The physical manifestation of the history of Berlin

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

The inner city of Berlin is a melting pot of contrasting cultures, busy streets, calm greens, and architecture that tells the wild history of the city. And I am in love with it.

Now, that could describe almost any large European city, but I feel like Berlin is different in one aspect. Berlin is at the center of some of the most well known and influential events of the last 100 years. This story, is about those landmarks, that literally helps cements the history of Nazi Germany and East Germany, into the history¹. I have picked three of the landmarks, I find the most remarkable. 

Strasse des. 17 Juni

View down Strasse des. 17. Juni in Berlin. Looking at Die Siegessäule.
View from Brandenburger Tor, down Strasse des. 17 Juni, with Die Siegessäule in the middle.

Looking at a map, Strasse des. 17 Juni is immediately recognizable. The wide road, carving trough Tiergarten. Die Siegessäule rises up in the middle of a large roundabout, marking the center of the East-West Axis, as it was called in Nazi Germany. The sides of the road is lined with lampposts, designed by the prominent Nazi architect, Albert Speer.¹ The street was originally named Charlottenburg Strusse, and connected the center of Berlin, to the borough of Charlottenburg.² In 1799, it was paved, and was soon a busy street.³ At the end of World War 2, the long and wide street would be used as a makeshift airport, since the regular airports was unusable.⁴

Knowing the history of the Strasse des. 17 Juni, makes visiting it all the more remarkable. Standing at the foot of the Siegessäule, imagining airplanes taking off or landing, while everything around is bombed into ruins, really helps you appreciate the relative peace of current times.

A man looking into a field in Tiergarten in Berlin.
The author, taking in the nature of Tiergarten. Photo by Christian Aaen Christiansen

If visiting Berlin, spend the good part of a day, walking up and down the Strasse des. 17 Juni and trough Tiergarten. Take in the nature and the historic sites.

And now what?

Well, I started this article years ago. I wanted to do two more bits. One about the "modern Fernsehnsturm just next to the St. Marienkirche. That is a 500 years leap, in under 500 meters.". And one about the Berlin Wall. I wanted to do it properly, citing sources and digging up my old images. But, that is hard, and I still have been able to muster the will to finish it. So this will have to do.


[3] Shirer, William L. (1960). The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
[4] Beevor, Antony (2002). Berlin: The Downfall 1945. London; New York: Viking-Penguin Books. p. 322