Reichstag building

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Reichstag
Berlin - Reichstagsgebaude3.jpg
The dedication Dem deutschen Volke, meaning To the German people, can be seen on the frieze.
Berlin location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Location within Berlin
General information
Town or city Berlin
Country Germany
Coordinates 52°31′07″N13°22′35″E / 52.5186°N 13.3763°E / 52.5186; 13.3763 Coordinates: 52°31′07″N13°22′35″E / 52.5186°N 13.3763°E / 52.5186; 13.3763
Construction started9 June 1884
Completed1894
Renovated1961–1964, 1992–1999
Height47 m (154 ft)
Design and construction
Architect Paul Wallot
Renovating team
Architect Norman Foster

The Reichstag (German : Reichstagsgebäudepronounced [ˈʁaɪçstaːksgəˈbɔʏdə] ; officially: Deutscher Bundestag – Plenarbereich Reichstagsgebäudepronounced [ ˈdɔʏtʃɐ ˈbʊndəsˌtaːk ˈpleːnaːrbəraɪç ˈʁaɪçstaːksgəˈbɔʏdə] ) is a historic edifice in Berlin, Germany, constructed to house the Imperial Diet (German: Reichstag ) of the German Empire. It was opened in 1894 and housed the Diet until 1933, when it was severely damaged after being set on fire. After World War II, the building fell into disuse; the parliament of the German Democratic Republic (the Volkskammer) met in the Palast der Republik in East Berlin, while the parliament of the Federal Republic of Germany (the Bundestag) met in the Bundeshaus in Bonn.

German language West Germanic language

German is a West Germanic language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol (Italy), the German-speaking Community of Belgium, and Liechtenstein. It is also one of the three official languages of Luxembourg and a co-official language in the Opole Voivodeship in Poland. The languages which are most similar to German are the other members of the West Germanic language branch: Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. There are also strong similarities in vocabulary with Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, although those belong to the North Germanic group. German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English.

Berlin Capital of Germany

Berlin is the capital and largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,748,148 (2018) inhabitants make it the second most populous city proper of the European Union after London. The city is one of Germany's 16 federal states. It is surrounded by the state of Brandenburg, and contiguous with its capital, Potsdam. The two cities are at the center of the Berlin-Brandenburg capital region, which is, with about six million inhabitants and an area of more than 30,000 km², Germany's third-largest metropolitan region after the Rhine-Ruhr and Rhine-Main regions.

Germany Federal parliamentary republic in central-western Europe

Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central and Western Europe, lying between the Baltic and North Seas to the north, and the Alps to the south. It borders Denmark to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria and Switzerland to the south, France to the southwest, and Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands to the west.

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The ruined building was made safe against the elements and partially refurbished in the 1960s, but no attempt at full restoration was made until after German reunification on 3 October 1990, when it underwent a reconstruction led by architect Norman Foster. After its completion in 1999, it once again became the meeting place of the German parliament: the modern Bundestag.

German reunification process in 1990 in which East and West Germany once again became one country

The German reunification was the process in 1990 in which the German Democratic Republic became part of the Federal Republic of Germany to form the reunited nation of Germany, and when Berlin reunited into a single city, as provided by its then Grundgesetz (constitution) Article 23. The end of the unification process is officially referred to as German unity, celebrated on 3 October. Following German reunification, Berlin was once again designated as the capital of united Germany.

Norman Foster, Baron Foster of Thames Bank British architect es viejo

Norman Robert Foster, Baron Foster of Thames Bank, is a British architect whose company, Foster + Partners, maintains an international design practice famous for high-tech architecture.

Bundestag Federal parliament of Germany

The Bundestag is the German federal parliament. It can be compared to the chamber of deputies along the lines of the United States House of Representatives or the House of Commons of the United Kingdom. Through the Bundesrat, a separate institution, the individual states of Germany participate in legislation similar to a second house in a bicameral parliament.

The term Reichstag, when used to connote a diet, dates back to the Holy Roman Empire. The building was built for the Diet of the German Empire, which was succeeded by the Reichstag of the Weimar Republic. The latter would become the Reichstag of Nazi Germany, which left the building (and ceased to act as a parliament) after the 1933 fire and never returned, using the Kroll Opera House instead; the term Reichstag has not been used by German parliaments since World War II. In today's usage, the word Reichstag (Imperial Diet Building) refers mainly to the building, while Bundestag (Federal Diet) refers to the institution.

In politics, a diet is a formal deliberative assembly. The term is mainly used historically for the Imperial Diet, the general assembly of the Imperial Estates of the Holy Roman Empire, and for the legislative bodies of certain countries. Modern usage mainly relates to the Kokkai of Japan, called "Diet" in English, or the German Bundestag, the Federal Diet.

Holy Roman Empire varying complex of lands that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe

The Holy Roman Empire was a multi-ethnic complex of territories in Western and Central Europe that developed during the Early Middle Ages and continued until its dissolution in 1806 during the Napoleonic Wars. The largest territory of the empire after 962 was the Kingdom of Germany, though it also came to include the neighboring Kingdom of Bohemia, the Kingdom of Burgundy, the Kingdom of Italy, and numerous other territories.

German Empire empire in Central Europe between 1871–1918

The German Empire, also known as Imperial Germany, was the German nation state that existed from the unification of Germany in 1871 until the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1918.

History of the building

Konigsplatz Berlin, um 1880.jpg
The Königsplatz with the Raczyński Palace in 1880 (Brandenburg Gate on the right)
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The Reichstag building with the Victory Column on the Königsplatz, c. 1900
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Reichstag building, constitution celebration, 11 August 1932

Imperial and Weimar Republic eras

Construction of the building began well after the unification of Germany in 1871. Previously, the parliament had assembled in several other buildings in Leipziger Straße in Berlin but these were generally considered too small, so in 1872 an architectural contest with 103 participating architects was carried out to erect a new building. After a short survey of possible sites, a parliamentary committee recommended the east side of the Königsplatz (today, Platz der Republik), which however was occupied by the palace of a Polish-Prussian aristocrat, Athanasius Raczyński.

Unification of Germany Creation of a politically and administratively integrated nation state of German-speaking populations in 1871, in the form of the German Empire

The unification of Germany into a politically and administratively integrated nation state officially occurred on 18 January 1871, in the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles in France. Princes of the German states, excluding Austria, gathered there to proclaim William I of Prussia as German Emperor after the French capitulation in the Franco-Prussian War. Unofficially, the de facto transition of most of the German-speaking populations into a federated organization of states had been developing for some time through alliances formal and informal between princely rulers, but in fits and starts. The self-interests of the various parties hampered the process over nearly a century of autocratic experimentation, beginning in the era of the Napoleonic Wars, which prompted the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806, and the subsequent rise of German nationalism.

Platz der Republik (Berlin) Public square in Berlin, Germany

Platz der Republik is a square in Berlin, Germany. It is located in the Tiergarten, directly in front (west) of the Reichstag building. The square has an area of about 36,900 square meters and is almost completely covered by grass but is decorated with some hedges and a few trees.

Work did not start until ten years later though, owing to various problems with purchasing the property and arguments between Wilhelm I, Otto von Bismarck, and the members of the Reichstag about how the construction should be performed. After lengthy negotiations, the Raczyński Palace was purchased and demolished, making way for the new building.

Memorial Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, architectural inspiration for the original Reichstag Building Memorial Hall Phila.jpg
Memorial Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, architectural inspiration for the original Reichstag Building

In 1882, another architectural contest was held, with 200 architects participating. This time the winner, the Frankfurt architect Paul Wallot, would actually see his Neo-Baroque project executed. The direct model for Wallot's design was Philadelphia's Memorial Hall, the main building of the 1876 Centennial Exhibition. [1] Some of the Reichstag's decorative sculptures, reliefs, and inscriptions were by sculptor Otto Lessing. On 29 June 1884, the foundation stone was finally laid by Wilhelm I, at the east side of the Königsplatz. Before construction was completed by Philipp Holzmann A.G. in 1894, [2] Wilhelm I died (in 1888, the Year of Three Emperors). His eventual successor, Wilhelm II, took a more jaundiced view of parliamentary democracy than his grandfather. The original building was acclaimed for the construction of an original cupola of steel and glass, considered an engineering feat at the time. But its mixture of architectural styles drew widespread criticism. [3]

In 1916 the iconic words Dem Deutschen Volke ("[To] the German people") were placed above the main façade of the building, much to the displeasure of Wilhelm II, who had tried to block the adding of the inscription for its democratic significance. After World War I had ended and Wilhelm had abdicated, during the revolutionary days of 1918, Philipp Scheidemann proclaimed the institution of a republic from one of the balconies of the Reichstag building on 9 November. The building continued to be the seat of the parliament of the Weimar Republic (1919–1933), which was still called the Reichstag.

Nazi period

Reichstag in postwar occupied Berlin, 3 June 1945 Ruins of the Reichstag in Berlin, 3 June 1945. BU8573.jpg
Reichstag in postwar occupied Berlin, 3 June 1945
The Reichstag on fire Reichstagsbrand.jpg
The Reichstag on fire
DDR stamp, 1970 Stamps of Germany (DDR) 1970, 1569.jpg
DDR stamp, 1970

The building caught fire on 27 February 1933, under circumstances still not entirely known. This gave a pretext for the Nazis to suspend most rights provided for by the 1919 Weimar Constitution in the Reichstag Fire Decree, allowing them to arrest Communists and increase police action throughout Germany. The burning of Reichstag had also created fear in the capitalists (US and west European states) of rise of communism in Germany.[ citation needed ] This furthered their policy of appeasement towards Hitler (who had portrayed himself as anti-Communist).[ citation needed ]

During the 12 years of Nazi rule, the Reichstag building was not used for parliamentary sessions. Instead, the few times that the Reichstag convened at all, it did so in the Kroll Opera House, opposite the Reichstag building. This applied particularly to the session of 23 March 1933, in which the Reichstag surrendered its powers to Adolf Hitler in the Enabling Act, another step in the so-called Gleichschaltung ("coordination"). The main meeting hall of the building (which was unusable after the fire) was instead used for propaganda presentations and, during World War II, for military purposes. It was also considered for conversion to a flak tower but was found to be structurally unsuitable.

The building, never fully repaired after the fire, was further damaged by air raids. During the Battle of Berlin in 1945, it became one of the central targets for the Red Army to capture, due to its perceived symbolic significance. Today, visitors to the building can still see Soviet graffiti on smoky walls inside as well as on part of the roof, which was preserved during the reconstructions after reunification.

On 2 May 1945, Yevgeny Khaldei took the photo Raising a flag over the Reichstag , which symbolized the victory of the USSR over Germany.

Cold War

When the Cold War emerged, the building was physically within West Berlin lying in the British zone, but only a few metres from the border of East Berlin, which ran around the back of the building and in 1961 was closed by the Berlin Wall. During the Berlin blockade, an enormous number of West Berliners assembled before the building on 9 September 1948, and Mayor Ernst Reuter held a famous speech that ended with "Ihr Völker der Welt, schaut auf diese Stadt!" ("You peoples of the world, look upon this city!")

Reichstag building in 1970, before reconstruction of the dome. Berlin - Reichstag 1970.jpg
Reichstag building in 1970, before reconstruction of the dome.

After the war, the building was essentially a ruin. In addition, there was no real use for it, since the seat of government of West Germany had been established in Bonn in 1949. Still, in 1956, after some debate, the West German government decided that the Reichstag should not be torn down, but be restored instead. However, the cupola of the original building, which had also been heavily damaged in the war, was demolished. Another architectural contest was held, and the winner, Paul Baumgarten, reconstructed the building from 1961 to 1964. He removed all sumptuous heraldic statues, monuments, decorations, and the like that harked back to the mythology of the German past from the inside, and also the largest ones on the outside of the building. In effect, he created a plain building inside the historic Reichstag, retaining only the outer walls stripped of most of their statues and decoration.

The artistic and practical value of his work was the subject of much debate after German reunification. Under the 1971 Four Power Agreement on Berlin, Berlin was formally outside the bounds of either East or West Germany, and so the West German parliament, the Bundestag , was not allowed to assemble formally in West Berlin. This prohibition was obeyed even though East Germany had declared East Berlin its capital, violating this provision. Until 1990, the building was thus used only for occasional representative meetings, and one-off events. It was also used for a widely lauded permanent exhibition about German history called Fragen an die deutsche Geschichte ("Questions to the German history").

Reunification

The Wrapping before the Reconstruction on July 6, 1995 EB-Lebenspartnerin.jpg
The Wrapping before the Reconstruction on July 6, 1995
Reconstruction in 1998 Berlin Aug.98 - 3.jpg
Reconstruction in 1998

The official German reunification ceremony on 3 October 1990, was held at the Reichstag building, including Chancellor Helmut Kohl, President Richard von Weizsäcker, former Chancellor Willy Brandt and many others. The event included huge firework displays [ citation needed ]. One day later, the parliament of the united Germany would assemble in an act of symbolism in the Reichstag building.

However, at that time, the role of Berlin had not yet been decided upon. Only after a fierce debate, considered by many as one of the most memorable sessions of parliament, did the Bundestag conclude, on 20 June 1991, with quite a slim majority in favour of both government and parliament returning to Berlin from Bonn. In 1992, Norman Foster won yet another architectural contest for the reconstruction of the building. His winning concept looked very different from what was later executed. Notably, the original design did not include a cupola.

Before reconstruction began, the Reichstag was wrapped by the Bulgarian-American artist Christo and his wife Jeanne-Claude in 1995, attracting millions of visitors. [4] The project was financed by the artists through the sale of preparatory drawings and collages, as well as early works of the 1950s and 1960s.

During the reconstruction, the building was first almost completely gutted, taking out everything except the outer walls, including all changes made by Baumgarten in the 1960s. Respect for the historic aspects of the building was one of the conditions stipulated to the architects, so traces of historical events were to be retained in a visible state. Among them were graffiti left by Soviet soldiers after the final battle for Berlin in April–May 1945. Written in Cyrillic script, they include such slogans as "Hitler kaputt" and names of individual soldiers. However, graffiti with racist or sexist themes were removed, in agreement with Russian diplomats at the time.

The reconstruction was completed in 1999, with the Bundestag convening there officially for the first time on 19 April of that year. [5] The Reichstag is now the second most visited attraction in Germany, not least because of the huge glass dome that was erected on the roof as a gesture to the original 1894 cupola, giving an impressive view over the city, especially at night.

Reichstag building seen from the former Konigsplatz at night Berlin - Reichstag building at night - 2013.jpg
Reichstag building seen from the former Königsplatz at night

Dome

Rear of the Reichstag as seen at night from across the Spree Reichstag at-night.JPG
Rear of the Reichstag as seen at night from across the Spree

The large glass dome at the very top of the Reichstag has a 360-degree view of the surrounding Berlin cityscape. The main hall (debating chamber) of the parliament below can also be seen from inside the dome, and natural light from above radiates down to the parliament floor. A large sun shield tracks the movement of the sun electronically and blocks direct sunlight which would not only cause large solar gain, but dazzle those below. Construction work was finished in 1999 and the seat of parliament was transferred to the Bundestag in April of that year. The dome is open to visitors by prior registration. [6]

See also

Notes

  1. Filler, Martin, Makers of Modern Architecture, Volume 1, New York: The New York Review of Books, 2007, ISBN   978-1-59017-227-8, p. 226
  2. "Germany Fails in Effort To Keep Builder Afloat". 24 November 1999. Retrieved 31 March 2013.
  3. David Clay Large, Berlin, New York: Basic Books, 2000, ISBN   978-0-465-02646-3, p. 59.
  4. Church, Jok. "Wrapped Reichstag Berlin, 1971–95". Christo and Jeanne Claude. Archived from the original on 27 August 2007. Retrieved 25 June 2009.
  5. Reichstag Archived 2 May 2015 at the Wayback Machine Berlin International
  6. www.reichstag.de "Registering to visit the dome of the Reichstag Building" Retrieved 29 September 2011

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