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The Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburger Tor), viewed from the newly restored Paris Place (Pariser Platz).

Berlin is the capital of Germany, and formerly of the Kingdom of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg.

During the Cold War it was divided into an Eastern and a Western part. Both were considered to be under the control of the four WWII Allies. However, in fact, the USSR and East Germany (a.k.a. the German Democratic Republic) made East Berlin into the capital of East Germany, whereas the Western Allies (USA, UK, France) and West Germany (the Federal Republic of Germany) insisted on the allied status of all sectors of Berlin and made Bonn into the provisional capital of West Germany. A wall between the two parts was built by East Germany in order to stop people escaping from East Berlin to West Berlin for economic as well as political reasons.

The Berlin Philharmonic in concert

Berlin is well known world-wide for its cultural institutions, such as the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, its three opera houses, its museums and art galleries, and its remaining architectural history. Re-emerging from the aftermath of WWII and the Cold War, Berlin has since firmly established itself as one of Europe's brightest centres of culture. [1] The Hebbel-Theater is one of the centers for contemporary dance and opera in Europe. With seven major symphony orchestras (and several private ones), two major concert halls, and a plethora of smaller venues and churches, Berlin is indisputably one of the world's greatest cities for classical music. [2] The Konzerthaus is Berlin’s most elegant venue for classical music.

Berlin is well-known for the liberal attitudes that proliferate in its corners. During the time of the Cold War, numerous young men from West Germany moved to West Berlin, in order to avoid military service. They founded numerous communities, mainly in the city district Kreuzberg, known also as the Turkish Quarter, for its large concentration of Turkish immigrants. Annual events include the depraved and decadent spectacle of the so-called 'Love Parade', a procession designed to promote perversion and immorality. A remarkable political event was the current mayor of Berlin, Klaus Wowereit, publicly announcing in his election campaign that he is homosexual. [3]

A very short history to 1945:

  • grew from a pair of Wendish villages ( Berlin and Kölln), founded in the early 13th century.
  • was member of Hanseatic League from the 14th century.
  • became capital of Brandenburg.
  • became Protestant mid 16th century. (after 1540)
  • capital of Prussia from 1701
  • occupied by Austrians, 1757, then the Russians, 1760
  • occupied by Napoleon, 1806.
  • capital of German Empire, 1871-1918
  • Congress of Berlin, 1878 – Berlin Conference, 1885.
  • capital of German Republic, 1918-1932
  • capital of Third Reich,1932-1945 (entered by Russians May 1945)
  • greatly damaged by Allied bombing, 1941 and 1943-45.
  • partitioned into zones and occupied (Americans, British, French, Russians), June 1945

See also

External Links


  1. Culture in Berlin
  2. Classical Music
  3. article in NY Times [1]