Category: Berlin

Allied Victory Parade 1945: The Forgotten Parade

Earlier this year, we covered the anniversary of the British Victory Parade that took place on July 21st 1945 - this month we take a closer look at the Allied Victory Parade of September 1945 when the four Allied powers gathered their troops to celebrate the defeat of Nazi Germany. - It didn't quite turn out as Joseph Stalin had expected. In fact, the Allied Victory Parade in Berlin on September 7th, 1945 would come to be known as 'The Forgotten Parade' - overshadowed in size by the earlier British Victory Parade held in Berlin in July, 1945. It was intended to be a monumental celebration of the forces that had collectively defeated Nazi Germany. The story of that defeat would, however, be presented differently by the different Allies. According to the Soviet side, the Great Patriotic War was won by the Red Army taking on, with little assistance, the…

British Victory Parade 1945: Desert Rats! May Your Glory Ever Shine!

The thump of the 3rd Royal Horse Artillery’s 25-pounder-guns at 10 am on Saturday, July 21st 1945 was intended to represent the last time that British artillery would be fired on the streets of Berlin - and the start of the British Victory Parade. The procession would take place along the very same street where Adolf Hitler’s troops had held their own victory parade almost five years earlier, on July 27th 1940, following the defeat of Poland and surrender of France. [caption id="attachment_6579" align="alignright" width="300"] 3rd Royal Horse Artillery salute[/caption] Now, as the leaders of the Big Three (Truman, Stalin & Churchill) gathered in nearby Potsdam to attend the final Allied conference of the Second World War, some 10,000 men along with tanks, armoured cars, searchlight batteries and artillery formations would march along Berlin's monumental Charlottenburger Chaussee - reviewed by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Ministers Anthony Eden and Clement…

THE Guide To Private Tours In Berlin

[caption id="attachment_5035" align="alignleft" width="800"] A Private Guided Tour of Berlin with Matt & The BBC team[/caption] ***DISCLAIMER*** For the record, I should state that I have worked as a guide offering private tours in Berlin for more than a decade. In the process, I've met thousands of wonderful people and worked alongside the best tour guides in the city. I'd like to say I've accumulated enough experience to have some useful insight into the subject. It is my intention to remain helpfully impartial in my observations and recommendations. If you want to hear about how to get the best experience out of a guided tour of Berlin, then read on. - Matt ***DISCLAIMER OVER*** - [toc] Tour groups are a fundamental part of the scenery in Berlin. Wandering the city's historic central district of Mitte, it is hard not to notice the numerous large groups of tourists being spirited through…

Pulling back the curtain on Christo’s Reichstag

[caption id="attachment_4375" align="aligncenter" width="981"] Reichstag Verhüllung von Christo 1995 (Foto: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Gertrud K.)[/caption] The idea for the Reichstag project was initially proposed way back in 1971, by Michael S. Cullen, an American, living in Berlin, when he sent a postcard to the artist duo Christo and Jean-Claude. The two had already established the presentation of wrapped objects as the motif for their artistic oevre, since meeting in Paris in 1958, when Christo was commissioned to paint a portrait of Jean-Claude's mother. Their first joint project would be a waterside display of wrapped oil barrels and dockside parcels at the port of Cologne in 1961. It took eight days for the couple to wrap the Reichstag building in 1995 and from the 24th June it is estimated that around five million people visited the work of art during the short two weeks of its existence. At the time, the…

The best Christmas markets in Berlin – Our top five!

Well, it's here already, Christmas starts early in Berlin. As of 21st November 2016, the season is finally underway - as the city is transformed into a winter wonderland, complete with all the trimmings. More than 60 Christmas markets, where you can bask in the festive nostalgic glow of traditional German Christmas past. Giant Yule trees, creepy barrel organ players, the smell of fresh bread wafting in the cool night air, and enough hot mulled wine to make the winter temperatures bearable until 2017. With that we decided to put together our top five recommendations for Christmas Markets in Berlin, 2016.   Weihnachts Zauber Gendarmenmarkt The top of any list. Guarded by the magnificent towers of the French and German churches of Gendarmenmarkt and with the Konzerthaus as an added backdrop – this has to be Berlin's most celebrated Christmas market - and rightly so. Although much of the market is outside, with wooden huts belting out…

On this day: The Bundeswehr is born (12th November 1955)

  At the end of the Second World War, Germany was left without a military following the dissolution of the Wehrmacht by the occupying Allied armies.   Following the enactment of the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany in May 1949, the new West German state was established. The way it would be allowed to function was set out in that piece of legislation. Article 87a of the Act stipulated that the country's armed force was to be a defensive force for West Germany and, significantly, not allowed to fight outside the country.  It took until the 12th November 1955 for the Bundeswehr to be created.  This was to be the unified armed forces of West Germany - the Army, Navy, Air Force, Joint Support Service and Joint Medical Service. At this time there were just 101 volunteer recruits. To raise the number of personnel, compulsory military service was introduced…

The German 9/11 – the ‘Day of Fate’

On a crisp autumn evening in 2014, I stood overlooking the path the Berlin Wall once traced as it wound around the British, French and US occupation zones of West Berlin like a concrete lariat. Breaking with precedent established at previous muted celebrations, the German government had decided to organise a unique spectacle to mark the 25th anniverary of the sudden & unexpected redundancy of the world's most famous wall. [caption id="attachment_4283" align="alignleft" width="300"] Berlin Wall Lichtgrenze, 2014[/caption] On 9th November 2014, thousands of illuminated balloons on slender stands, stood equal height as the former internal barrier of the German Democratic Republic, lined a 15km route through Berlin, passing the site of the main ceremony at the Brandenburg Gate. Following perfomances by Peter Gabriel and Udo Lindenberg, and to the strained tones of a rendition of Beethoven's 9th Symphony, the balloons were released one-by-one to soar into the night-sky. Like…

Berlin’s Days of Jewish Culture

Considering the history of Berlin's jewish community in its totality, it would be no great feat to conclude that persecution and catastrophe have served as recurring themes. Although the first jewish grave in this region dates from 1244 in nearby Spandau (embedded in the wall of the Citadel), the first mention of jews in Berlin's city documents is in an ordinance enacted on October 28th 1295 forbidding wool merchants from selling yarn to jews. [caption id="attachment_4257" align="alignright" width="300"] The 'court jew' Lippold is executed, 1571[/caption] This act of institutionalised discrimination was to set the tone for future treatment of the jewish community, routinely blamed for failed harvests, epidemics and accused of host desecration while numerous times over the next three centuries being expelled en masse. Following the death of Elector Joachim II in 1571, the jews of the city were expelled "for all time", their property plundered and confiscated and the…

Long Weekend in Germany

Today is the start of a long weekend in Germany, leading up to the official commemorations for the anniversary of German reunification on 3rd October. If you're in Berlin near the Brandenburg Gate, be prepared to encounter some celebratory bratwurst munching and general drunken revellery as part of the street festival held in the run-up to the national holiday on Monday. For more info: https://www.berlin.de/…/2716319-2842498-day-of-german-unity… Photo credit: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-1990-1003-400 / Grimm, Peer / CC-BY-SA 3.0

On this day: The Berlin Airlift officially ends

[caption id="attachment_4160" align="alignleft" width="770"] C47s at Templehof Airlift for Berlin Airlift[/caption] On this day: The Berlin Airlift officially ends (30th September 1949) Following disagreements over the introduction of the Deutsche Mark in then occupied Germany, Soviet forces initiated a blockade of West Berlin in June 1948, limiting access via road, rail and water, to the British, French and US zones of the divided city. Resolving to support the isolated Western zones of Berlin and counter the Soviet chokehold by flying in essential supplies, the Western allies, primarily under US auspices, undertook one of the greatest logistical feats in history. At a cost of more than $200 million and the lives of 101 airmen and crew, over 2.3 million tons of food, fuel, machinery and other supplies reached West Berlin, mainly transported by C-47 and C-54 cargo planes, in the space of 15 months. Over 270,000 flights were recorded and at the…