Wilhelmstraße is a street in the center of
Berlin, the capital of Germany. Between the mid 19th century
and 1945 it was the administrative centre first of the Kingdom
of Prussia and then of the unified German state, housing in
particular the Reich Chancellery and the Foreign Office. For
this reason the term "the Wilhelmstrasse" was used to signify
the German governmental administration as a whole, much as the
term "Whitehall" is often used to signify the British
governmental administration as a whole.
from the Unter den Linden, on a line slightly
east of south, until its juncture with the
Stresemannstrasse near the Hallesches Ufer, a
distance of about two kilometres. It is crossed
(as one heads south) by Behrenstrasse, Leipziger
Strasse and Zimmerstrasse, which to the west of
(known before World War II as
street along this line has existed since the
early 18th century, and was known as
Husarenstraße (Street of the Hussars) until
1740, when it, along with the Friedrichstrasse,
which runs roughly parallel to the east, were
given their current names to commemorate
Friedrich Wilhelm I of Prussia, who had done
much to develop the area.
Originally a wealthy residential street, with a
number of palaces belonging to members of the
Prussian royal family, the Wilhelmstraße
developed as a government precinct from the mid
19th century. From 1875 the Reich Chancellery
building stood at Wilhelmstraße 77. During the
years of the Weimar Republic (1919-33), the
Reich President's official residence was at
Wilhelmstraße 73. It was from the balcony of
this building that Reich President Paul von
Hindenburg watched the torchlight parade on the
night the Nazis came to power: 30 January 1933.
In 1938-39 a new Reich Chancellery was built for
Adolf Hitler by Albert Speer. This building
stood immediately south of the old Chancellery,
on the corner of the Wilhelmstraße
and the Voss
Strasse, and its official address was Voßstraße
4, but the balcony from which Hitler addressed
crowds faced the Wilhelmstraße. The square
opposite the building, known as the Wilhelmplatz,
no longer exists. Also vanished is the Kaiserhof
Hotel, which stood a few doors away and had been
Hitler's favoured residence in Berlin before he
came to power.
During the Nazi era, the German Foreign Office
was situated in the former Reich President's
palace at Wilhelmstraße 73, the old building
being refurbished in grandiose style by the Nazi
Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop. The
Finance Ministry stood at Wilhelmstraße 61.
During the Nazi years Joseph Goebbels'
Propaganda Ministry stood further south at
Wilhelmstraße 8-9. The Agriculture Ministry
stood at Wilhelmstraße 72, as it still does
today - the only German government ministry now
located on its prewar site, although in a
reconstructed building. The British Embassy was
at Wilhelmstraße 70. The original building was
destroyed by bombing, and a new Embassy was
built on the site after the reunification of
Germany. Queen Elizabeth II officiated at the
grand opening in July 2000.
The only major surviving public building in the
Wilhelmstrasse from the Nazi era is the Reich
Air Ministry building at Wilhelmstraße 81-85,
south of the Leipziger Strasse, a huge edifice
built on the orders of Hermann Göring between
1933 and 1936. This building escaped major
damage during the war. As one of the few intact
government buildings in central Berlin, it was
occupied by the Council of Ministers of the new
German Democratic Republic in 1949. As such it
was at the centre of the popular demonstrations
during the workers' uprising of 17 June 1953.
Apart from the Air Ministry, all the major
public buildings along the Wilhelmstraße
destroyed by Allied bombing during 1944 and
early 1945. The Wilhelmstraße
as far south as
the Zimmerstrasse was in the Soviet Zone of
occupation, and apart from clearing the rubble
from the street little was done to reconstruct
the area until the founding of the GDR in 1949.
The communist GDR regime regarded the former
government precinct as a relic of Prussian and
Nazi militarism and imperialism, and had all the
ruins of the government buildings demolished in
the early 1950s. In the late 1950s there were
almost no buildings at all along the Wilhelmstraße
from Unter den Linden to the
Leipziger Strasse. In the 1980s, apartment
blocks were built along this section of the
Parade for Hitler in the Wilhelmstraße.
|This photograph I took of the Wilhelmstraße on 14
July 2008. On the left the British ambassy.
Headquarters of the NSDAP at the Wilhelmstraße.
Aviation Ministry at the Wilhelmstraße .
|Aviation Ministry at the Wilhelmstraße with even a
Swastika flags in the Wilhelmstraße .
Führerbalcony at the Wilhelmplatz.
|Adoration of the Führer standing on his balcony
The new British Embassy at Wilhelmstraße 70. On the
historical marker can be seen British Ambassadors Lord
D'Abernon and Sir Eric Phipps.
The site of the Propaganda Ministry building at
Wilhelmstraße 8. Joseph Goebbels can be seen on the