Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Welcome to the Reichstag, Germany's Parliament building. While it is free to go into, you do have to make a reservation online, and it is sometimes difficult to get a time slot. We had to wait 3 weeks to get in. But it was worth it. The building, and history of the building, doesn't go back too far. Like much of Berlin it is steeped in controversy and the German's search for identity.
The Building was used before WW1, but really more for the pupet parliament. It wasn't a very important parliament, or building. The, during Hitler's rise to power it was burned down by an arsonist (no one knows who). The burning of the Reichstag was the event that allowed Hitler to enforce a state of emergency, and name himself as dictator. Hitler hated the parliament and never set foot in the building. It is all very suspicious.
After WWII it was a little bit, as an art gallery and performance center. But its proximity to East Berlin ensured that it was never very popular. After reunification in 1990 the German capital was moved from Bonn to Berlin, and the Reichstag was refurbished, and renovated by Norman Foster.
This is the Parliament Room. We learned some of the differences between German Parliament and Canadian. For example, no one has assigned seating. Also, every MP has to be present at a vote, and they pay big fines if they aren't. They also have to be in building during all sittings of Parliament. I think this is a very good idea!

Do you recognize this picture? (Although the actual event wasn't photographed, it was staged again afterwards for the picture.) It is the Soviets after they captured Berlin. They headed to the Reichstag, because it was wrongly assumed that this was Hitler's headquarters.
The Red Army left all sorts of graffiti all over the building. Norman Foster thought that this should be kept as a part of history. The inside walls are covered with Russian graffiti and bullet marks.

The Reichstag was in the west, but the building there across the street was the in East. The wall was no further than 3 meters from this entrance.

Hmm, I am only half done, but am getting very very tired. I will finish this tomorrow. Look forward to Reichstag II. 


  1. I will look forward to it indeed. Thanks for all the information you put into these posts!

  2. Facinating! Due to reading a lot about WWII I tend to picture Berlin the way it appears in that soviet propaganda picture. That is to say, devastated. I sometimes still struggle to reconcile that image with the idea of you living in Berlin as a modern vibrant city. ....good thing it is though!