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The Reichstag Berlin


The home of the German parliament has a very rich history. When the German Empire came into fruition, the Reichstag parliament was born. During the 1890s parliament became permanently located in Berlin where it continues to be today.

After the first World War, the Kingdom of Prussia fell and the free state of Prussia became a part of the Weimar Republic (essentially the German state before Germany became what it is today). In 1918 after the fall of the Prussian Kingdom, the now Weimar Republic created the Weimar Constitution and elected a Chancellor to serve office.

All the economic sanctions put onto the Weimar Republic post war led to a massive depression, with a surge of unemployment occurring in the 1930s. In 1933 the then President (Hindenburg) of the Weimar Republic, in a bid to help improve the economic crisis, was pressured to make Adolph Hitler Chancellor.

Hindenburg did not bring Hitler in out of choice. He promised that if he won the election, he would allow Hitler some say in the Weimar Government. Hindenburg duly won the election and made Hitler Chancellor. Hitler was not a particularly popular figure at this point and within one month of him being Chancellor, the Reichstag building was burned down in an arson attack. Hitler and the Nazi party used this as a tool for change (as the arson attack was performed by a foreigner), bringing about the Reichstag Fire Decree in response to the attack. The decree scrapped some of the important human rights of German citizens (freedom of speech, private communication and freedom of expression etc). Since the Nazis were in a powerful position in the German government, the decree was used to legally justify the imprisonment of anyone deemed to be a threat to the Nazi philosophy. This helped the Nazi party gain power in the Weimar Republic. They further strengthened this power by creating the 1933 Enabling Act. This act gave the Chancellor (Hitler) the power to enact laws without informing the Reichstag parliament. These two laws turned the government into a Nazi party dictatorship.

The Reichstag building itself was left unused after the fire and was not fully restored until after East and West Germany were unified. Norman Foster designed the new building, still referred to as the Reichstag but inside now meets the Bundestag; the modern parliament. Foster created the large glass dome at the top of the building, giving panoramic views of the city whilst also filling the parliamentary debating room with beams of natural light.

The view from the top of the Reichstag is breath taking, even before you reach the top of the dome. With Brandenburger Tor in the foreground, views can stretch for miles to Alexanderplatz, Museum Island and beyond. One can even stop and have a drink at the top with a café providing coffees and a bite to eat.

To visit the parliament you must register online first as they cannot accept entries on the day without registration. It is free to visit and there is an audio tour available. To register visit the Bundestag's website.

#Germany #Berlin #History

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