Berlin’s appeal lies not only in its status as a world-class European capital city, but also as a centre for extraordinary historic events. This was where a divided world first came together after the end of the Cold War. And it’s still home to much discussion about the future – a liberal hub of international youth culture, Berlin will play host to this year’s Y20 Summit.
Centre of power: Opened in 2001, by former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, the Federal Chancellery is an impressive structure – a feat of modern architecture on a grand scale, it was designed by Axel Schulte. The building alone is eight times bigger than the White House and state guests can arrive by helicopter with a dedicated helipad on the doorstep. Constructed while Helmut Kohl was still Chancellor, Berlin residents call it ‘the Kohllosseum’ or simply ‘the washing machine’ because of its cubic form and round windows.
Seat of Parliament: There are precious few buildings in Germany as rich in history as the Reichstag. Built in the 19th century during the German Empire, this was the epicentre of political events during the Weimar Republic, the Third Reich, German partition and reunification. All these events left their mark on the famous building: today, visitors can still see graffiti left by Soviet soldiers, while the newly erected glass dome on the roof represents the openness of a reunified Germany to the world.
Symbol of the city: King Frederick II commissioned the Brandenburg Gate in the late 18th century to commemorate the end of the Seven Years’ War. Despite this, the 26-metre-high gate has often found itself at the centre of conflict: in 1806, Napoleon removed the Quadriga, the sculpture on top of the gate, and took it to Paris. For the Nazis, the Brandenburg Gate served as the backdrop for an enormous torchlight parade after they seized power in 1933. And while the city was separated by the Berlin Wall, the Gate was completely impassable. Today, the Brandenburg Gate remains an icon: as the symbol of the united and liberal city of Berlin, it is probably one of the most popular selfie spots for millions of tourists from around the world.
Berlin Wall: “Nobody has any intention of building a wall,” said GDR head of state Walter Ulbricht in 1961. A short while later, 40 kilometres of concrete split Berlin in two – separating East and West Germany. The wall stood fast in the heart of Berlin for 38 years and many people died attempting to cross it. In 1987, US President Ronald Reagan appealed to the Soviet Union, saying: “Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” But it wasn’t until 9 November 1989 that the wall eventually fell, marking the end of the Cold War.
The Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ) is headed by Federal Minister Manuela Schwesig. She is represented in matters of policy and before the German Bundestag (parliament) by Parliamentary State Secretaries Caren Marks and Elke Ferner. Permanent State Secretary Dr. Ralf Kleindiek is the highest-ranking civil servant in the Ministry and is responsible for all administrative affairs.
Event venue 1 will be in Kleinmachnow, south-west of Berlin. The history of German partition is visible on the streets here: numerous old border crossings, memorial stones and panels serve to remind us of that era and the area’s Soviet history.
Event venue 2 will be in the heart of Berlin. Both east and west are easily accessible from the hotel. There are plenty of places to visit in the area: both Neue Kirche and Checkpoint Charlie are just a 10-minute walk away.