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Berlin has seen the collapse of a plethora of empires, ranging of course from royal families to evil dictatorships. The early part of the 20th century saw the fall of the Kingdom of Prussia and the German empire, on the back of the First World War. The heavy defeat of World War One left the nation and its economy completely on its knees. Made easier by a desperate and starving population, the Nazi Party lead by the Austrian born Adolf Hitler, seized power from the Weimer Republic, taking Germany into the period of The Third Reich.
Throughout the 1930’s, the popularity of Hitler and his party grew and grew. Using his almost completely unchallenged rise to power, Hitler and the German army invaded Poland in September 1939. This had almighty consequences, and gave birth to the biggest show of military action the world had ever seen, World War Two. For the next six years, Europe was the frontline for many major battles and conflicts.
In the year 1945, Stalin sent his Russian troops to seize the city of Berlin. The battle of Berlin and the end of the Second World War, saw the city reduced to literally a wasteland of bricks and mortar. The triumphant Allies shared the spoils of victory by dividing the city into four main sectors. Each sector was controlled by a different nation, these being France, Great Britain, the USA and the Soviet Union.
Ever growing tensions between the USA and the Soviet Union at the conclusion of the war, meant that Berlin was to become the focal point for the upcoming Cold War. With Germany now divided into both East and West, the Soviet backed East Germany saw its opportunity to instil the doctrine of Communism into Central Europe.
Starting in the early 1960’s, Berliners began fleeing the east in search of a better life in the west. The numbers of escapees grew exponentially, forcing East Germany to build a wall dividing not only Berlin, but Europe as well, this was commonly known as the “Iron Curtain”. Tragedy struck, as up to 139 people were killed trying to cross the border. This continued for several decades, all the way up until 1991, when the wall finally came crashing down, eventually aiding in the collapse of the once mighty Soviet Union.
Since 1991, Berlin has gone from strength to strength. The resilient locals have reclaimed and rebuilt their much loved city. With one eye on the past and the other on the future, Berlin pays homage and respect to its checked history, with memorials and museums situated all throughout the city.
Sightseeing in Berlin can be quite enjoyable, but at the same time very sombre and moving. It will remind you of both the best and worst of what humanity has to offer. So take our advice and soak up the atmosphere of Berlin.
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