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Sunday, 22 July 2012


Berlin was first mentioned in about 1230. The city grew out of two Wendish villages, Berlin and Kölln, which were chartered later in the 13th century and merged in 1307.

Following the construction of railway links and of a canal system that linked the city to the Oder, Elbe, and Rhine rivers and to the North Sea, the importance of Berlin as an industrial and commercial centre was greatly increased. It was made the capital of the German Empire in 1871.

Police in Berlin were the first to use water cannon on demonstrators in 1930 when they tried to stop a violent Nazi protest against the anti-war film All Quiet on The Western Front, which the Nazis felt was an insult to German soldiers.

During World War II, the very first bomb dropped on Berlin by the Allies killed the only elephant in the Berlin Zoo.

Adolf Hitler had planned to change the name of Berlin to Germania.

The only remaining town gate of Berlin, the Brandenburg Gate was modeled after the propylaeum of the Athenian Acropolis.

The 1948 Berlin Blockade by the Soviet Union made overland travel between West Germany and West Berlin impossible.

US and British pilots begin dropping food and supplies by plane to Berlin on June 26, 1948 after the city was isolated in the Cold War. The Berlin Airlift, when the U.S. and Britain flew in two million tons of supplies to isolated West Berlin in 1948-9, lasted for 320 days.

Berliners watch a Douglas C-54 Skymaster land at Tempelhof Airport, 1948

During the blockade of Berlin, U.S. pilots managed to rain down 23 tons of candy on the city's children to boost their morale.

US Air Force Pilot Gail Halvorsen dropped candy and chewing gum with hand made parachutes. The children would know it was Halvorsen, as when flying over Berlin, he would wiggle his wings side by side.

After the division of Germany in 1949, East Berlin became the capital of East Germany and Bonn was made the provisional capital of West Germany.

On August 13, 1961 the Soviet zone was sealed off by the Russians, and the Berlin Wall was built along the zonal boundary. The Berlin Wall divided the city until it was opened in November 1989.

The Berlin Wall was 96 miles long.

This image was taken in 1986 by Thierry Noir at Bethaniendamm in Berlin-Kreuzberg.

Causes of deaths by people attempting illegal border crossings at the Berlin Wall included shooting, drowning, suffocation, suicide, and falling from a balloon.

The Berlin Wall was opened for the first time on December 20, 1963 so West Berliners could enjoy one-day Christmas visits to family in East Berlin. The arrangement lasted only four years.

The Brandenburg Gate in Berlin reopened after almost 30 years on December 22, 1989. Engineers had worked through the night to create two crossing points in the gate, on the eastern side of the Berlin Wall, after the wall fell.

Brandenburg gate in Berlin. By Pierre-Selim Huard - Wikipedia Commons

Following the reunification of Germany on October 3, 1990, East and West Berlin were once more reunited and Berlin became once again the national capital.

Potsdamer Platz, which was the centre of the city in the 1920s and 1930s, came under commercial and residential renewal in the 1990s, when it became the largest construction site in Europe.

With 1,700 Berlin has more bridges than Venice and has over 180 kilometers of navigable waterways in the city.

The Currywurst Museum in Berlin is the world’s only museum dedicated to the German sausage seasoned with curry ketchup.

Source Hutchinson Encylopedia © RM 2012. Helicon Publishing is division of RM.

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