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Was the Reichstag in East or West Berlin?

by | Oct 17, 2023 | World War Tour Berlin

When discussing the history of Berlin, one cannot ignore the significance of the Reichstag. As the seat of the German Parliament, this iconic building played a pivotal role in the country’s political landscape. However, with the division of Berlin during the Cold War, the question arises: was the Reichstag located in East or West Berlin?

The Reichstag before the Division of Berlin

The Reichstag was originally constructed in the late 19th century and housed the German Imperial Parliament. Located in the central Mitte district of Berlin, the building stood on the western side of the River Spree. At that time, there was no East or West Berlin – it was simply the city of Berlin.

Throughout the early 20th century, the Reichstag witnessed significant political events, including the rise of the Nazi Party and Adolf Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor in 1933. However, during World War II, the building suffered severe damage due to bombings and the Battle of Berlin.

The Division of Berlin

Following the end of World War II, Germany and its capital city, Berlin, were divided among the victorious Allied powers. In 1945, Berlin was split into four zones of occupation: American, British, French, and Soviet. Similarly, the Reichstag came under the control of the respective occupying forces.

As tensions between the Soviet Union and the Western Allies grew, the division between East and West Berlin solidified. In 1949, East Germany, officially known as the German Democratic Republic (GDR), was established, with East Berlin as its capital. West Germany, or the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), was formed with Bonn as its provisional capital.

The Location of the Reichstag during Division

The Reichstag, being situated in the heart of Berlin, found itself straddling the newly formed border. The Berlin Wall, erected in 1961 by the GDR, effectively divided the city into East and West. However, the wall did not pass directly through the Reichstag’s location, leaving it in the Soviet-controlled East Berlin.

City: Reichstag Location:
East Berlin Yes
West Berlin No

Reunification and the Modern Reichstag

Following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the subsequent reunification of Germany in 1990, the Reichstag underwent extensive renovations. The renowned British architect Sir Norman Foster redesigned the building, adding a striking glass dome to symbolize transparency and openness.

Today, the Reichstag is once again the seat of the German Parliament and stands as a symbol of the reunified Berlin.

Conclusion

The Reichstag, originally situated in the central Mitte district of Berlin, found itself located in East Berlin during the division of the city. Due to the alignment of the Berlin Wall, the building remained in the Soviet-controlled sector. However, with the reunification of Germany, the Reichstag regained its status as the seat of the German Parliament and stands as a reminder of Berlin’s complex and fascinating history.

Was the Reichstag in East or West Berlin?