federated state, capital and largest city of Germany

Berlin is the capital city of Germany and one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.4 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city and is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union. Located in northeastern Germany on the River w:Spree, it is the center of the Berlin-Brandenburg Metropolitan Region, which has about 4½ million residents from over 180 nations.

The Brandenburg Gate
The Reichstag
The Berlin Cathedral
Anna Bilińska-Bohdanowicz, "Unter den Linden" (1890)

First documented in the 13th century, Berlin became the capital of the Kingdom of Prussia (1701–1918), the German Empire (1871–1918), the Weimar Republic (1919–33) and the Third Reich (1933–45). Berlin in the 1920s was the third largest municipality in the world. After World War II, the city, along with the German state, was divided - into East Berlin — capital of the German Democratic Republic, colloquially identified in English as East Germany — and West Berlin, a political exclave (surrounded by the Berlin Wall from 1961 to 1989) and a de facto (although not de jure) state of the Federal Republic of Germany, known colloquially in English as West Germany from 1949 to 1990. Following German reunification in 1990, the city was once more designated as the capital of all Germany.


  • And for us in this country to think of having, for example, a dictatorship—a popular form of government in many countries to-day—would, on our part, be an act of consummate cowardice, an act of surrender, of throwing in our hands, a confession that we were unable to govern ourselves...In this country we do not want what I call the "get-rich-quick" mind. Speed and efficiency are very good things, and they are, perhaps, the idols of this generation. But they do not necessarily go together. Acceleration, as I have often said, is not a synonym for civilisation. It is quite true the State coach of this country may be going through heavy ground, the wheels may be creaking; but are you quite sure that the wheels of the State coach are not creaking to-day in Moscow, in Berlin, in Vienna? Are you quite certain that they are not creaking even in the United States of America?
  • An attempt is being made by the Russians in Berlin to build up a quasi-Communist party in their zone of Occupied Germany by showing special favors to groups of left-wing German leaders. At the end of the fighting last June, the American and British Armies withdrew westwards, in accordance with an earlier agreement, to a depth at some points of 150 miles upon a front of nearly four hundred miles, in order to allow our Russian allies to occupy this vast expanse of territory which the Western Democracies had conquered. If now the Soviet Government tries, by separate action, to build up a pro-Communist Germany in their areas, this will cause new serious difficulties in the British and American zones, and will give the defeated Germans the power of putting themselves up to auction between the Soviets and the Western Democracies. Whatever conclusions may be drawn from these facts - and facts they are - this is certainly not the Liberated Europe we fought to build up. Nor is it one which contains the essentials of permanent peace.
  • I see Berlin as the capital of the West; to me, it's a city where everyone can find a home, where everyone can find freedom, it's the last bastion against oppression.
  • It is true to say that Berlin had far fewer memorials associated with colonialism than imperial cities such as London or Paris. Two memorial stones Two memorial stones and one obelisk were erected to the memory of those soldiers who died in the colonial wars in China and German South-West Africa. Although Imperial Germany saw a major debate about a larger memorial for all Germans who died for the fatherland in the colonies, no specific plans were realized before the outbreak of war in 1914. A central memorial to the memory of the German colonies was only erected in 1932, and then it was built in Bremen and not in Berlin. However, the capital of the imperial nation saw the creation of an “African quarter” in Berlin Wedding. In 1899 the first two streets were named Kameruner Strasse and Togostrasse. 21 other names followed, names of colonies, of particular places in colonies, of famous colonizers and colonial generals. The renaming of streets with a colonial theme continued into the 1920s, demonstrating the strength and the appeal of colonial demonstrating the strength and the appeal of colonial revisionism in the Weimar Republic.
  • A disgusting city, this Berlin, a place where no one believes in anything.
  • And now we come to the most lurid Underworld of all cities — that of post-war Berlin. Ever since the declaration of peace, Berlin found its outlet in the wildest dissipation imaginable. The German is gross in his immorality, he likes his Halb-Welt or underworld pleasures to be devoid of any Kultur or refinement, he enjoys obscenity in a form which even the Parisian would not tolerate.
    • Netley Lucas, Ladies of the Underworld, 1927. Quoted in Gordon, Mel (2000). Voluptuous Panic: The Erotic World of Weimar Berlin, p. 1. ISBN 092291558X.
  • Berlin stimulates like arsenic.
    • Harold Nicolson, Der Querschnitt, 1929. Quoted in Gordon, Mel (2000). Voluptuous Panic: The Erotic World of Weimar Berlin, front fold. ISBN 092291558X.
  • To many visitors, Germany in the 1920s was the United States of Europe: big, industrial, ultra-modern. It was home to some of Europe's biggest and best corporations: the electrical engineering giant Siemens, the financial titan Deutsche Bank, the automobile maker Mercedes-Benz, the chemical conglomerate IG-Farben. Berlin boasted the biggest film industry in Europe, producing in Fritz Lang's Metropolis the science-fiction masterpiece of the twenties and in the same director's M the definitive film noir. Berlin had newspapers as sensational as William Randolph Hearst's (the 8Uhr-Abendblatt); department stores as big as Macy's (the Kaufhaus des Westens); sports stars as idolized as 'Babe' Ruth (the boxer Max Schmeling). So pervasive was the transatlantic influence that Franz Kafka felt able to write Amerika without even going there.
    • Niall Ferguson, The War of the World: Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Descent of the West (2006), p.  235
  • Einstein reached the pinnacle of his profession not in 1932, when he moved to Princeton, but in 1914, when he was appointed Professor at the University of Berlin, Director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics and a member of the Prussian Academy of Sciences. Even the finest scientists produced by Cambridge felt obliged to do a tour of duty in Germany. There was, however, another Germany - a Germany of provincial hometowns that felt no affection for the frenzied modernism of the Grossstadt. This Germany had been traumatized by the upheavals that had begun with the ghastly revelation of military defeat in November 1918. Nearly all the revolutionary events of the immediate post-war period took place in the big cities: Berlin, Hamburg, Munich. Despite the decision to draft the new republic's constitution in the sleepy capital of Thuringia, the Weimar Republic was always a metropolitan affair.
    • Niall Ferguson, The War of the World: Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Descent of the West (2006), p.  235
  • There are many people in the world who really don't understand, or say they don't, what is the great issue between the free world and the Communist world. Let them come to Berlin. There are some who say that communism is the wave of the future. Let them come to Berlin. And there are some who say in Europe and elsewhere we can work with the Communists. Let them come to Berlin. And there are even a few who say that it is true that communism is an evil system, but it permits us to make economic progress. Lass' sie nach Berlin kommen. Let them come to Berlin.
  • Few at the time or since have questioned the costs or the risks associated with Berlin in 1948–1949. From that time until the end of the Cold War, the Allies’ presence in West Berlin remained the embodiment of Soviet frustration and, despite the city’s real vulnerability, of America’s commitment to halt aggression. Berlin became an important intelligence site for both sides—an opportunity to dig listening tunnels, recruit spies and counteragents, and monitor the other’s activities—but for the West it also provided an invaluable means to observe the communists’ military personnel, formations, and equipment. Moreover, less than four years after World War II, two million West Berliners—and, by extension, the entire population of western Germany—were suddenly transformed into America’s democratic protégés. Truman’s actions in 1948–1949 replaced appeasement with firmness and selective engagement with an expansive definition of US interests and prestige. The Berlin airlift also redefined America’s view of its Cold War partnerships to include populations unwilling or incapable of defending themselves from aggression, who would be rescued by decisive US action. In real as well as symbolic terms, the “Berlin syndrome” wiped out the Munich nightmare that had haunted the West for a decade.
    • Carole C. Fink, The Cold War: An International History (2017), p. 71
  • That absurd trickle called the Spree, for instance, in Berlin, does not deserve the name of river.
  • To my mind, imperialism is something very simple and clear and it exists as a fact when one country, a large country, seizes a certain strip of territory and subjects to its laws a certain number of men and women against their will. Soviet policy after the beginning of the second world war was precisely this. There is no difficulty in pointing this out, but the difficulty lies in the fact that when one quotes from memory one will forget one or other argument. Because the Russians, thanks to the second world war, have quite simply annexed the three Baltic States, taken a piece of Finland, a piece of Rumania, a piece of Poland, a piece of Germany and, thanks to a well thought-out policy composed of internal subversion and external pressure, have established Governments justifiably styled as Satellites, in Warsaw, Prague, Budapest, Sofia, Bucharest, Tirana and East Berlin - I except Belgrade where the regime is unique thanks to the energy and courage of Marshal Tito. If all this does not constitute manifestations of imperialism, if all this is not the result of a policy consciously willed and consciously pursued, an imperialist aim, then indeed we shall have to start to go back to a new discussion and a new definition of words.
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