Berlin, Germany

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Berlin is biggest city and the capital of Germany. The population is at about 3.4 million. Berlin is very well known as the city of knowledge. It was founded in the 13th century, making it one of the younger cities in Europe. The city was divided after World War II. The capital of East Germany became East Berlin and West Berlin became a Western exclave. The Berlin Wall surrounded this.

Berlin is located in eastern Germany. It is located on the banks of the Spree River. The Spree River flows from the western part of the city to the southeastern part of Berlin. This river joins with the Havel River. There are numerous rivers that are in the city of Berlin.

Berlin grew very quickly during the nineteenth century. It became a thriving commercial center. There were many miserable slums. People worked in factories and lived in poverty. It was also a time of theaters and opera houses.

Artists and writers were drawn to Berlin after World War I. The city became a symbol of urban sophistication. There was nightlife of cafes, cabarets, and nightclubs during the nineteenth century in Berlin.

Many landmarks are located in Berlin. The East Side Gallery is an exhibition of art, some from the last existing parts of the Berlin Wall. The Funkturn Berlin is a 492-foot tall radio tower. This was built between 1924 and 1926. It stands on insulators, and is the only observation tower that does. A windowed elevator reaches the observation deck. The German president lives in the Schloss Bellevue. Today this is the largest existing palace in Berlin.

Most of Berlin residents do not have a registered religion. The largest religious groups are Protestants and Roman Catholics. Jews and Muslims make up a small portion of the religions. In Berlin there are also some members of atheist and humanist groups.

Berlin has one of the most diverse and vibrant nightlife scenes throughout all of Europe. By the 1990’s, young adults have made Berlin the premier nightlife destination of Europe. An ethical street parade is celebrated every year on Pentecost weekend, just one of the many parades and festivals. Techno music has been very popular in Berlin since the 1990’s and is played in many of the clubs.

There are 153 museums in Berlin. Museum Island is located in the northern part of the Spree Island. A few of the most popular museums are The Altes Museum, The Neues Museum, The Pergamon Museum, and The Bode Museum. Included in The Jewish Museum is an exhibition of German-Jewish history. The largest mounted dinosaur in the world is located at the Museum fur Naturkunde.

In Berlin there are more than 50 theaters. The oldest is the Deutsches Theater. It was built in 1849 and has been operating since then. The three major opera houses in Berlin are the Deutsche Opera, the Berlin State Opera, and the Komische Opera. The Berlin State Opera opened in 1742 and is the oldest of these three. The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra is one of the most prominent orchestras in the world and is one of the seven symphony orchestras in Berlin.

The Berlin Wall has been a huge part of the history of Berlin. It resulted because of the economic and political conditions. A huge number of people left the area at this time. About 160,000 refugees were counted from January to the beginning of August in 1961. At this time, the political situation was very difficult. The Soviets demanded that West Berlin should become a “free city” within six months. They also demanded that the western allies should withdraw their troops from West Berlin.

On the morning of Sunday, August 13, 1961, the blocking off began. It was to block off East Berlin from West Berlin. They used barbed wire and antitank obstacles. The local railway and subway services between the two sides were interrupted. People living in East Berlin were no longer allowed to enter West Berlin. A few days later, workers began to replace the temporary barriers of barbed wire and antitank obstacles with a solid wall.

On September 20, 1961, people had to evacuate their houses situated immediately at the border to West Berlin. In August of 1962 an eighteen-year-old citizen from East Berlin attempted to escape over the wall. After being shot down by East Berlin border patrol, he bled to death. The total distance of the wall was 96 miles. In 1963 an order was passed concerning the installation of a border area at the frontier. Inhabitants who lived within a distance of 100 meters in East Berlin had to register.

Thursday, November 9th, 1989 was the day that the wall fell. The German government allowed thousands of citizens to pass freely. This was finally the end of communism. People from West and East Berlin celebrated the fall of the wall by watching the destruction. This was a great day for inhabitants living in the city of Berlin at this time.

One popular location in Berlin is the Führerbunker. The name literally means shelter for the leader. In April of 1945 this is where Adolf Hitler moved. It is the place where he and his wife committed suicide during World War II. There were actually two bunkers that were connected together. The building was protected by about four meters of concrete. About thirty rooms were in the two levels of the bunker.

The current mayor of Berlin is Klaus Wowereit. Past mayors include Eberhard Diepgen, Walter Momper, and Richard von Weizsacker. Eberhard Depgen has been the mayor a total of two times.

Berlin is the capital of the Federal Republic of Germany. It is also the seat of the President of Germany. Berlin has been one of the three city-states out of the sixteen states of Germany. The federal council is the representation of the Federal States of Germany. Several projects within the city of Berlin are invested in by the European Union. Education and social programs are co-financed.

The Greater Berlin Act was a law passed by the Prussian government in 1920. It vastly expanded the size of Berlin. On April 1st, 1881, it became a city district separate from Brandenburg. This act was passed by the Prussian parliament on April 27th, 1920. It came into effect on October 1st of the same year. The act increased the size of Berlin from 25.5 miles to 341 miles. The population doubled from about 1.9 million to almost 4 million. Nearly 1.2 million of these newcomers came from the 7 surrounding towns alone.

Official partnerships are still maintained with seventeen cities. Town twinning between Berlin and other cities began in 1967 with Los Angeles, California. The partnerships of East Berlin were cancelled at the time of German reunification but were later partially reestablished. The partnerships of West Berlin had been restricted to the borough level.

Bibliography Page"BiW: The Berlin Wall." Institut für Chemie und Biochemie der FU Berlin - Benutzerseiten. 16 Feb. 2009 .

Ellis, Elisabeth, and Anthony Esler. World History. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2005.

Epler, Doris. The Berlin Wall. Brookfield, CT: The Millbrook P, 1992.

Schloredt, Valerie. Germany. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Macdonald & Co, 1991.

Yancey, Diane. The Reunification of Germany. San Diego, CA: Lucent Books, 1994.