In 1987 one of the last big struggles between the western and eastern part of Berlin took place. In order to claim the historical right to celebrate Berlin's 750th anniversary, both parts embarked on a strenuous program of restoration. Today Berlin and its visitors profit from the results.
Berlin originated from the sister communities Cölln and Berlin, one situated on an island of the river Spree, the other on its east bank. Thanks to waterways and trade routes, the village quickly advanced to a meeting place for merchants and artisans. When in 1470 the Electors of Brandenburg took residence in Berlin, the long history of Berlin as a seat for government began.
The inauguration of the Prussian Monarchy in 1701 increased Berlin's governmental functions. The palaces, parks and avenues they built are still Berlin's highlights. Through Bismarck's politics, the German Empire was founded in 1871.
Berlin became the capital of this empire. Thanks to the economics boom of the "Gründerzeit" (Founders'Years), Berlin was able to catch up with the established industrial centers in Central Europe.
The German Empire did not survive World War I. In 1918, Germany was proclaimed a republic with Berlin as the capital of the so called `Weimarer Republik'. In the following years, Berlin became the center of Nazi activities and the starting point for both World War II and the Holocaust.
World War II left Berlin almost completely in ruins, bringing its political role to an end for some time to come. Since 1945 Berlin has been affected by the changing tides of world politics more than virtually any other city. Immediately after the end of the war, Berlin was divided into four zones of occupation, each of them administered by one of the Four Powers (Soviet Union, United States of Amerika, Great Britan and France). The Soviet blockade of the three western sectors in 1948/49 demonstrated the factual political separation of the city. Saved by the Western Allies from communist dominance, West-Berlin remained under the sovereignty of the three Western Powers. As an island in the middle of communist East Germany, Berlin developed into a symbol of determination for freedom and served as a glittering "showcase of the West".
A new chapter in Berlin's history began on November 9, 1989, the day the wall fell - the wall that had inhumanly cut the city into two parts for 28 years. Today Berlin is a seismograph for the reintegration of Europe's East and West. On June 20, 1991, the German Parliament (Bundestag) decided to move the seat of the federal government back to Berlin. Ministries and other institutions of the federal goverment have gradually started to move from Bonn to Berlin. This process is expected to last for about ten years with a peak around the turn of the century.
See here for more information around Berlin (with some maps and a little Sightseeing Tour)
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Last modified: December 11, 1997