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Berlin 1933-45

July 20, 2015

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In a formidable display of military might, Soviet tanks, troops and aircraft converge on the Reichstag in the heart of Berlin. For the Soviets the capture of the Reichstag symbolized the destruction of the Nazi state and the end of the Second World War in Europe. The Nazis resisted to the end, ensuring the almost complete destruction of the city in two weeks of brutal house-to-house fighting in April 1945.

As Germany's capital Berlin became the heart of the Nazi state, and was also the site of its ultimate destruction in 1945. This photo essay will examine Berlin during the Nazi-era beginning in 1933, and go on to take an in-depth look at the Battle of Berlin in 1945 and see how the city today has rebounded from fascism, bombing, street fighting and communist rule. I visited Berlin for two weeks in the summer of 2015 and took the Now photos. While scars from the past are everywhere, from the Holocaust memorial to bullet holes in buildings and the remains of the Berlin Wall, today the city is a diverse and lively metropolis, and certainly one of the most fun places to be in the world.

The Rise of the Nazis

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Berlin's Rathaus in the 1930s, seat of Berlin's government. A cosmopolitan city, the Nazis were never particularly popular in Berlin before Hitler rose to power, yet the Nazis would dramatically reshape the city during their 12 years in power.

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A typical street in cosmpolitan Berlin in the early 1930s, this in the Jewish Quarter. We are looking down the Grenadier Schendelgasse towards the old Schonhauser Strasse. The building at right remains but most of the rest of the district was so thoroughly destroyed in the war that little evidence remains of this busy street. The main exception are the stumbling blocks, little raised paving stones placed in front of the former homes of Jews who were exterminated by the Nazis.

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The Hitler Youth staging a rally in the Lustgarten in the weeks after Hitler's rise to power in January 1933. In the background is the Altes Museum.

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Police stage a march through the Brandenburg Gate, still in their Weimar era uniforms.

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The original caption from the Nazi propaganda service reads "Berlin police and Nazi auxiliary police, search the Berlin Jewish Quarter in the Grenadierstra├če and Dragonerstra├če after communist leaflets and pesky aliens!" The active persecution of the Jews has begun within months of Hitler's rise to power. This is just a couple houses down from the previous picture of the Jewish Quarter.

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Herman Goering, Reichminister of the Luftwaffe and for much of the period Hitler's second in command, celebrates his wedding at Berlin's cathedral, the dom.


Hitler's new Reich Chancellery. Designed by Albert Speer and constructed in less than a year in 1938 and 1939, the Chancellery was a massive building built in the Nazi architectural style that mixed neo-Classicism and brutalism. Completely destroyed by bombing and fighting in 1945, it fell into the Soviet sphere of Berlin and was demolished shortly thereafter. The land was left empty for most of DDR era until the 1980s when the East German government erected up these fairly nondescript housing blocks.

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In the final days of the war the Red Army approached Berlin. Here a Sturmgeschutz III waits for the arrival of the Russians on Invalidenstrasse while troops move into position.




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