Hitler’s Berlin: Abused City

Richard Evans:

FOR LIBERALS AND leftists in Germany, Berlin has always represented the dark side of German history. As capital of the military state of Prussia, it became the grandiose center and symbol of the Reich founded by Bismarck in 1871—culturally stuffy, conservative, dull, backward, dominated by civil servants and soldiers. No wonder that when liberals and Social Democrats established a democratic Republic after the overthrow of the Kaiser, they avoided the Prussian capital. They sought to distance themselves from Berlin by holding the Constituent Assembly in the provincial town of Weimar, forever associated with the name of Goethe and Schiller, Germany’s greatest poets and writers. Weimar was, of course, far from the revolutionary turbulence and street-fighting raging across the capital in the early months of 1919, but it also provided distance from a past that the creators of the new Germany wanted to reject.