Even before starting with Oblomov Art, we were traveling to cities that had something to do with the Soviet era, or so to say "the Cold War times". When we say "Cold War" and "iron curtain" you say...? "Berlin Wall" of course.
Some highlights from Berlin to get you up to speed are the well known Tempelhof, the Siegessäule, the Brandenburger Tor and Checkpoint Charlie of course. But what were these places, why were they build? What happened here? Let's go on a little journey.
Tempelhof was designated as an airport by the Reich Ministry of Transport on 8 October 1923. The old terminal was originally constructed in 1927. In anticipation of increasing air traffic, the Nazi government began an enormous reconstruction in the mid-1930s.
From June 1948 to May 1949, when the Soviet Union had blocked West-Berlin, Tempelhof played an important role as an airlift for the American Allies. At 1.2 kilometers in length and 290,000 square meters in floor space, Tempelhof is surpassed in size only by the Pentagon in Washington and the palace of the late dictator Ceausescu in Bucharest. Everything is exactly as the Americans left it in 1993.
Address: Platz der Luftbrücke, Berlin
The reason for its construction was the victory of Prussia over the Danes in the war of 1864. Originally, the Victory Column was a 50.66 meter high column on the Königsplatz (now Platz der Republik) built in front of the Reichstag. However, in 1938/1939 the column was moved by the Nazis to its current location in the Tiergarten. The Nazis thought this location would fit better in Welthauptstadt Germania (world capital Germania). An extra column of 7.5 meters was added to the column, reaching the current height of 66.89 meters.
Address: Siegessäule, Großer Stern, 10557 Berlin
The Brandenburg Tor is an 18th-century neoclassical monument, built on the orders of Prussian king Frederick William II after the Batavian Revolution. One of the best-known landmarks of Germany, it was built on the site of a former city gate that marked the start of the road from Berlin to the town of Brandenburg (an der Havel).
In the 1960s, the Berlin Wall was built along this gate on the west side. The Brandenburg Tor stood in the Russian sector and could be seen from the west from an elevation. For thirty years it was not possible to walk under the gate, not even from the east because of the border security at the time.
Address: Brandenburger Tor, Berlin
Checkpoint Charlie ("Checkpoint C")
After the Second World War, both Germany and Berlin were divided into four zones of occupation: an American, a British, a French and a Soviet zone of occupation.
The American, British and French occupation zones together grew into the Federal Republic of Germany (colloquially: West Germany) and West Berlin, the Russian zones into the German Democratic Republic (GDR) and East Berlin. The heavily guarded German-German border ran between the Federal Republic and the GDR. West Berlin, which was completely enclosed by the GDR, was surrounded by the Berlin Wall.
Checkpoint Charlie was the only checkpoint where foreigners (anyone except West Berliners, West Germans, and citizens of the Allied Control Council countries) could enter East Berlin by road. The nearby Bahnhof Friedrichstraße was the only option by public transport.
We want to write a lot more about Checkpoint Charlie as there are so much interesting facts to share but please read on about Checkpoint Charlie on this Wikipedia page (opens in a new window).
Address: Friedrichstraße 44, 10969 Berlin
The Weissensee Saga
To get in the mood before visiting Berlin, try to check out the series Weissensee about two families in East Berlin, between 1980 and 1990, showing the dark aspects of the dying GDR.
Next time we'll touch the Berlin Wall, the famous TV tower, a smaller museum with GDR era items, and a cool cozy area to hang out after a full day of discovering GDR remnants. Read all about it here.