:47) and the Titania-Palast theatre views’ (02:05).

    [Video credit: US Holocaust Memorial Museum. Theodor Röckle Collection. ID:3917.]


    Much of that American economic support was managed by the High Commission for Occupied Germany - Alliierte Hohe Kommission (AHK). Established in 1948, the US HICOG was created by the victorious Western Allies to supervise and regulate the politic, economic and social directives of the new born West Germany. For example, in 1951 a program of US HICOG was carried out with 8 1/2 million Deutsche marks to deliver food between the population.

    [Here we see food distribution in the hall of a Steglitzer Grundschule (a primary school) in November 1950 at Berlin Steglitz.]

    [Photo: AKG-images (AKG26885).]

    However, in the adjacent streets there were still images of destruction until well into the 50s with rubble and ruins, remains of the Bombenkrieg past. 

    [Two scenes of ruined buildings in Steglitz, probably Markelstraße in 1952.]

    [Photo: Dieter E. Zimmer. ZEIT-Archiv.]

    [Photo: Dieter E. Zimmer. ZEIT-Archiv.]

    [Trümmerfrauen working in Steglitz in an image taken probably in 1952.]

    [Photo: Dieter E. Zimmer. ZEIT-Archiv.]

    One of the highlights of Steglitz district throughout its Berlin history has been transportation, as we saw in previous posts the world’s first electrified tram line ran through there in 1881. As the rest of the Western zone, it had to restart and rebuild the entire transport and communications network after the war, a very hazardous enterprise not only difficult due to the economic precariousness but also due to the recent tension and division of the capital by the victors.

    The Berliner Verkehrs-Gesellschaft (from 1938 known as BVG or Bezeichnung Berliner Verkehrs-Betriebe) was responsible of all tram and omnibus systems, the last was part of the bus network so it carries identical characteristic yellow colour too.

    [Taken in 20 August 1948 by Fritz Eschen, this photo captures the first tram running between the districts of Steglitz and Wilmersdorf in Berlin after the war. Note the anti-fascist banner decorating the wagon and the flags of the Four Victorious powers (and the city’s bear flag) on the front.]

    [Photo by Fritz Eschen/Getty Images.]

    [The Siemensbrücke across the Teltowkanal at Siemensstraße in Steglitz was inoperable after been hit by a bomb during July 1944. Until establishment of an electrified alternative route over the Hannemannbrücke / Stindestraße, the BVG´s Oberleitungsbus (Obus) had to be towed by a tower wagon as seen in this image. The air-raids suffered by Berlin on July 1944 were made by RAF Mosquitoes night-intruders, with Bomber Command sending around 25-30 Mosquito bombing aircraft per mission to harass Berliners morale. On April 11, 1945 the BVG closed the A32 line.]

    [Photo: BVG-Firmenarchiv.]

    [1963: a Steglitz district trolley-bus at Schloßstraße Ecke Albrechtstraße. The Oberleitungsbus, Obus or O-Bus system in Berlin city began in 1882 (world’s first) with Oberleitungsbus Steglitz running from 1933. This was the fourth on the current urban area of Berlin existing trolley-bus system and the first modern of its kind in the city. Reopened in 1949, the A32 on trolley-bus lasted until 22 March 1965 with the shutdown of all the trolley-bus operations on West Berlin as a result of the rebuilt of the western tangent. In the background can be seen the Rathaus Friedenau tower.]

    [Photo by Werner Grohmann. Pastvu.]

    [A pre-war colour picture taken in 1937 of that same Steglitz trolley-bus from Linie A32 driving around Schloßstraße Ecke Albrechtstraße to the northwest. Note the red “Adler am Rathaus Steglitz” lettering.]

    [Photo: von Scharni. Pastvu.]

    Next, as a conclusion about the history of this Berlin city district during the air-bombings, war period and subsequent years, we share several scenes of the post-war years. Life goes on at Steglitz and after reconstruction Berliners go about their business, and we hope that never again it be known as ‘steht nichts’ - nothing is standing.

    [At the corner Albrechtstraße with the old brick building of the Rathaus Steglitz, seen in 1950.]

    [Photo: Steglitz-Museum Archiv.]

    [Street scene taken by photographer Ernst Hahn of postwar West-Berlin at the Schloßstraße, near Albrechtstraße in 1947, today here stands the Steglitzer Kreisel tower. Note the Bären Stiefel bear-shaped advertisement on top of the nearest car, a Standard Vanguard Estate produced by the Standard Motor Company England, from 1947 to 1963.]

    [Photo by Ernst Hahn. Archiv Hahn/Getty images.]

    [1947: West-Berlin women waiting at a bus stop at Schloßstraße 89. Notice the Berliner Kindl Bräu located there in the background.]

    [Photo by Ernst Hahn. Archiv Hahn/Weissberg/Getty images.]

    [Photo by Ernst Hahn. Archiv Hahn/Weissberg/Getty images.]

    [Berliners, American GIs and ruined buildings in this photo of a bus stop taken at Steglitz, located at Schloßstraße Ecke Kaiserallee.]

    [Photo: Dieter E. Zimmer. ZEIT-Archiv.]

    [Peaceful view from 1953 of Ecke Feuerbachstraße/Schloßstraße in Berlin Steglitz-Friedenau. In the foreground we can see a Kaufhaus Leineweber department store. Note the modernist Titania Palast cinema-theatre in the background at left.]

    [Photo: Getty images.]

    [A nice nightly colour view of the reconstructed Berlin Schloßstraße taken in December 1955. Leineweber GmbH & Co. KG is a clothing manufacturer based in Herford in East Westphalia, which emerged from a garment factory founded in 1888 by Berlin businessman Bernward Leineweber. It was one of the first manufacturers of men’s clothing, which he produced himself and sold in his shop at Oranienstraße in Berlin.]

    [Photo by Rolf Goetze. © Stadtmuseum Berlin SM 2014-2012,25.]

    [Christmas 1955, Schloßstraße, taken in the direction of Rathaus Steglitz, with Leiser store in the background. Leiser is a shoe retailer founded in 1891 in Berlin Oranienstraße. Owned by a Jew family, it was sold 75% to the Bahner family, owners of the Saxon stocking producer Elbeo, in order to avoid expropriation by the Nazis in 1935.]

    [Photo: Werner Grohmann.]

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    Sources and Bibliography:

  • Aengeneyndt, Jan-Derk. Südwest-Berlin als Kriegsgebiet. Die Bezirke Zehlendorf und Steglitz von Januar bis Juni 1945. 2003.
  • Berliner Verkehrsseiten. Nahverkehrsgeschichten aus Berlin [http://www.berliner-verkehrsseiten.de/]
  • Dost, S. Richard Brademann (1884-1965) Architekt der Berliner S-Bahn. Verlag Bernd Neddermeyer. 2002.
  • Feustel Jan, Köhler Hörst. Lebensader durch Sumpf und Sand, 100 Jahre Teltowkanal. 1. Auflage. Hendrik Bäßler Verlag. 2006.
  • Friese, Wolfgang. Lankwitz und seine Geschichte. Teil 5: Kloster und Luftangriff. Gabriele Schuster Eigen. 2013.
  • Hopfe, Christian. Berlin-Steglitz. Die Reihe Archivbilder. Sutton Archivbilder. 2017.
  • Kunstamt Steglitz (Hrsg.). Alles neu: 50 Jahre Kriegsende in Steglitz. Berlin 1995.
  • Major, Patrick. The Death of the KPD: Communism and Anti-Communism in West Germany, 1945-1956. OUP Oxford. 1998.
  • Moorhouse, Roger. Berlin at war. Life and death in Hitler’s capital, 1939-45. Vintage Books. 2011.
  • Roberts, Maxwell J. The Decade of Diagrams. Department of Psychology University of Essex. Colchester. 2019.
  • Simon, Christian. Steglitz im Wandel der Geschichte: vom grössten Dorf Preussens. be.bra-Verlag. 1997.
  • Steglitz-Museum Archiv. Heimatverein Steglitz e.V. Berlin. [http://steglitz-museum.de/archiv]
  • Stivers, William and Carter Donald A. The city becomes a symbol: the U.S. Army in the occupation of Berlin, 1945-1949. Center of Military History United States Army. Washington, D.C. 2017.
  • Wildt, Michael and Kreutzmueller, Christoph. Berlin 1933-1945 - Stadt und Gesellschaft im Nationalsozialismus. Siedler Verlag. 2013.
  • Zimmer, Dieter E. Bombenkrieg. Aus Dieter und Jürgen Zimmer: Zur Familiengeschichte. Unpublished manuscript. 2005. [http://www.d-e-zimmer.de/PDF/bombenkrieg2005.pdf]
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    Berlin unter Bomben • STEGLITZ (II)

    [Photo: Getty images.]

    In the aftermath of the war, Berliners began the long and arduous reconstruction task. From August 2, 1945, the suburb of Steglitz became part of the administrative US sector of the city, in the new division of Postwar Germany decided by the Western Allies and the Soviet Union during the Potsdam Conference celebrated days before (from 17 July to 2 August 1945). The Soviet troops retreat from the district on 4 July 1945, taking over control the newly arrived US forces led by the experienced 2nd Armored Division and their tanks.

    The photo shown above was taken in 1950 from the top of the Rathaus, looking northwards to Friesenau, and allow us to appreciate how effective was the reconstruction of the Steglitz district, without any doubt due to be located within the US occupation zone. But the reconstruction was caused not only by the economic aid of the American giant, but much effort and work for the surviving Berliners, who tried to return to normal after the disaster of the war.

    [Here, schoolgirls from the Augusta-Viktoria-Schule work as a chain gang to clear rubble from a bombed out part of their school on 24 September 1945.]

    [Photo by Fred Ramage/ Hulton Archive.]

    [Another image of German girls of the senior grades at the Augusta-Viktoria-Schule in Steglitz, working to clear away the rubble left after the war. West German population was invited to volunteer for this task, but contrary to the myth, women were a minority. One exception was West Berlin, where large numbers of women and girls (about 26,000) did clear debris from the destroyed city.]

    [Photo: Bettmann Archive/Getty.]

    [The Augusta-Viktoria-Schule was located at Rothenburgstraße 18. It was built in 1911/12 according to plans by Hans Heinrich Müller (1879-1951), Gemeindebaumeister (Building supervisor) of Berlin’s suburb Steglitz. He was responsable of all public buildings located there too. Müller served as a lieutenant at the Eastern front during the First World War.]

    [Photos: Lower hall and façade. Ateller Schneider / postkarte.]

    [This Then/Now image shows the Augusta-Viktoria-Schule as seen before the war and the destruction caused by bombings, and below in recent years.]

    [Photos: Stadtmuseum Berlin / Heribert Lange 2012.]

    Days after the end of the war, back from the exile in Moscow, the Communist Party (KPD) established this office in Berlin Steglitz suburb. This image of the main entrance of the office was taken before control of this district of the capital was handed over to US occupation forces.
    The Order No. 2 of the Soviet Military Administration in Germany (SMAD - Sowjetischen Militäradministration in Deutschland) of 10 June 1945 made it possible to found or re-establish German anti-fascist parties in the new Berlin. The slogan shown refers to a call made by the KPD to the German people to build an antifascist-democratic Germany and reads ‘Die Einheit aller Antifaschisten ist die Garantie fürden Aufbaueines demokratischen Deutschlands’. Notice Soviet Union and United States flags raised in front of the entrance.

    [Photo by William Vandivert. AKG-images AKG1140967.]

    Both countries maintained good relationship although keeping in mind that a new  ‘war’ had already begun.

    The existing tension was going to rise until provoking the first great crisis of the city in the postwar period. On 18-20 June 1948 a reorganization of the monetary system took place in the Western occupation zones of Germany, directed by Ludwig Erhard. The Western Allies reform intended to eliminate the money overhang and stop the black market, and lay the basis for a functioning market economy, which finally succeeded eliminating the Nazi-Reichsmark (used from 1924), still circulating after the war but nearly worthless due to massive inflation. The new ‘German mark’- Deutschemark DM was born, and every West Berliner received 40 marks. The Soviet Union reaction was to carry out their own currency reform (the ‘Ost-mark’) on the Soviet occupation zone but failed in obtain the same improvement and this led to a greater division between the three Western zones and the East. Four days later, in a great and desperate measure, the Russians started the so-called Berlin-blockade.

    On March 20, 1949 the US military government declared the Deutschemark as the only valid currency in the Western sectors.

    [Berlin Winter February 1949, several shots showing crowds at an exchange office (Wechselstube) in the Steglitz district. Western Berliners ran to the exchange offices after rumors about the introduction of new issues of the ‘Westmark’ in the US Sector.]

    [Photo: Anonymous. AKG-images AKG228027.]

    [Photo: Anonymous. AKG-images AKG809224.]

    [February 1949, West Berliners at an exchange office (Wechselstube) in the Steglitz district. Note the typical Berlin-city small Imbiss in the background.]

    [Photo: Anonymous. AKG-images AKG809217.]

    [Photo: Anonymous. AKG-images AKG809210.]

    [This image shows the daily rate at an exchange office in Steglitz at the time: 1 Deutschemark West to 3.69 DM Ost.]

    [Photo: ZEIT-Archiv.]

    The rising tension in the city led to a nearly war-status, after the Soviets have blockaded all the roads isolating the Western sectors.

    On the US sectors, the force in charge of maintaining order and peace were the Constabulary, highly mobile mechanized security force units created by Gen Eisenhower after the war. Using armoured cars, tanks, jeeps, motorcycles and other vehicles outfitted with full radio and signal equipment will be organized soon in occupied Germany on an experimental basis. Units will specialize in patrolling and liaison with other control forces, checkpoints guards and control the population of West Germany. It was officially activated on 1 July 1946 and the unit fell under the command Major General Ernest N. Harmon. The Germans referred to them as the “Lightning Police” because of the insignia unit (a red lightning on a yellow background circled blue with a letter C in the middle being in blue) while the US servicemen called them the “Circle C Cowboys” because of their numerous horses.

    [U.S. Army M8 Greyhound armoured cars pass by the Rathaus Steglitz at Albrechtstraße during a patrol in the American sector of Berlin. This picture was taken in June 1948. The yellow and blue stripes on their helmets and the insignia identifies them as men from the 16th Constabulary Squadron (Separate), assigned to Berlin Command as part of the Constabulary occupation force of West Berlin.]

    [Photo by Walter Sanders. LIFE © Time Inc.]

    [June 24, 1948: Berliners watch among rubble a “Lightning Police” U.S. Army M8 Greyhound armoured car patrolling at Hauptstraße in the American sector of West Berlin Steglitz / Schöneberg amid rising tension in the divided city. Note the ‘Betreten verboten!’ sign painted on the ruined building behind and the press corner. ]

    [Photo Bettmann. Getty images.]

    West Berliners back to normality after the soviet blockade has been lifted in May 1949 thanks to the Airlift, the famous Berlin Luftbrücke.

    [Here, a sign in the display window of a wine store at Schloßstraße 105 in Berlin-Steglitz around March 1949 indicates that the blockade on liquor and spirits drinks has ended (“Die Blockade für Likör und Spirituosen aufgehoben!”) and ironically remarks them against the East Germany currency - the Ostmark.]

    [Photo: AKG-images 398690.]

    But despite the American help and money, rubble and ruined buildings are the daily panorama seen by West Berliners during many years after the end of the war, and certain areas of Steglitz suburb remained so affected until well into the 50s.

    [1952: this photograph shows the bombed-out Albrechtstraße / Ecke Sedanstraße, near Stadtpark Steglitz.]

    [Photo: Aengeneyndt, Jan-Derk. Südwest-Berlin als Kriegsgebiet. Die Bezirke Zehlendorf und Steglitz von Januar bis Juni 1945. 2003.]

    Northwest of Rathaus Steglitz we ran into Feuerbachstraße located nearly at Friedenau. Construction of the S-Bahnhof located there (planned under the name Feldstraße) began in 1932 and was opened on May 1933, as seen on the first image taken before the war. This train station was severely damaged during a massive air-raid on April 29, 1944 by American heavy bombers (679 B-17s and B-24s bombed Berlin that day), with the area around Feuerbachstraße and Steglitz being devastated although main target was Friedrichstraße Bahnhof. It was not reopened until June 1945 when the war ended. The famous Empfangsgebäude, the modernistic reception building seen in the picture, designed by architect Richard Brademann (1884-1965), was partly repaired during 1951/52 under Karl Waske direction.

    [Photo: Roberts, Maxwell J. The Decade of Diagrams. Department of Psychology University of Essex. Colchester. 2019.]

    [Photo by Peter Graham taken at the Deutsch-Russisches Museum Berlin.]

    In these two photographs taken by Heinrich Klaffs during the year 1970 we can see in the background the partly restored Feuerbachstraße station during the Cold War era. In 1984 after the result of a study to check the condition of the reception building, it was demolished and subsequent reconstructed as seen today.

    [Photo by Heinrich Klaffs. © 1970.]

    [Photo by Heinrich Klaffs. © 1970.]


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    Sources and Bibliography:

  • Aengeneyndt, Jan-Derk. Südwest-Berlin als Kriegsgebiet. Die Bezirke Zehlendorf und Steglitz von Januar bis Juni 1945. 2003.
  • Dost, S. Richard Brademann (1884-1965) Architekt der Berliner S-Bahn. Verlag Bernd Neddermeyer. 2002.
  • Feustel Jan, Köhler Hörst. Lebensader durch Sumpf und Sand, 100 Jahre Teltowkanal. 1. Auflage. Hendrik Bäßler Verlag. 2006.
  • Friese, Wolfgang. Lankwitz und seine Geschichte. Teil 5: Kloster und Luftangriff. Gabriele Schuster Eigen. 2013.
  • Hopfe, Christian. Berlin-Steglitz. Die Reihe Archivbilder. Sutton Archivbilder. 2017.
  • Kunstamt Steglitz (Hrsg.). Alles neu: 50 Jahre Kriegsende in Steglitz. Berlin 1995.
  • Major, Patrick. The Death of the KPD: Communism and Anti-Communism in West Germany, 1945-1956. OUP Oxford. 1998.
  • Moorhouse, Roger. Berlin at war. Life and death in Hitler’s capital, 1939-45. Vintage Books. 2011.
  • Roberts, Maxwell J. The Decade of Diagrams. Department of Psychology University of Essex. Colchester. 2019.
  • Simon, Christian. Steglitz im Wandel der Geschichte: vom grössten Dorf Preussens. be.bra-Verlag. 1997.
  • Steglitz-Museum Archiv. Heimatverein Steglitz e.V. Berlin. [http://steglitz-museum.de/archiv]
  • Stivers, William and Carter Donald A. The city becomes a symbol: the U.S. Army in the occupation of Berlin, 1945-1949. Center of Military History United States Army. Washington, D.C. 2017.
  • Wildt, Michael and Kreutzmueller, Christoph. Berlin 1933-1945 - Stadt und Gesellschaft im Nationalsozialismus. Siedler Verlag. 2013.
  • Zimmer, Dieter E. Bombenkrieg. Aus Dieter und Jürgen Zimmer: Zur Familiengeschichte. Unpublished manuscript. 2005. [http://www.d-e-zimmer.de/PDF/bombenkrieg2005.pdf]
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    Die Mauer muss weg


    Today we commemorate the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, but November 9 is much more than that happy event. For the history of Germany in the 20th century and for the rest of Europe maybe … it is a key day and a turning point in history.


    • 9. November • 1918

    Saturday, was the birthday of democracy at Berlin. A new revolution led by workers which think in a new world after the disaster of the Great War (1914-18) and the Soviet Revolution (1917), made Kaiser Wilhelm II to abdicate and that would become the end of the Hohenzollern’s time. The new Republic of Weimar was about to start. 

    [Photo: picture alliance / IMAGNO/Votava.]

    [Photo: Getty images.]


    • 9. November • 1923

    Ironically, that newly born democracy and the new Republic would give way in a short time to discomfort of some sectors that would quickly radicalize and led to the uprising of the NSDAP party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei) - the Nazi movement, led by Adolf Hitler. Hitler, convinced to be the leader of the change that Germany needed, organized a coup in a brewery in Munich in 9 November 1923, known as ´the Munich Putsch`. The rapid reaction of the government forces and the last-minute abstention of several key-members for the assault, would make the coup fail. Hitler would be imprisoned in Landsberg prison, but would return with greater power and with clearer and even more radical ideas for Germany, shown in his book ‘Mein Kampf’.

    [Photo: Bundesarchiv / Bild 146-2007-0003.]


    • 9. November • 1938  “Night of Broken Glass”

    During the night from the 9th to the 10th of November, 1938, known as the Kristallnacht progrom, Nazi-party SA and SS members led by anti-semite doctrines, wielding axes and torches, rampage synagogues, shops and houses of German Jews. This was the worst attack to the Jewry community since the Nazis seized power in 1933. During the 1938 pogroms, Nazi troops tore down nearly 1,400 synagogues. Thousands of Jewish business were destroyed. Over 30,000 Jews were arrested and taken to concentration camps and around 140 died. Testimonies from those dark days says that the local fire departments did not stop the synagogues and Jewish shops from burning; they merely prevented the flames from spreading to neighboring buildings.

    [Flames engulfed the Berlin synagogue located at Fasanenstraße in the Charlottenburg district after been raided by paramilitary Nazi-SA troopers during the Kristallnacht. This big synagogue, at the time the largest one in Berlin, was opened in August 1912 and closed by Goebbles orders in 1936. Destroyed in 1938, the remains of the building were again devastated during a British air-raid in 1943.]

    [Photos: Hulton Archive/Getty Images - AP Photo.]

    [In this image we see the burned interior of the Fasanenstraße synagogue in Berlin after the Kristallnacht pogrom.]

    [Photo: Hulto Yad Vashem Fotoarchiv 520/3.]

    [Berlin: destroyed Jewish shops by Nazis at the Kurfürstendamm the day after the Nazi attack.]

    [Photo: AP Photo.]


    • 9. November • 1961 - 1989


    On the night of November 9, the Wall built by the Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR) to protect the border that divided the East from the West fell after 28 years, not only in Berlin but throughout Germany, which has been divided into two blocks after the end of the Second World War. 
    [The actual postwar border line which divided Berlin in four sectors is painted across the Potsdamerstraße on the order of the British occupation authorities in August 1948 before the infamous Mauer was built in 1961 by East Germany authorities. This action follows incidents in which the Soviet-controlled German police made illegal entries into the Western Zone, in their raids against Black Market activities.]

    [Photo: Keystone/Getty Images.]

    [Berliners cheering and climbing during the Fall of the Berliner Mauer on November 1989 at the Brandenburger Tor.]

    [Photo: Wolfgang Kumm / dpa.]


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    STEGLITZ • Der erhängte Soldat

    [Photo: SZ Photo/Süddeutsche Zeitung Photo.].

    During the last days of April 1945, when the ‘Thousand-Year Reich’ was crumbling in ruins and blood, in most cities and towns were terrible scenes and murders. One of the most repeated scenes found by the victor Allied troops was the execution of German soldiers by members of the SS, hanged on poles or street lamps in squares as a frightening message to the people. One of those bloody episodes was remembered in Steglitz just after war.

    As we have seen on the previous post, on 24 April 1945 the Soviet Red Army started the assault on the southwestern outskirts of capital Berlin. The fight lasted until April 30 when the last German forces were defeated or captured. On the 24th, an unknown German soldier who refused to continue the fight was hanged on the tram-mast by Nazi-SS retreating troops in front of a house at Albrechtstraße 2 next to the Rathaus Steglitz, as a martial execution charged with either desertion, escape, plunder or cowardice from the enemy. The dead body hung for days and it is not known who was involved in this execution.

    Immediately after the end of the war a metal sheet was added to the mast by Antifaschistische members to remember this soldier, with the text: “Hier wurde am 24. April 1945 ein deutscher Soldat, weil er den zwecklosen, wahnsinnigen Krieg nicht weiter mitmachen wollte, von vertierten Nazi-Bestien erhängt.” [Here on April 24, 1945, a German soldier was hanged by outlawed Nazi beasts because he did not want to go on with the futile, insane war.]

    [Photo: Deutsches Historisches Museum [GOS-Nr. BA107815]

    The commemorative metal plate was changed in October 1947 by a wooden plate with a new text. This was designed by Albert Kraemer, the first art office director in Steglitz after the war and reads: “Von Deutschen wurde ein deutscher Soldat in den Tagen des Zusammenbruchs der Hitlerherrschaft am 24. April 1945 an diesem Mast erhängt.” [A German soldier was hanged on this mast by Germans in the days of the collapse of Hitler’s rule on April 24, 1945.]

    In the summer of 1948, due to critical comments from people about this text, a revision was made and Bürgeramt Steglitz changed again the plate. The altered text now reads: “Am 24. April 1945 wurde hier ein deutscher Soldat von unmenschlichen Nationalsozialisten erhängt.” [On April 24, 1945, a German soldier was hanged by inhuman National Socialists.]

    [Photo: Getty images.]

    [Photo: Getty images.]

    [A colour slide of that corner in front of the Steglitz Rathaus in September 1965.]

    [Photo by Rolf Goetze. © Stadtmuseum Berlin SM 2014-2012,72.]

    In November 1967, the plate was removed by the Tiefbauamt Steglitz im Einvernehmen due construction work and since 2007 it is shown in a showcase inside the Steglitz Rathaus building.

    [Photo: ©Doris Fustenberg ]

    Today, the hanged soldier is remembered with a stele at the adjacent Hermann-Ehlers-Platz. This stele was installed in May 2009 by the Amt für Weiterbildung und Kultur of Steglitz-Zehlendorf and designed by Karin Rosenberg with text by Doris Fürstenberg, who has researched this Battle of Berlin episode in “Kunstamt Steglitz (Hrsg.). Alles neu: 50 Jahre Kriegsende in Steglitz” published in 1995. (pp. 88-98). This research along a request of the District Office Steglitz in 1994 led to a potential match to an unknown soldier buried on July 1945 at the Friedhof Steglitz at Bergstraße. The dead man carried no identification tag or papers papers - only a handbag with the inscription ‘Obergefreiter Werner, Batterie 3, Artillerie Regiment’ but today sadly there is no confirmed identification yet.

    [Source: https://www.gedenktafeln-in-berlin.de/nc/gedenktafeln/gedenktafel-anzeige/tid/soldat/]

    [Photo: © OTFW, CC BY-SA 3.0.]

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    Sources and Bibliography:

  • Aengeneyndt, Jan-Derk. Südwest-Berlin als Kriegsgebiet. Die Bezirke Zehlendorf und Steglitz von Januar bis Juni 1945. 2003.
  • Antill, Peter D. Berlin 1945: End of the Thousand Year Reich. Campaign 159. Osprey Publishing. 2005.
  • Becker, Heinz. Vor 50 Jahren–die Lankwitzer Bombennacht 1943: Augenzeugen-Berichte und -Fotos zum Gedächtnis an den Luftangriff 23/24. August 1943. Arbeitskreis Historisches Lankwitz. 1993.
  • Beevor, Antony. Berlin: The Downfall 1945. Viking Press. 2002.
  • Feustel Jan, Köhler Hörst. Lebensader durch Sumpf und Sand, 100 Jahre Teltowkanal. 1. Auflage. Hendrik Bäßler Verlag. 2006.
  • Friese, Wolfgang. Lankwitz und seine Geschichte. Teil 5: Kloster und Luftangriff. Gabriele Schuster Eigen. 2013.
  • Haupt, Werner. Königsberg, Breslau, Wien, Berlin 1945: Der Bildbericht vom Ende der Ostfront. Pour le Mérite. 2017.
  • Hopfe, Christian. Berlin-Steglitz. Die Reihe Archivbilder. Sutton Archivbilder. 2017.
  • Kunstamt Steglitz (Hrsg.). Alles neu: 50 Jahre Kriegsende in Steglitz. Berlin 1995.
  • Moorhouse, Roger. Berlin at war. Life and death in Hitler’s capital, 1939-45. Vintage Books. 2011.
  • Simon, Christian. Steglitz im Wandel der Geschichte: vom grössten Dorf Preussens. be.bra-Verlag. Berlin. 1997.
  • Steglitz-Museum Archiv. Heimatverein Steglitz e.V. Berlin. [http://steglitz-museum.de/archiv]
  • Wildt, Michael and Kreutzmueller, Christoph. Berlin 1933-1945 - Stadt und Gesellschaft im Nationalsozialismus. Siedler Verlag. 2013.
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    Berlin unter Bomben • STEGLITZ

    ‘steht nichts’

    [Photo: Trustees of the IWM / Tony Redding. Life and Death in Bomber Command. Fonthill Media, 2013.]

    [Berlin 1/2 March 1943: this night oblique taken by an RAF bomber during the raid shows smoke drifting from fires in the Steglitz area (A) and a concentration of fires around the Tempelhof marshallings yards (B). The bomb-bay camera mechanism was activated seconds later the bomb-aimer dropped the bombs and the flash bomb. Most of the south-west area of the city suffered much damage on that night due to attacking force’s radar (H2S) difficulties to identified assigned targets, when 302 Bomber Command bombers visited the Reich’s capital. Bombing pattern spread over 100 square miles. The British lost 17 bombers (5.6 percent of the force) and 191 Berliners lost their lives.]

    Steglitz, due to its location on the western area, was one of the most bombed districts of the capital during the summer 1940 raids, as well as during the big British RAF campaign in 1943. A very good source about the bombings suffered by this Berlin suburb is the testimony of Dieter E. Zimmer, covered in detail in his work Bombenkrieg. Aus Dieter und Jürgen Zimmer: Zur Familiengeschichte, 2005.

    The ancient village was founded on the twelth century and it is first documented in 1375 as “Stegelitz”, being refounded in 1792 as a Prussian village. After the Weimar Republic was proclaimed, Steglitz was incorporated to the city in April 1920 into the Groß-Berlin-Gesetz together with neighboring villages creating new boroughs named after the largest villa in the area, a demarcation later used for reference during the division of the city in occupation sectors in July 1945. Since 2001, after a big administrative reform, Berlin southwestern area was united in the newly created Steglitz-Zehlendorf (which includes Steglitz, Lichterfelde, Lankwitz, Zehlendorf, Dahlem, Nikolassee and Wannsee). The suburb lived pioneer times at the dawn of the twentieth century, the world’s first electrified tram line ran through there (Groß-Lichterfelde village) in 1881 and Otto Lilienthal (1848-96) made his first flight jumps in 1893 from the Maihöhe nearby hills.

    [A 1912-postcard of the Steglitz suburb, with a view of Albrechtstraße Ecke Schloßstraße and the Rathaus Steglitz townhall, today home of Bürgeramt Steglitz (“Citizens’ Office” could be a translation). Designed by architects Reinhardt and Süßenguth, it was built in 1896-97 in Neogothic style.]

    [Photo: Postkart. akpool.]

    When the war broke out in September 1939, the western Berlin suburb of Steglitz was part of the ’Groß-Berlin’ capital of the Reich and the bombs would fell indiscriminately on its habitants, from the humblest workers on the banks of the Teltowkanal to the petty aristocratics and their elegant villas of Dahlem. But they would go on, the horrors of aerial bombings were something new and even curious, the fear to air-raids and their deadly consequences would not come until months later. Life was still going on in the capital of the Reich.

    [A column of new Volkswagen Beetles stops in front of the Rathaus Steglitz in January 1939 shown by the Deutsche Arbeitsfront (DAF), the Nazi-labour organisation. In those pre-war times the popular Beetle was known as the KdF Wagen, referring to Hitlerjugend’s motto “Kraft durch Freude” or “Strength through Joy”.]

    [Photo: Sueddeutsche Zeitung Photo / Alamy.]

    [The red-brick facade of the Rathaus Steglitz townhall, seen at left, highlights in this colour view of Schloßstraße Ecke Albrechtstraße at Berlin-Steglitz district (U-Bhf Rathaus Steglitz) taken on an early evening of mid 1940 with pedestrians and parked cars.]

    [Photo by Sobotta / Getty images.]

    [This closer look was taken seconds later than the previous image, it also shows Schloßstraße Ecke Albrechtstraße. The famous 4-story dome-shaped building seen at right (Schloßstraße 88 - Albrechtstraße 132) is listed as a cinema theatre, opening in 1911 as the ‘Deutsches Theater’ with 180 seats, and still exists with minor changes. Notice the numerous electricity lines for the Berlin yellow trams all over the street. The yellow road sign next to the Rathaus points to Grunewald, some 5 km away from this spot.]

    [Photo by Sobotta / Getty images.]

    [This winterly view of that same location from a different angle (Schloßstraße Ecke Albrechtstraße), taken in January-February 1945 shows us a more desolate scene after more than two years of continuing bombing. The image shows some damage to the building in the background, the “Deutsches Theater”, with shattered windows and fallen walls.]

    [Photo by Fritz Eschen / Getty images.]

    On the very first day of the war, 1 September 1939, the air-sirens sounded on this suburb, located on the corner house at Schloß- and Feuerbachstraße (Zimmer, 2005) to alert its people of incoming aircraft. Several bombs landed here during the fall 1940 British air-raids with the first big attack suffered by Steglitz and Friedenau being on Sunday, September 7, 1941 by RAF bombers. Steglitz, Lankwitz and surrounding areas were heavily hit when the British offensive was reactivated on January 1943, especially by the huge aerial attack on 1/2 March when 257 bombers raided the capital. This area was again bombed hard with big devastation on 23/24 August 1943 during the initial phase of the British RAF “Battle of Berlin” (in the case of Lankwitz nearly a 85% was destroyed) with severe damage done to the Steglitz power-station. Hundreds of people died during the two and a half hours raid, 174 of them at Steglitz, many were injured. The actual route of most bombers that night, further west than planned and the total failure of the radar marking system (H2S) made bombing pattern very scattered, with south-western districts taking a heavy toll, far away from the intended main target: Mitte. 

    The greatest destruction was about to come, however, during the American attacks of the spring of 1945, especially on the big raid made on February 3rd by a thousand heavy bombers of the US Eighth Air Force.

    Several works and factories were located near and on Steglitz, mainly the big AEG Telefunken factory in Goerzallee at Berlin-Zehlendorf. Also the extensive traffic of goods that traveled through the Landwehr- and Teltokanal made the area an intended target for the enemies and the strategic bombing campaign. Another factor of the ton of bombs dropped on this sector was that the majority of bombs fell in western Berlin on every raid because it was the closest and the first area to overfly from Britain bases; sometimes due to ‘easy trigger’ too, bombardiers anxious to start the return home flight. A long list of damaged buildings hit by bombs is recorded in the City records as are the casualties figures: Markelstraße, Lepsiusstraße, Schlossstraße, Birkbuschstraße, Feuerbachstraße…

    [The ruined house at Schloßstraße nr 19 following the British RAF Bomber Command air-raids on fall 1943. Today this place is home of Schildhorn-Apotheke in a new building built after the war, next to U-Bhn Schloßstraße station and the Bierpinsel & Schlossturm.]

    [Photo: TP Tegelportal UG.]

    [View of that location (Schloßstr 19) in 1958 once the war’s destruction and debris had been cleared and the street began its reconstruction.]

    [Photo: TP Tegelportal UG.]

    [Rubble and debris covered Schloßstraße 20 Ecke Ahornstraße in Berlin Steglitz district following the British RAF Bomber Command air-raids during August and November 1943; this image was taken in the summer of 1945 months after the end of the war. Notice the Möbel Höffner ad on the destroyed wall. Höffner Möbelgesellschaft GmbH is a Berlin-based furniture company founded in 1874 by Rudolf Höffner. Located at Veteranenstraße 12/13 (Berlin-Mitte), Höffner became Berlin’s largest furniture store until the outbreak of the Second World War.]

    [Photo: TP Tegelportal UG.]

    [This composite image of the same spot (Schloßstraße 20) allow us to examine the destroyed front facade of that building hit by RAF bombs.]

    [Photo: TP Tegelportal UG.]

    [March 1945: A freight train (route Potsdam - Berlin Potsdamer Bahnhof) rolls on Steglitz freight station; the damaged building seen at left was the Postfuhramt (post office) at Bergstraße and the S-bahn station is barely seen in the background. While all around the city is already in ruins, the Reichsbahn fulfills its intended task until the final collapse, and even rebuilds the destroyed signal box office.]

    [Photo by Walter Hollnagel via Eisenbahn stiftung.]

    [Photo by Walter Hollnagel via Eisenbahn stiftung.]

    [Here we see a destruction scene on the southeast corner of Berlin-Steglitz district: the Siemens- and Hannemann-brücke lays in ruins after the end of the war. Both bridges linked Steglitz and Lankwitz across the Teltowkanal and were destroyed shortly before the final assault in April 1945 by Wehrmacht troops to prevent Soviet forces to cross into the inner defence perimeter of the Reich’s capital. All bridges across the Teltow- and Landwehrkanal were demolished in this action except one (Späthstraße brücke).]

    [Photo: Steglitz-Museum. Heimatverein Steglitz e.V. Signatur: 02916.]

    [Source: Willemer, Wilhelm and others. P-136 The German Defense of Berlin 1945. United States Army European Command, Historical Division Typescript Studies, [Box no. 51], Hoover Institution Archives. 1953.]

    [The Hannemannbrücke was rebuilt in its present form in 1955/56 as a steel girder bridge. The original bridge (seen in this photo) was a truss structure made of steel. The Siemensbrücke at Siemensstraße was rebuilt in 1956/1957 as a steel beam bridge after the canal was cleared of debris and bridge damaged parts.]

    [Photo: Frisch. Zeitschrift für Bauwesen, 56. Jg. (1906), Sp. 645.]

    On 24 April 1945 the Red Army started the assault on the southwestern outskirts of capital Berlin. Once across the Teltow, Soviet troops of the Third Guards Tank Army and 1st Guards Army pushed on and reached Dahlem and Steglitz on that very day attacking from the south into the Berlin defensive sector “E” where Steglitz belongs. The fight lasted until April 30 when the last German forces were defeated or captured.

    [A Soviet convoy of the Red Army (most probably ZIS-5 trucks produced by Moscow, by contrast third on the line is an US-built GMC truck) passes in front of the battle-scarred old Rathaus at Schloßstraße Ecke Albrechtstraße after the fight for Berlin, May 1945.]

    [Photo via Piet Vergiet. Still from film/ Russian newsreel.]

    [More Soviet Red Army vehicles with two T-34/85 tanks led by an BA-65 armoured car drive past to Rathaus Steglitz at Schloßstraße in their way through the city to the southwestern suburbs of Berlin, taken in May 1945.]

    [Photo via Piet Vergiet. Still from film/ Russian newsreel.]

    [Photo via Piet Vergiet. Still from film/ Russian newsreel.]

    [German workers cleared rubble and debris at the destroyed streets of Berlin-Steglitz. In this silent footage filmed in July 1945, the level of destruction suffered by the suburb by the fighting and bombing raids can be seen. Video credit: US Holocaust Memorial Museum. Theodor Röckle Collection. ID:3917.]


    The destruction suffered by this area during the bombing raids and the final battle was heavy, and the Berliner sense of humor renamed Steglitz as ‘steht nichts’ - ‘nothing is standing’ after the war.


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    Sources and Bibliography:

  • Aengeneyndt, Jan-Derk. Südwest-Berlin als Kriegsgebiet. Die Bezirke Zehlendorf und Steglitz von Januar bis Juni 1945. 2003.
  • Antill, Peter D. Berlin 1945: End of the Thousand Year Reich. Campaign 159. Osprey Publishing. 2005.
  • Becker, Heinz. Vor 50 Jahren–die Lankwitzer Bombennacht 1943: Augenzeugen-Berichte und -Fotos zum Gedächtnis an den Luftangriff 23/24. August 1943. Arbeitskreis Historisches Lankwitz. 1993.
  • Beevor, Antony. Berlin: The Downfall 1945. Viking Press. 2002.
  • Feustel Jan, Köhler Hörst. Lebensader durch Sumpf und Sand, 100 Jahre Teltowkanal. 1. Auflage. Hendrik Bäßler Verlag. 2006.
  • Friese, Wolfgang. Lankwitz und seine Geschichte. Teil 5: Kloster und Luftangriff. Gabriele Schuster Eigen. 2013.
  • Hopfe, Christian. Berlin-Steglitz. Die Reihe Archivbilder. Sutton Archivbilder. 2017.
  • Kunstamt Steglitz (Hrsg.). Alles neu: 50 Jahre Kriegsende in Steglitz. Berlin 1995.
  • Landesarchiv Berlin; A Rep. 001-02 Nr. 700 ´Bericht über die Luftangriff`.
  • Liste der Brücken über den Teltowkanal. Wikiwand.
  • Middlebrook, Martin. The Berlin raids. RAF Bomber Command Winter 1943-44. Cassell & Co. 1988.
  • Middlebrook, Martin. The Bomber Command War Diaries: An Operational Reference Book. Pen & Sword Aviation. 2014.
  • Moorhouse, Roger. Berlin at war. Life and death in Hitler’s capital, 1939-45. Vintage Books. 2011.
  • Overy, Richard. The Bombing War: Europe, 1939-1945. Allen Lane. 2013.
  • Simon, Christian. Steglitz im Wandel der Geschichte: vom grössten Dorf Preussens. be.bra-Verlag. Berlin. 1997.
  • Steglitz-Museum Archiv. Heimatverein Steglitz e.V. Berlin. [http://steglitz-museum.de/archiv]
  • Wildt, Michael and Kreutzmueller, Christoph. Berlin 1933-1945 - Stadt und Gesellschaft im Nationalsozialismus. Siedler Verlag. 2013.
  • Willemer, Wilhelm and others. P-136 The German Defense of Berlin 1945. United States Army European Command, Historical Division Typescript Studies, [Box no. 51], Hoover Institution Archives. 1953.]
  • Zimmer, Dieter E. Bombenkrieg. Aus Dieter und Jürgen Zimmer: Zur Familiengeschichte. Unpublished manuscript. 2005. [http://www.d-e-zimmer.de/PDF/bombenkrieg2005.pdf]
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    War!

    WAR! •


    Berliners in front of a radio store listen to news of the invasion of Poland by German forces on September 1, 1939. The capital lived its first experience in aerial warfare when an air siren sounded that evening, the first of many to come. It was a false alarm, probably caused by a single plane straying too close to the city.

    A new war had begun, but as Hew Strachan says in “The First World War”: (…) “in 1918 the Germans had also learned what modern warfare entailed. They did not take to the streets to show their enthusiasm when the conflict broke out in 1939” (…) as they had done in 1914 to fire and cheer their soldiers on their way to the front. Hitler had unleashed a war like never seen before and would cost the destruction of Germany and much of Europe and the death of more than 60 million people.

    [Photo by Carl Weinrother: © Bildarchiv Preußischer Kulturbesitz.]

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    Sources and Bibliography:

  • Moorhouse, Roger. Berlin at war. Life and death in Hitler’s capital, 1939-45. Vintage Books, London. 2011.
  • Overy, Richard. The Bombing War: Europe, 1939-1945. Allen Lane. 2013.
  • Strachan, Hew. The First World War. Penguin Group. 2005.
  • Wildt, Michael and Kreutzmueller, Christoph. Berlin 1933-1945 - Stadt und Gesellschaft im Nationalsozialismus. Siedler Verlag. 2013.
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    James-Simon-Galerie


    There is a new building at Berlin Mitte.

    This city is in continuous development and innovation and the past of time is changing the capital, further away from the wounds suffered during the 1939-45 war. The new James-Simon-Galerie, designed by David Chipperfield Architects serves as the new entrance building for Museum Island, completing the ensemble between the Kupfergraben canal and Neues Museum. It is located next to our beloved battle-scarred building at Am Kupfergraben ecke Dorotheenstraße 1 (at left in the first image, see https://www.berlinluftterror.com/blog/this-is-berlin).

    The new museum is sited on a narrow strip of land where Karl Friedrich Schinkel’s ‘Neuer Packhof’ administration building stood until 1938.

    [Photo: Simon Menges.]

    Here we see it side by side with Pergamon Museum, the new world meets the ancient one.

    [Photo: Simon Menges.]

    [Photo: Simon Menges.]

    [Photo: Simon Menges.]


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