top of page
  • Writer's pictureMatti Geyer

The Ultimate Guide to Berlin's Golden Twenties Sights

Updated: Jul 1

Welcome to the ultimate guide to exploring the remnants of Berlin's Golden Twenties! Step back in time to an era of unprecedented cultural vibrancy, artistic innovation, and social liberation. In this guide, I'll delve into the landmarks, neighborhoods, and hidden gems that capture the essence of this transformative period in Berlin's history.


The Golden Twenties, or the Roaring Twenties, marked a remarkable chapter in Berlin's evolution. Emerging from the ashes of World War I, the city experienced a resurgence characterized by economic prosperity, cultural flourishing, and a spirit of newfound freedom. From avant-garde art movements to groundbreaking scientific discoveries, Berlin pulsated with creativity and energy, attracting intellectuals, artists, and visionaries from across the globe.


However, the echoes of this golden age are tinged with the shadows of a darker reality. The rise of the Nazi Party in the late 1920s and early 1930s cast a pall over Berlin's vibrant cultural scene. With the ascent of Adolf Hitler to power in 1933, the freedoms and liberties enjoyed during the Golden Twenties were swiftly eroded. The Nazis' oppressive regime targeted artists, intellectuals, and minorities, extinguishing the creative spirit that once defined Berlin.


Today, while much of Berlin's Golden Twenties architecture and landmarks have been lost to the ravages of time and war, traces of this influential era still linger amidst the city's streets. Join me as I embark on a journey to uncover the vestiges of this bygone era, celebrating the resilience of Berlin's cultural heritage and the enduring legacy of the Golden Twenties. And make sure to watch the TV series Babylon Berlin!


Content:


1. Places of Entertainment


Clärchens Ballhaus

Clärchens Ballhaus, established in 1913, stands perhaps as the best and most cherished relic of Berlin's Golden Twenties. Originally founded by Clara Bühler as a dance hall for the working class, Clärchens Ballhaus quickly became a hotspot for social gatherings, dance soirées, and lively entertainment. Throughout the 1920s, the venue thrived as a hub of artistic expression, attracting a diverse array of patrons, from bohemian artists to high society elites. Despite enduring the tumult of history, from the rise of the Nazis to the ravages of World War II, it remains a symbol of resilience. Today, visitors are transported back in time as they step through its doors, greeted by vintage décor and live music, experiencing the timeless allure of Berlin's vibrant past.


Ballhaus Berlin

At Ballhaus Berlin, located at Chausseestraße 102, the ambiance of the Golden Twenties is brought to life with a unique touch: table telephones. These relics from a bygone era add a nostalgic charm to the dining experience, allowing guests to summon service with a simple ring, evoking the spirit of the lively soirées and elegant gatherings that once graced Berlin's social scene. Plus: One could flirt by phone with someone at another table. Amidst the vintage décor and live music, the presence of these table telephones serves as a delightful reminder of the venue's rich history and enduring allure.


Ballhaus Wedding

Ballhaus Wedding, ensconced in Berlin's Gesundbrunnen district, embodies the vivacity of the city's 1920s cultural zenith. Originating as a part of a restaurant in the late 19th century, it flourished as a hub of entertainment during the Weimar Republic era, hosting lively dance and amusement gatherings. Despite a decline post-World War II, its resurgence in the early 2020s revitalized its role as a cultural beacon. Now, reopened with fervor, it invites patrons to relive the spirit of the Roaring Twenties through a diverse array of events, resonating with the echoes of a bygone era amidst contemporary vibrancy, in the heart of Berlin.


Renaissance Theater

The Renaissance Theater in Charlottenburg stands as Europe's sole surviving Art Deco theater, exuding a cozy elegance with its sophisticated fabric wallpaper and patterned wall paneling. Originally a cinema in 1919, it was transformed into a theater in 1922 and expanded by theater architect Oskar Kaufmann in 1927, preserving its glamour to this day. Remaining true to its 1920s roots, the theater hosts readings and solo performances by notable authors such as Erich Kästner and Irmgard Keun. It has also caught the attention of "Babylon Berlin" creators, featuring in the series as a cinema, alongside other intriguing filming locations.

(C) A.Savin, Wikipedia


Schaubühne

The Schaubühne, located in the Erich Mendelsohn-designed building at Lehniner Platz, was originally a cinema when it opened in 1928, epitomizing the spirit of Modernism, particularly the New Objectivity movement of the 1920s. This forward-thinking ethos continues to shape the theater's programming, with occasional nods to the enduring relevance of the past. While it's uncertain if Kästner himself sat in the cinema, he frequented Café Leon across the street, part of the same complex that housed the cabaret venue where he wrote. The Schaubühne stands as a living testament to Berlin's cabaret tradition, and its juxtaposition with the adjacent Renaissance Theater is marked by a distinctive red curtain, preserving the cultural legacy of the 1920s in the heart of Berlin.


Delphi Cinema

The Delphi Silent Film Cinema, situated in Berlin's Weißensee neighborhood, stands as a testament to the golden age of cinema. Built in 1929, it served as a prominent venue for film screenings until its closure in 1959 due to structural issues. Despite years of neglect, a new owner emerged in 2016, financing extensive renovations and repurposing the space as a cultural hub. Reopened in December 2017, the Delphi now hosts a diverse array of events, ranging from operatic performances to theater productions, embodying a vibrant resurgence of its storied past. It now captivates fans of "Babylon Berlin" as the iconix Moka Efti nightclub.


Babylon Cinema

The Babylon cinema in Berlin's Mitte district offers a unique experience in its original 1920s ambiance. With a passion for the era, it warmly welcomes silent film enthusiasts with free admission and live music on the cinema organ. At midnight on weekends, crowds flock to experience authentic Berlin nightlife, reminiscent of the cinema's opening in 1929. Designed by architect Hans Poelzig, the Babylon is part of a historic building complex at Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, opposite the Volksbühne. Although extensively renovated and reconstructed from 1999 to 2001, the Babylon retains its architectural charm and cultural significance. Today, it serves as a hub for film screenings, cultural events, and even public lectures by renowned experts, continuing to celebrate the rich cinematic heritage of the 1920s.


Kino Toni

In the vibrant 1920s the Toni cinema in Weissensee emerged as a beacon of entertainment, opening its doors in September 1920 as the Decla-Lichtspiele. With 700 seats, it quickly became a popular destination for silent film enthusiasts. Transitioning to sound film technology, it was rebranded as the UFA-Theater until the end of the war, witnessing a dynamic era of cinematic innovation and cultural exchange.


Moviemento

Moviemento is a cinema located on Kottbusser Damm in Berlin-Kreuzberg. Established in 1907 by restaurateur Alfred Topp as a Kinematographen-Theater, it stands as one of Berlin's and Germany's oldest continuously operating cinemas. Originally known as "Topps Kino," it gained fame for its unique mirrored projection system due to the building's layout, which divided the space into two theaters connected by a transparent screen. Over the years, the cinema underwent several name changes before becoming Moviemento in 1984.


Admiralspalast

The Admiralspalast in Berlin, located on Friedrichstraße, has been a prominent venue since its opening in 1911. Initially built as a leisure complex with luxury baths and an ice rink, it later transformed into a variety theater known for its extravagant revues during the 1920s. Under the direction of Herman Haller, the theater hosted famous revues like "Drunter und Drüber," featuring music by Walter Kollo. During the Nazi era, the theater underwent significant renovations to conform to the regime's aesthetic preferences. After World War II, it became a venue for political and cultural events, including the founding convention of the Socialist Unity Party (SED). Over the years, it has housed various theaters and performance spaces, and since its renovation in 2006, it continues to host a diverse range of events, including concerts, theater productions, and political gatherings.

Pedelecs by Wikivoyage and Wikipedia


Berliner Ensemble (Theater am Schiffbauerdamm)

The Theater am Schiffbauerdamm, located in Berlin-Mitte, is renowned for its rich history and iconic performances. Originally opened in 1892, it has seen a variety of productions, from populist plays to groundbreaking premieres. In 1928, it made history with the premiere of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill's "The Threepenny Opera." Renamed the Deutsches Nationaltheater am Schiffbauerdamm in 1931, it became the home of the Berliner Ensemble in 1954. Architecturally, its neobaroque design by Heinrich Seeling remains a landmark. Seeing "Mack the Knife" performed here today is as 1920s as it gets!


Filmstudio Babelsberg

Filmstudio Babelsberg, located in Potsdam, stands as the second-oldest major film studio globally and the largest in Europe. Established on February 12, 1912, it has been a hub for renowned filmmakers since its inception. Notable works like "Metropolis" and "The Blue Angel," featuring the legendary Marlene Dietrich, emerged from its stages in the 1920s. Directors like Fritz Lang and Josef von Sternberg, who collaborated closely with Dietrich, shaped its golden era, contributing to the birth of German expressionist cinema. Despite the tumult of the Nazi era, which saw propaganda films like "Jud Süß," Babelsberg continued its legacy post-war, producing over 700 films during East Germany's DEFA era. The studio's privatization in 1990 marked a new chapter, attracting international productions like "Inglourious Basterds" and "Cloud Atlas." Recent advancements include Europe's largest virtual production stage, reflecting Babelsberg's enduring significance in global cinema.


Kurfürstendamm

In the 1920s, Kurfürstendamm, known as Ku'damm, was the epicenter of Berlin's cultural and social scene. Lined with chic boutiques, lively cafes, and avant-garde theaters, it epitomized the Weimar Republic's dynamism. The iconic Hotel am Zoo and bustling Café Kranzler symbolized its cosmopolitan allure, attracting intellectuals and celebrities. Amidst the hedonism, Ku'damm also reflected profound social change, challenging traditional norms. Yet, beneath the surface, tensions brewed, foreshadowing the tumultuous events ahead.


Volksbühne

In the 1920s, the Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz stood as a beacon of radical theater and political engagement in Berlin. Located in the heart of the city, it became a rallying point for artists, intellectuals, and workers alike. Under the direction of Erwin Piscator, it pioneered epic theater, using innovative techniques to address pressing social issues. Productions like "The Good Soldier Schweik" and "Rasputin" captivated audiences with their bold critiques of authority and calls for social change. The Volksbühne's commitment to leftist ideals, coupled with its avant-garde spirit, made it a symbol of Weimar-era experimentation and activism. Yet, as political tensions heightened and economic instability grew, the theater faced increasing pressure from both the left and the right. Despite these challenges, its legacy as a bastion of artistic freedom and political dissent endured, shaping the cultural landscape of Berlin for decades to come.


Metropol

The Metropol in Berlin, originally the Neues Schauspielhaus, played a pivotal role in the cultural scene of the 1920s and 1930s. Under Erwin Piscator's direction, it became a hub for avant-garde theater, featuring innovative stage techniques and collaborations with renowned artists like Bertolt Brecht and George Grosz. However, during the rise of the National Socialist regime, the theater's programming shifted, eventually leading to the infamous incident surrounding the screening of "All Quiet on the Western Front," which faced vehement opposition from Nazi authorities. Despite subsequent transformations into a cinema and nightclub, the Metropol's legacy endures as a symbol of Berlin's rich cultural history.

A.Savin, Wikipedia


Astor building

The Astor building, originally constructed in 1895/96, housed the renowned Astor theater, which saw various transformations over the years. From 1921 to 1928, composer and pianist Rudolf Nelson established the Nelson Theater within its walls, where the legendary "Nelson Revues" were performed, including a memorable appearance by Josephine Baker in 1928. Later, in 1934, under Rudolf Möhring's direction, the ground-floor restaurant "Sanssouci" was merged with the first floor to create a cinema with 500 seats, giving rise to the Astor. Despite renovations in 1993, which reduced seating to 300 and enhanced the facade's historical charm, the theater eventually closed in 2002 due to rent increases. Over its long history, the Astor remained a beloved venue for cinema, even during the Second World War, and it was a regular host of the Berlinale's Retrospective section. After closure, the fashion chain Tommy Hilfiger took over the space.


Delphi Film Palace

The Delphi Film Palace at the Zoo, originally constructed by architect Bernhard Sehring in 1927/28 as a dance hall, stands today as one of Germany's most successful arthouse cinemas. Despite being bombed during the war, it was rebuilt under the stewardship of cinema operator Walter Jonigkeit, who took over the venue a decade later. Jonigkeit's innovative programming, including repertoire cinema concepts and creative promotional strategies, revitalized the Delphi. Notably, he personally intervened to save the theater from destruction during wartime.


Marble House

The Marmorhaus was named after its imposing 22-meter high facade made of white Silesian marble. Built in 1912/13 as a commercial building with a cinema, it boasted expressionist wall and ceiling paintings by César Klein, who also designed the colorful glass ceiling in the foyer adorned with leaf and fan motifs. The cinema, featuring a balcony, opened in spring 1913 and famously hosted the world premiere of "Das Kabinett des Dr. Caligari" in 1919. Changes in architectural taste led to renovations in 1927 and 1928, resulting in a more straightforward design. Post-war, it continued operating, but the Marmorhaus closed its doors for good in 2000, later housing a Zara store on its lower floors.


Wannsee Beach

Strandbad Wannsee, located on the eastern shore of the Großer Wannsee lake in Berlin, stands as one of Europe's largest inland open-air swimming facilities. In the 1920s, it emerged as a popular destination, offering respite and recreation to Berliners seeking relief from urban life. Established in 1907, it quickly gained fame as the "bathtub of Berlin," attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors annually. The visionary architect Martin Wagner's redesign in the late 1920s aimed to transform the facility into a modern "world city bath" adhering to the principles of Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity). However, due to financial constraints and the disapproval of the National Socialists, only half of Wagner's plans were realized. Today, it continues to offer a vast expanse of sandy beach, historical architecture, and recreational amenities, preserving its legacy as a cherished retreat for generations of Berliners.


Weissensee film studios

In the bustling cultural landscape of 1920s Berlin, the Weissensee Studios in the suburb of Weißensee stood as an emblem of cinematic innovation. Nestled at 5-7 Franz Josef-Straße, these studios were the birthplace of cinematic marvels, hosting esteemed film production companies like Deutsche Vitascope and Ufa. It was within these hallowed halls that cinematic history was made, notably with the creation of the iconic silent film "Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari" ("The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari") in 1919 and 1920. Directed by Robert Wiene, this expressionist masterpiece is hailed as one of the most influential films of the silent era, renowned for its groundbreaking visual style and psychological depth. As the eerie sets of "Caligari" took shape within the studios' confines, they bore witness to the birth of a cinematic landmark that continues to captivate audiences and inspire filmmakers to this day. Despite the passage of time, the legacy of the Weissensee Studios endures, with some buildings still standing, serving as a poignant reminder of the golden age of silent cinema and the enduring power of artistic expression.


Titania Palast

The Titania-Palast in Berlin stands as a testament to the cultural and architectural vibrancy of the 1920s. Its grand opening on January 26, 1928, was a spectacle that captured the essence of Berlin's pre-war era. As a luxurious cinema, the Titania-Palast aimed to be significant not only for Steglitz but for all of Berlin. The opening ceremony, attended by stars of the era, symbolized the importance of this new cultural landmark. Architecturally, the Titania-Palast was a marvel of the Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity) style. Designed by architects Schöffler, Schlönbach & Jacobi, its cuboid structure with almost completely unadorned facade was a sensation at the time. The building, resembling American models, featured a concert hall and a theater stage, showcasing its versatility. The tall, illuminated tower further accentuated its presence, making it a beacon of modernity and entertainment in the bustling streets of 1920s Berlin.


Kaisereck (Heaven and Hell)

Located on Kurfürstendamm, opposite the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, the glamorous "Himmel und Hölle" was a hotspot for Berlin's elite nightlife, attracting politicians, heirs, playboys, and divas. The venue featured two themed restaurants—the light blue "Heaven" and the red-tinged "Hell"—with cuisine serving as a prelude to an erotic midnight cabaret show. Choreographed by Madeleine Nervi, up to 50 performers presented sophisticated nude revues, accessible only to the affluent. This venue was housed in the Kaisereck building at Kurfürstendamm 237. Built between 1913 and 1914 by Emil Schaudt in a restrained neo-Romanesque style, the round building with a hipped roof featured a monumental staircase and was originally home to shops, a restaurant, and the Michels Silk House offices. Rebuilt in 1954 after wartime damage, the building was simplified and later included two glass-enclosed floors added in 1998.


2. 1920s Architecture


Villa Lemke

In the 1920s, Weißensee saw the realization of architectural innovation when the Lemke couple commissioned Bauhaus luminary Mies van der Rohe to design their home. Completed in 1933, the simple flat-roofed structure with red brick façade and 160 square meters of space epitomized the ideals of the New Architecture movement. Situated by the Obersee, it stands as van der Rohe's final residential project in Germany before his emigration to the United States in 1938. Today, the Lemke Villa stands as a testament to Modernist design, welcoming visitors to experience its sunlit spaces and contributing to the legacy of Bauhaus architects in Berlin.


Stadtbad Mitte

In the 1920s, the concept of the New Architecture extended its reach to include the common folk, exemplified by the impressive realization of the 'Light, Air, and Sun' motto at the Stadtbad Mitte in 1930. Despite its unassuming exterior, this facility boasts a vast glass structure housing a swimming pool within. Its tranquil atmosphere makes swimming a pleasure, transcending the mere need for physical fitness, as was typical of the era. Exploring the rich history of Berlin's bathing culture adds depth to one's understanding of the city's aquatic heritage.


Funkturm

The Berlin Funkturm, erected in the 1920s, stands as a testament to architectural innovation and engineering prowess. Completed in 1926, this iconic tower offers panoramic views of Berlin from its impressive height of 55 meters. Renowned figures like Marlene Dietrich and Virginia Woolf have admired the cityscape from its restaurant, making it a cherished landmark. Today, the Funkturm continues to attract visitors, providing a glimpse into the city's rich history and offering unparalleled vistas of Berlin's urban landscape.


Shell House

The Shell-Haus, situated on the banks of the Landwehrkanal, captivates with its bright, gently curved facade and elongated ribbon windows. Constructed in the early 1930s by architect Emil Fahrenkamp, this 5- to 10-story steel-framed building stands as a remarkable example of the New Objectivity architectural style and one of the most significant office buildings of the Weimar Republic. Following extensive renovations, the building now gleams in its original white brilliance.


Haus des Rundfunks

The House of Broadcasting, built between 1929 and 1931 by the renowned architect Hans Poelzig, stands as an iconic symbol of the era's architectural expressionism. Originally intended as the headquarters for the Berlin Radio, this remarkable structure embodies the bold and avant-garde design principles of the time. With its striking facade and innovative architectural elements, the building reflects the artistic and technological advancements of the early 20th century, making it a significant landmark in the history of broadcasting and architecture alike.


Siemensstadt

The Siemensstadt housing estate, designed by various architects between 1929 and 1931, stands as a remarkable example of social housing construction in the 1920s. This expansive settlement, located in Berlin, was conceived as a modern urban community to accommodate the growing population and address housing shortages. Its design principles, influenced by the Bauhaus movement and functionalist architecture, aimed to provide residents with affordable yet high-quality living spaces. With its innovative approach to urban planning and emphasis on communal amenities, Siemensstadt remains an enduring symbol of progressive urban development from the interwar period.


The Dutch Quarter in Berlin-Weissensee

In Berlin-Weissensee, the Dutch Quarter stands as a testament to urban planning innovation. Designed by architect Carl-James Bühring in the early 20th century, this neighborhood, also known as the "Munizipalviertel," aimed to encapsulate all urban functions within its boundaries. Around 1907, Bühring orchestrated the construction of essential community buildings, such as schools, a city hall (unfortunately destroyed during World War II), a library, a bakery, and administrative offices, around the central square known as the Kreuzpfuhl. The architectural style, reminiscent of the Märkisch brick style, showcased Bühring's holistic approach to urban design, emphasizing both functionality and aesthetic appeal. In the 1920s an actual Dutch Quarter was added by architect Joseph Tiedemann. Adding to its historical significance, it served as a shooting location for the acclaimed series "Babylon Berlin".


Hufeisensiedlung

Hufeisensiedlung, or the "Horseshoe Estate," stands as a testament to modernist architecture and social housing in Berlin. Designed by architect Bruno Taut in the 1920s, it was constructed as part of the city's response to the urgent need for affordable housing. The estate, completed in 1925-1933, comprises over a thousand residential units characterized by their horseshoe-shaped layout, which maximized sunlight and green space for residents. Taut's innovative use of color, flat roofs, and communal gardens aimed to foster a sense of community and quality of life for working-class families. The Hufeisensiedlung remains a cherished example of early modernist urban planning, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2008, and continues to inspire architects and urban planners worldwide.


Siedlung Schillerpark

The Schillerpark Settlement in Berlin-Wedding, part of UNESCO's World Heritage, was designed by Bruno Taut in the 1920s, resembling a Dutch quarter. With red brick facades reminiscent of the Amsterdam School, it's a prime example of "New Building" style. Despite WWII damage, it was reconstructed in the 1950s by Max Taut and expanded by Hans Hoffmann, maintaining its historic charm. Renovated in 1991, it stands as a testament to early urban housing initiatives.


Weiße Stadt

The settlement in Reinickendorf, built between 1929 and 1931, was one of the most significant construction projects of the 1920s in Berlin. Due to its radiant light color, it soon came to be known as "The White City." It is also part of the UNESCO World Heritage site, representing one of the largest and most important settlements of that era in the city.


Wohnstadt Carl Legien

The Carl Legien Housing Estate was built in 1928, providing workers with affordable, bright, and green living spaces. Located in Prenzlauer Berg, it is one of the five Bauhaus settlements designated as UNESCO World Heritage sites, reflecting its significance in providing housing solutions and contributing to architectural heritage.


Parrot Estate

The Waldsiedlung Zehlendorf, constructed between 1926 and 1932, stands as another architectural masterpiece by Bruno Taut, embodying the typical Bauhaus style. Dubbed the "Parrot Estate" due to its vibrant colors, it surrounds the U-Bahn station Onkel Toms Hütte. This residential development represents Taut's innovative approach to housing design, blending functionality with aesthetic appeal, and is recognized for its architectural significance.


Bruno Taut House Weissensee

In Weißensee, near Buschkrugallee, stands a lesser-known gem of Bruno Taut's architectural legacy: the residential complex on Trierer Straße. Commissioned in the mid-1920s, Taut designed these buildings to be simple yet eye-catching. Horizontal brick bands and mullioned windows adorn the otherwise plain structures, while projecting staircases, loggias, and balconies break up the smooth surfaces. However, what truly distinguishes these blocks are their vibrant colors: each floor is marked with blue, rust-red, or cream-white hues, reminiscent of the expressive paintings of Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, who inspired Taut's color scheme. Unfortunately, the National Socialists deemed Taut's palette too bold, covering the colors with dull grey plaster in 1938. It wasn't until the 1990s, thanks to the German Foundation for Monument Protection, that the buildings were restored to their original colorful design, adding a vibrant touch to Berlin's residential landscape. There's more of his Bauhaus buildings on Buschallee street around the corner.


Siedlung Vaterland Potsdam

The Vaterland settlement in Bornstedt, Potsdam, stands as a testament to cooperative efforts to address housing shortages, initiated by the Gemeinnütziger Beamten-Siedlungsverein Vaterland in the 1920s. Led by government architect Georg Fritsch, the project aimed to counteract the stagnation in private construction following World War I. Built between 1924 and 1926, the settlement reflects the architectural ideals of the time, influenced by Bruno Taut's advocacy for "colorful construction" to combat monotony. Confiscated by the Soviets after the war and repurposed for officer housing, it was returned to its original cooperative ownership in 1991 after renovation, once again serving the needs of cooperative members.


Hermannplatz Station

U-Bahnhof Hermannplatz, located in Berlin's Neukölln district, is a significant example of 1920s architecture. Opened in 1926 (U7 line) and 1927 (U8 line), this station was designed by Alfred Grenander and Alfred Fehse as a double-level station with a striking Art Deco style. Noteworthy for its grandeur, the lower platform of the U7 features a spacious hall intersected by the U8 platform, which is directly beneath the street level. The station's original design included direct access to the Karstadt department store and was among the first in Berlin to feature escalators. Many of the station’s architectural elements, including the Art Deco pillars and tilework, remain from the original construction, preserving the historic atmosphere of Berlin’s 1920s U-Bahn system.


Wannsee Station

Berlin-Wannsee Railway Station, located in the Wannsee district of Berlin near the Great Wannsee Lake, stands as a vital transportation hub with historical significance. It served as a pivotal point in the 1920s, witnessing transformative developments in Berlin's transportation network. Originally opened on June 1, 1874, as part of the Wannsee Railway connecting Zehlendorf to Griebnitzsee, the station underwent significant expansions and electrification during the interwar period. The construction of a new reception building from 1927 to 1928, designed by Richard Brademann, symbolized the era's focus on modernization and mass transit. Electrification efforts, initiated in 1928, brought electric train services to Potsdam and Stahnsdorf, contributing to Berlin's growing commuter network. The station's strategic location facilitated travel towards Grunewald, Zehlendorf, Dessau, and Potsdam, reflecting Berlin's bustling urbanization and expanding suburbs during the 1920s.


Doppelvilla

The Doppelvilla, an architectural landmark constructed in 1921/22 by Erich Mendelsohn, who initially also served as the builder of one half of the villa. This structure features a cubic design with a flat roof and a diagonally symmetrical layout for the two halves facing the Karolingerplatz, each with identical floor plans. The lower part of the house is plastered, while the upper part is clad in textured brick, adorned with plaster bands and corner-placed windows. Today, it serves as a multi-family dwelling.


ADGB House

The Bundeshaus des Allgemeinen Deutschen Gewerkschaftsbundes, designed by Max Taut in the 1920s, stands as a significant architectural emblem at Wallstraße 61–65, cornering Inselstraße in Berlin. Max Taut, alongside Franz Hoffmann, spearheaded the innovative design, marking it as Germany's first steel-frame construction and embodying the essence of Neue Sachlichkeit with expressive detailing. Featuring six stories with stepped levels, the building housed offices, meeting halls, residential quarters, and commercial spaces. The architectural marvel endured various phases of utilization, serving different purposes throughout its history, including occupation during the Nazi regime and subsequent repurposing during the DDR era. Today, after extensive renovations, the complex hosts diverse tenants, symbolizing a legacy of resilience and adaptability in Berlin's architectural narrative.


Mossehaus

The Mossehaus, located in Berlin-Mitte at Schützenstraße 25–32, stands as a testament to the city's architectural heritage. Initially constructed between 1901 and 1903 under the direction of architects Wilhelm Cremer and Richard Wolffenstein for Rudolf Mosse, former publisher of the Berliner Tageblatt, the building underwent a significant transformation in the early 1920s. Architect Erich Mendelsohn, alongside Richard Neutra, spearheaded its renovation, ushering in the era of Streamline Moderne architecture. The redesigned Mossehaus, characterized by additional floors and a revamped corner facade, showcased the emerging aesthetic of Neue Sachlichkeit. Despite facing wartime destruction and subsequent reconstructions, the Mossehaus endures as a symbol of Berlin's architectural evolution, embodying the resilience and adaptability of the city's built environment across different historical epochs.


Borsig Tower

The Borsigturm, situated on the grounds of the Borsigwerke in Berlin-Tegel, stands as an emblem of Berlin's architectural innovation during the 1920s. Constructed between 1922 and 1924, it represents the city's first venture into high-rise architecture. Designed by architect Eugen Schmohl, the tower stands 65 meters tall and boasts a distinctive blend of functionalism and representational aesthetics. Serving as the administrative hub for the Borsig-Werke, Europe's largest locomotive manufacturer at the time, the Borsigturm embodied the spirit of industrial progress. Its innovative design, characterized by a steel skeleton structure and brick facade, allowed for flexible office layouts and marked a departure from traditional architectural norms.


Ullsteinhaus

The Ullsteinhaus, built between 1925 and 1927 in Berlin-Tempelhof, stands as a hallmark of brick expressionism. Designed by Eugen Schmohl, it was initially the headquarters and printing site for the Ullstein publishing company. Despite Nazi confiscation in 1934, it retained its significance, serving as the "Deutsches Haus" until 1945. Over the years, it evolved into a mixed-use complex, now housing various businesses, medical facilities, and even a museum. Today, it continues to be a prominent landmark, reflecting the architectural and historical heritage of its era.


Siemens High-Rise

The Schaltwerk-Hochhaus, erected in 1928 by Siemens, stands as a pioneering marvel in industrial architecture. Designed by architect Hans Hertlein, it became Europe's first factory high-rise, towering 45 meters high with eleven floors. Its sleek design and flexible interior spaces set new standards, making it a prototype for subsequent industrial buildings. Featuring a steel skeleton and a facade of brick cladding, its spacious interiors could serve as production facilities, warehouses, or offices, showcasing innovative versatility. Initially housing Siemens' switchgear production from 1928 to 2002, it now accommodates offices and a training center, remaining a symbol of modernity and a protected heritage site since 1994.


Mies van der Rohe Houses in Wedding

The Mies van der Rohe Houses, designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in 1926/27, stand as a striking contrast to the surrounding architecture along the African Street in Wedding. Comprising three blocks of flats with a total of 88 apartments, plus a smaller block with a shop, these cubic structures feature flat roofs and three floors with an attic. Embodying the ethos of "Neues Bauen" (New Building), they aimed to address social housing issues with practical layouts and double-sided ventilation and lighting, eschewing ornate facades for minimalist design. Residents appreciate the thoughtful planning, with living rooms connected to kitchens, and easy access to green spaces like Goethe Park and Volkspark Rehberge. While reminiscent of Bauhaus architecture, these buildings are distinct, exemplifying the innovative spirit of the Weimar Republic's architectural vision.


Einstein Tower in Potsdam

The Einsteinturm, built from 1920 to 1922 in Potsdam's "Albert Einstein Science Park" on the Telegrafenberg, stands as a revolutionary observatory designed by architect Erich Mendelsohn. Named after the Nobel laureate physicist of 1921, Albert Einstein, the tower aimed to experimentally confirm Einstein's theory of relativity. Constructed primarily of reinforced concrete, it represents a pinnacle of expressionist architecture and was instrumental in advancing astrophysical research. Despite challenges with the building's mixed construction, including concrete and brickwork, ongoing renovations have preserved its historic significance. Today, it remains a vital center for solar research, with its observations contributing to our understanding of the sun's magnetic fields and solar activity. Additionally, the tower hosts digital exhibitions, providing insights into its architectural and scientific heritage.


Hohenzollernplatz Church

The Kirche am Hohenzollernplatz, an evangelical church in Berlin's Wilmersdorf district, stands as a testament to German expressionist architecture, exemplifying the spirit of the 1920s despite its completion in the 1930s. Designed by Ossip Klarwein and constructed from 1930 to 1934 under the direction of architect Fritz Höger, the church is renowned for its intricate expressionist features. Its striking concrete skeleton, adorned with spitzbogen (pointed arches) and a towering 66-meter-high conical tower, reflects the bold experimentation and artistic freedom characteristic of the interwar period.



E-Werk

During the 1920s, a period marked by innovation and cultural vibrancy, Berlin experienced a dynamic transformation in various sectors, including architecture and technology. The construction of the Abspannwerk Buchhändlerhof during this era exemplifies the city's pioneering spirit in both engineering and design. Constructed between 1926 and 1928, it symbolized the city's commitment to modernization and efficiency. Designed by architect Hans Müller, the building's innovative architecture reflected the expressive forms of the time while addressing the practical requirements of housing complex electrical equipment. The building's distinctive design, characterized by stacked layers of machinery and a prominent central tower, showcased the fusion of form and function—a hallmark of architectural innovation in the 1920s.


Expressionist Water Tower Jungfernheide

The water tower in Volkspark Jungfernheide, located between Heckerdamm and Kurt-Schumacher-Damm near the wildlife enclosure, was built in 1927 based on designs by Walter Helmcke. This 38-meter high expressionist brick structure sustained damage during World War II but remained intact and was restored in the 1980s. In 2012, a café was opened in connection with the nearby high ropes course, but it has since closed.


Jewish Girls School

Step into a piece of 1920s history at the Jüdische Mädchenschule in Berlin. Originally founded in 1835 and relocated to its iconic building on Auguststraße in 1930, this institution reflects the architectural elegance of the era with its design in the style of Neue Sachlichkeit. During the Weimar Republic's vibrant and transformative years, the school was a crucial educational and cultural hub. The 1920s saw a significant increase in the enrollment of Jewish students due to restrictive Nazi policies, making the school a bustling center of activity. Today, the building hosts a mix of galleries, a rooftop playground, and a restaurant, preserving the spirit of innovation and resilience that marked both its architectural and educational legacy.


3. Famous Faces of the 1920s


Marlene Dietrich's Birth House

Marie Magdalene Dietrich, born on December 27, 1901, at Sedanstraße 53 in Schöneberg, now called Leberstraße 65, experienced a childhood marked by frequent moves across Berlin. Her family initially resided in the front building's first floor, her father working as a police lieutenant on the ground floor. However, after her father's early demise in 1907, financial struggles prompted several relocations to Tiergarten and then Westend. Despite these upheavals, the city remembers its famous daughter with plaques and an information board at her birthplace. Marlene Dietrich stands as a symbol of Berlin's Golden Twenties, representing the era like no other Berliner. You can also visit her grave in Berlin!

OTFW, Berlin


Christopher Isherwood's House

Christopher Isherwood, the renowned English writer, lived at Nollendorfstraße 17 from March 1929 to January or February 1933. His novels "Goodbye to Berlin" and "Mr. Norris Changes Trains" draw from his experiences during this time, serving as the basis for the later musical "Cabaret." Isherwood immersed himself in Berlin's vibrant queer scene, contributing to the cultural tapestry of the city. Despite the incorrect dates on the memorial plaque, his time in Berlin left an indelible mark on his literary legacy and on the image of 1930s Berlin in the English-speaking world.


Where the Comedian Harmonists were founded

The Comedian Harmonists were a groundbreaking vocal ensemble that captured the hearts of audiences worldwide during the 1920s and early 1930s. Formed in 1927 in Berlin, Germany, by Harry Frommermann, Robert Biberti, Erwin Bootz, Erich Collin, Roman Cycowski, and Asparuch "Ari" Leschnikoff, the group blended intricate harmonies, witty arrangements, and comedic flair to create a unique musical experience. They toured extensively throughout Europe and beyond, delighting audiences with their infectious energy and musical versatility. However, their success was not without challenges. The rise of the Nazi regime in Germany led to the forced emigration of the group's three Jewish members in 1935, ultimately leading to the dissolution of the ensemble. Despite their premature end, the Comedian Harmonists left an indelible mark on the music world, inspiring countless vocal groups and leaving behind a legacy of innovation and artistry. Today, the memory of the Comedian Harmonists is honored with a commemorative plaque located at Stubenrauchstraße 47 in Friedenau, Berlin.


Claire Waldoff plaque

Claire Waldoff, known as the "Berolina of Chansons," was a pioneering figure in the cabaret and music scene of 1920s Berlin. Waldoff rose to prominence for her distinctive style, characterized by her deep, husky voice, witty lyrics, and charismatic stage presence. Throughout the 1920s, Waldoff captivated audiences with her bold performances, which often addressed social and political themes of the time with humor and satire. Her songs, infused with Berlin dialect and street slang, provided a snapshot of urban life in the vibrant and tumultuous Weimar era. Waldoff's legacy extends beyond her music; she was also a trailblazer for LGBTQ+ visibility, openly embracing her lesbian identity at a time when such expression was largely taboo. Her fearless authenticity and unapologetic self-expression made her an icon for generations to come. Today, Claire Waldoff is honored with a commemorative plaque located at her former residence, Regensburger Straße 33 in Berlin-Schöneberg.


Anita Berber plaque

Anita Berber was a groundbreaking figure in the world of dance and performance art during the vibrant cultural landscape of 1920s Berlin. Known for her avant-garde and provocative performances, Berber challenged societal norms with her daring choreography and uninhibited expression. From 1919 to 1928, Anita Berber called Zähringer Straße 13 in Berlin-Wilmersdorf her home. In this house, she honed her craft as both a dancer and an actress, pushing the boundaries of artistic expression with her bold and unconventional performances. Berber's legacy is commemorated by a brass plaque located to the right of the entrance of her former residence. Anita Berber's enduring influence on the performing arts, her fearless exploration of taboo subjects, and her unapologetic embrace of individuality continue to inspire artists and audiences alike, cementing her status as a cultural icon of the Weimar era and beyond.


Erich Kästner plaque

Erich Kästner (1899-1974) stands as a prominent figure of 1920s Berlin, known for his prolific contributions to literature and journalism. As a versatile writer, Kästner explored various genres, from poetry to novels, but he is perhaps best remembered for his beloved children's book, "Emil and the Detectives" (1929). This timeless tale of adventure and camaraderie captivated readers of all ages and continues to enchant audiences around the world. Today, Erich Kästner is honored with a commemorative plaque located at Prager Straße 6-10, though the original house no longer stands. This plaque serves as a reminder of Kästner's enduring literary legacy and his association with the bustling streets of Berlin during the interwar period.


Erich Maria Remarque Plaque

If you are looking to find the plaque commemorating Erich Maria Remarque in Berlin, it is located at Wittelsbacherstraße 5 in the district of Wilmersdorf. This plaque marks the house where Remarque lived until 1929 and wrote his famous anti-war novel "All Quiet on the Western Front" (»Im Westen nichts Neues«). The dark iron plaque is mounted about two meters high on the left side of the entrance and was unveiled on June 22, 1972.


Einstein House in Caputh

The Einstein House in Caputh, built in 1929, served as a summer residence for Albert Einstein, his wife Elsa, their two daughters, and a housekeeper from 1929 to 1932. Originally intended as a gift from the city of Berlin, Einstein opted to purchase a plot in Caputh after political disputes thwarted the gift. Designed by Konrad Wachsmann, the house is situated scenically on a slope overlooking Lake Templin. After the rise of the Nazis in 1933, the Einstein couple did not return to Germany, and their property was confiscated. The Einstein House was used temporarily as a kindergarten and residential house before being restored after World War II and utilized as a memorial site. Today, the Einstein Forum manages the property, serving as a venue for events and seminars while also providing accommodation for Einstein scholars.


Einstein's Berlin apartment

Albert Einstein, the renowned physicist and Nobel Prize laureate, resided for 16 years at 5 Haberlandstraße in Schöneberg, from 1917 to 1932. Amidst the tumult of his personal and professional life, Einstein's time in this apartment was marked by intense work, health struggles, and evolving relationships. After marrying Elsa in 1919, he moved into her spacious apartment, where he built a study in the attic for uninterrupted work. The building, however, was destroyed during the war, and today, a modest housing unit stands in its place at number 8. Yet, a tenant, living on the same floor, has adorned the balcony with a poster of Einstein and the iconic formula E=mc², while a glass stele on the lawn commemorates the significant chapter of Einstein's life in Schöneberg.


Remembering Magnus Hirschfeld

Magnus Hirschfeld, a pioneering figure in the first homosexual rights movement, founded the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee (WhK), the world's first organization advocating for homosexual equality, in 1897. In 1919, he established the Institute for Sexual Research in Berlin, symbolizing his lifelong dedication to LGBTQ+ rights. In Berlin, two notable memorials honor his legacy: the monument commemorating the first homosexual emancipation movement along the Spree River, inaugurated in 2017, and the memorial pillar near the House of World Cultures, unveiled in 1994. These landmarks stand as enduring tributes to Hirschfeld's profound impact on the struggle for sexual and gender diversity rights.


4. Museums


Museum Apartment Haselhorst

In the 1920s, amidst a surge in innovative architectural concepts aimed at creating affordable and social housing, the Reichsforschungssiedlung Haselhorst emerged as a notable example. Inspired by the vision of Reichstag delegate Marie-Elisabeth Lüders, the settlement embodied the ethos of "First the kitchen – then the facade!" Reflecting the era's aspirations, an apartment in the settlement's oldest block, meticulously restored in 2013/14, showcases original furnishings from the period. Terrazzo floors, wooden doors with original handles, and historical furniture evoke the lifestyle of the settlement's first tenants, offering visitors a glimpse into the past. This museum apartment, nestled in the heart of Haselhorst, provides a tangible link to the era when social housing was a beacon of hope for many.


Bröhan Museum

The Bröhan Museum in Charlottenburg, Berlin, is a testament to the passion of its founder, Karl H. Bröhan, who gifted his extensive collection of Jugendstil, Art déco, and Funktionalismus art to the city on his 60th birthday. Initially focused on 18th-century porcelain, Bröhan's interests shifted to the forgotten treasures of the Art Nouveau era, leading to the establishment of a private museum in the 1970s. Since its inauguration in 1983, the museum has continually evolved, showcasing its diverse collection through rotating exhibitions that highlight the richness of 20th-century art and design.


Georg Kolbe Museum

The Georg Kolbe Museum, nestled in the idyllic setting of the former atelier house of sculptor Georg Kolbe, stands as a testament to the Bauhaus-influenced architecture of the 1920s. It showcases a collection focused on Classical Modernism and Contemporary Art, alongside serving as a research center for modern sculpture. The museum's holdings include the legacy of Georg Kolbe himself, as well as works by other prominent artists of the early 20th century. The architecture, designed by Ernst Rentsch and Paul Linder, features two cubic buildings with brick facades and distinctive window bands surrounding a serene sculpture garden.


German Film Museum

The Deutsche Kinemathek - Museum für Film und Fernsehen chronicles over a century of German film history, from the early days of silent cinema to the digital age. Visitors can explore the rich tapestry of over 100 years of film and over 50 years of television history, from the pioneering silent films to the groundbreaking color productions of the 1920s. Among the highlights is the Marlene Dietrich Collection, featuring show costumes and personal belongings of the legendary actress. The museum also houses artifacts from renowned filmmakers like Fritz Lang and showcases seminal works such as "Metropolis." With its interactive displays, including a multimedia time tunnel and a spectacular mirrored hall, the museum invites guests to immerse themselves in the magic of film and television.


Zille Museum

Heinrich Zille, a prominent German illustrator and photographer, captured the essence of everyday life in late 19th and early 20th century Berlin through his works, which often depicted the city's working-class neighborhoods and characters with humor and empathy. His keen observation and affectionate portrayal of Berlin's residents earned him widespread recognition as one of the most important chroniclers of urban life in his time. The Zille-Museum, dedicated to preserving and showcasing Zille's art and legacy, provides visitors with insight into the social and cultural milieu of Berlin during the late 19th and early 20th centuries (including the 1920s). Through Zille's sketches, photographs, and other artifacts, the museum offers a glimpse into the vibrant and diverse world of old Berlin, immortalized through the eyes of one of its most celebrated artists.


Bauhaus Museum

The Bauhaus-Archiv Museum für Gestaltung, housed in a building designed by Walter Gropius, showcases the most extensive collection on the Bauhaus movement. Documenting its evolution and featuring works, lives, and contributions of renowned Bauhaus figures through various mediums like photographs, documents, furniture, sculptures, and paintings, visitors experience the breadth of this famous art school. While undergoing renovation and expansion since 2018, the museum operates temporarily as the Temporary Bauhaus-Archiv / Museum für Gestaltung in Knesebeckstraße 1, Charlottenburg. Additionally, "The Bauhaus View" provides insights into the museum's future and the ongoing construction progress.


Berlinische Galerie

The Berlinische Galerie stands as a testament to Berlin's rich artistic history, spanning from 1870 to the modern era. Within its walls, visitors encounter a diverse collection that captures the essence of Berlin's vibrant cultural scene, particularly during the tumultuous yet creatively explosive 1920s. Among its treasures are works by celebrated artists of the era, including Otto Dix, whose compelling piece "Der Dichter Iwar von Lücken" (1926) is a captivating portrayal of the period's zeitgeist. Through these artworks, the Berlinische Galerie offers a window into the dynamic and avant-garde spirit that defined Berlin during the Roaring Twenties, showcasing the city's enduring influence on the world of art.


Gay Museum

The Schwules Museum, established on December 6, 1985, has a mission to delve into and celebrate the rich histories, themes, and concepts encompassing lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual, and queer individuals across history, art, and culture. Stemming from the triumph of the 1984 exhibition "Eldorado – Homosexual Women and Men in Berlin 1850–1950" at the Berlin Museum, this institution has grown into a pivotal establishment. It serves as a platform for exploring the diverse experiences of LGBTQ+ communities through exhibitions, events, and archival endeavors. Notably, the museum's archive offers a wealth of information, including insights into queer life during the 1920s, making it an invaluable resource for scholars worldwide.


Käthe Kollwitz Museum

The Käthe Kollwitz Museum Berlin, founded in 1986, is dedicated to showcasing the works of Berlin artist Käthe Kollwitz. Its exhibition provided insights into Kollwitz's artistic journey, focusing on significant periods of her life and work, such as her time in Prenzlauer Berg during the 1920s. Through its exhibitions and permanent collection, the museum continues to honor the legacy of Käthe Kollwitz, highlighting her profound impact on art and society during the 1920s and beyond. (You can also find a plaque for her in her former neighborhood in Prenzlauer Berg, though her building no longer exists.)


Das Kleine Grosz Museum

Housed in a converted retro gas station, Das Kleine Grosz Museum in Berlin-Schöneberg is a fascinating tribute to the multifaceted German-American artist George Grosz. This modernized architectural icon from the 1950s, located in a neighborhood that greatly influenced Grosz, offers a glimpse into the life and works of the painter, graphic artist, satirist, and critic. Known for his sharp critique of societal issues, Grosz became a significant figure in the Berlin art scene of the 1920s. The museum not only showcases Grosz's art but also sparks critical discourse on societal challenges, making it a thought-provoking stop for any visitor.


5. Places that no longer exist


Eldorado

The Eldorado in Berlin, located at the corner of Motzstraße and Kalckreuthstraße, was once renowned as a hub of transvestite culture in the city before World War II. Operating from the early 1930s, it was frequented by both men and women, attracting writers, artists, and celebrities of the time. The Eldorado was immortalized in literature, painting, music, and film, reflecting its significance in the vibrant cultural landscape of pre-war Berlin. Today, the site of the Eldorado houses a branch of a major organic supermarket chain, with an information board and photos commemorating its colorful history.


Scala Information Board

The Scala in Berlin, operating from 1920 to 1944, stood as one of Germany's renowned variety theaters, showcasing international talents like Enrico Rastelli and Grock the Clown. Established in the former Ice Palace by a consortium of predominantly Jewish businessmen, including Karl Wolffsohn and Fokker, it thrived during the Roaring Twenties under the management of Jules Marx. Despite financial challenges during the Great Depression, it continued to flourish even after being taken over by non-Jewish owners following Hitler's rise to power. However, Joseph Goebbels' ban on non-military performances in August 1944 marked its demise. Although the building was largely destroyed in November 1943 and later demolished, an information board erected in July 2018 at Martin-Luther-Straße 14 commemorates the Scala's legacy and the expropriation of its Jewish proprietors.


Haus Vaterland

Haus Vaterland, once a bustling pleasure palace at Potsdamer Platz in Berlin from 1928 to 1943, welcomed around one million visitors annually with its innovative concept of presenting amusement park ideas in a city center setting. Under the direction of Leo Kronau, the building was transformed into a multifaceted entertainment venue, featuring various themed restaurants and bars, each evoking a different country's ambiance. However, following a devastating fire caused by an Allied air raid in 1943, the building's operations were severely restricted. With the end of the war, the building found itself in the Soviet sector, leading to the abandonment of the HO Gaststätte established inside in 1953. Ultimately, the structure was demolished in 1976, leaving no trace or information about its once vibrant existence.

Bundesarchiv Bild 102-13681


Moka Efti

Moka Efti, a renowned Berlin café and dance hall, was established by the Greek-Italian entrepreneur Giánnis "Giovanni" Eftimiades in March 1926. The original Moka Efti was located at the corner of Leipziger Straße and Friedrichstraße. The name "Moka Efti" combined 'Moka', referring to Greek coffee, and the first syllables of Eftimiades' last name. Eftimiades expanded his venture in April 1929 by acquiring and transforming the Equitable Palace, an 1880s building designed by Carl Schäfer, into a new, larger Moka Efti. This establishment covered 2,800 square meters and included a café, a dance hall, a fish restaurant, a barber shop, a billiard salon (Café Kerkau), a stenography service, and a chess hall led by Rudolf Elstner. To enhance accessibility, an escalator was installed. Moka Efti quickly became Berlin's most successful café, serving 25,000 cups of coffee daily. At night, it turned into the city's most popular dance hall, embodying the vibrant nightlife of the 1920s. The establishment continued to thrive, solidifying its reputation as a cultural and social hub in Berlin during the Weimar Republic.


Lunapark

Lunapark, located by Halensee in Berlin, was a premier amusement park that thrived particularly in the 1920s, offering a dazzling array of attractions and entertainment. Inspired by Coney Island's Luna Park, it featured thrilling rides like a water slide ending in the lake, a wave pool known as the "Nuttenaquarium," a shimmy staircase with a blower, and a mountain railway. Visitors could also enjoy a variety of shows, from theater and cabaret to jazz and boxing matches, including Max Schmeling's first title fight in 1926. With restaurants seating up to 16,000 guests, Lunapark drew up to 50,000 visitors daily. Despite its popularity, the park struggled during World War I and reopened in 1929 after renovations, but it never regained its former glory and closed in 1934, eventually being demolished to make way for Halenseestraße.


Karstadt Hermannplatz

The Karstadt at Hermannplatz is a landmark department store in Berlin's Kreuzberg district. Built from 1927 to 1929 in the expressionist style by Philipp Schaefer, it was Europe's largest and most modern department store at the time. Spanning 72,000 square meters, it featured cutting-edge amenities like escalators, elevators, and direct subway access, making it a popular attraction. In April 1945, it was destroyed by SS troops to hinder food supplies to the Red Army. Reconstruction began in 1951 but only reached the third floor. In 2019, plans were announced to restore its original height and façade.


Kakadu Bar

The Kakadu was a renowned Berlin bar located at the intersection of Kurfürstendamm, Joachimsthaler Straße, and Augsburger Straße. Founded around 1919, it became a significant hub during the Weimar Republic for artists, stars, business leaders, and the demi-monde. Known briefly as Berlin's largest bar, it was famed for its vibrant nightlife and luxurious ambiance. The Kakadu underwent several expansions and renovations, with a notable redesign in 1928 by architects Oskar Kaufmann and Richard Wolffenstein. Despite its popularity, it closed in early 1937, and the building was later destroyed during WWII. Today, the Allianz Tower stands in its place.


Resi

The Resi, or Residenz-Casino, was a legendary nightlife venue in 1920s Berlina. Known for its innovative and opulent design, the Resi featured individual tables equipped with telephones, allowing guests to call and chat with one another across the room. This unique concept, combined with lavish decor and lively entertainment, made the Resi a popular hotspot for socialites, artists, and the city's elite. The venue epitomized the vibrant, hedonistic spirit of Weimar Berlin before closing as the political climate shifted in the 1930s.


Mali and Ingel

The "Mali und Igel" bar, also known as "Monbijou des Westens," was a prominent lesbian club in 1920s Berlin, run by Amalie Rothaug (Mali) and Elsa Conrad (Igel). Located at Lutherstraße 16 (now Martin-Luther-Straße 2), it catered to an exclusive membership of intellectual women and artists. Despite its popularity, the Nazi regime forced its closure in 1933. Both women faced persecution; Conrad, denounced and imprisoned, eventually fled to East Africa before returning to Germany in 1961. Rothaug emigrated to the USA in 1936. Esteemed guests included actresses Marianne Hoppe and Marlene Dietrich, and the club maintained exclusivity by eschewing advertisements.


Cosy Corner

The "Cosy Corner," located at Zossenerstraße 7, was a not so secret gay bar during the 1920s Berlin era, frequented by Christopher Isherwood and introduced to him by Auden. Described by Isherwood in his memoir as plain and unpretentious, the bar's decor featured photographs of boxers and racing cyclists above the bar, and was heated by a large iron stove. This modest venue, known for its relaxed atmosphere, was a gathering place for working-class boys who would strip down to their shirts due to the heat, creating an intimate and inclusive environment. Today, the address is an unspectacular Altbau building.


Toppkeller

The Toppkeller was a prominent lesbian venue in Berlin from 1924 to 1930, located in Schöneberg's Schwerinstraße 13. Initially known as the "Westend-Ressource" and later "Gründers Festsäle," it became a well-known gathering spot for the lesbian community. The venue, run by figures like "Zigeunerlotte" and "Rheinische Käthe," hosted vibrant and permissive events, making it a cultural hub. The atmosphere was lively yet rundown, drawing a diverse crowd from intellectuals to working-class women, and occasionally men. Despite its popularity, the Toppkeller closed in 1930, leaving behind a legacy of inclusivity and freedom.


Hunde-Gustav

"Hundegustav," at Borsigstraße 29, was a haunt popular among a diverse crowd of misfits, thrill-seekers, and curious citizens. The establishment's owner, known as "Hunde-Gustav," earned his moniker from his former profession as a dog catcher, fueled by rumors of his peculiar palate for canine cuisine. Emerging from the smoky, dimly lit vaults into the dawn's light often left patrons feeling as though they'd been run over by a bus. This seedy locale attracted not only the city's underbelly but also tourists seeking a taste of the wild side for a thrill.


Sing Sing

The "Sing Sing" bar, located at Berliner Chausseestraße 11, replicated the austere atmosphere of a prison dining hall, mimicking the style of Berlin's Plötzensee prison. Its name was inspired by the infamous Sing Sing prison in Ossining, New York. This establishment was one of the most notorious spots in Berlin's nightlife during the 1920s, attracting a diverse crowd of criminals, thrill-seekers, and curious onlookers. The bar operated with a prison-like ambiance, complete with a police officer acting as a bouncer and waitstaff dressed in convict uniforms. Patrons dined from metal dishes, adding to the illusion of being behind bars. Each night, around 2 to 3 a.m., a guest would be selected and staged an elaborate "execution" on a wooden chair resembling an electric chair, much to the amusement of the crowd, until closing time at 6 a.m. However, in 1933, with the rise of the Nazis, the era of such venues came to an end as authorities cracked down on establishments deemed to promote "immorality." The "Sing Sing" in Berlin was among those forced to close its doors.


6. Reviving the GoldenTwenties: New Spaces


Wintergarten

During the 1920s, the Wintergarten in Berlin thrived as a premier venue for variety entertainment. Under the direction of Ludwig Schuch, it underwent renovations, becoming one of Europe's largest and most modern theaters. The era saw extravagant shows featuring exuberant fashion, talented performers like Claire Waldoff and Otto Reutter, and innovative stage setups, including an orchestra in a sunken pit. Berlin became known as the international capital of pleasure, with the Wintergarten at its center. However, its success was cut short by a bombing raid in 1944, marking the end of its illustrious run during that era. A new Wintergarten opened on Potsdamer Straße in 1992, featuring international stars and extravagant galas, often in the style of the 1920s. There's also café which is descorated in the style of the golden 20s.


Nolle Restaurant

Nolle Restaurant, though opened in the 1970s, captures the essence of the 1920s with its concept and decor. Adorned with original kitsch and antiques, stepping into Nolle feels like entering a time capsule from the Roaring Twenties. It's one of the closest dining experiences you'll find to that iconic era.


Sally Bowles

Sally Bowles Bar pays homage to Berlin's most famous expat through its name and ambiance. Named after the iconic character from Christopher Isherwood's novel "Goodbye to Berlin," immortalized by Liza Minnelli in the film "Cabaret," the café/bar in Schöneberg's gay district captures the essence of the 1930s. By day, it's a quiet café offering German cuisine for lunch, but as evening falls, it transforms into a lively bar with live music. Known for its signature cocktails, patrons can enjoy swinging jazz, evoking the spirit of Berlin in the early 1930s.


Galander

The Galander in Berlin Charlottenburg, opened in 2013, has a fascinating history tied to its location at Stuttgarter Platz, once part of West Berlin's notorious red-light district. Previously housing the "Mon Cheri" bordello renowned for its extravagant parties, the Galander Bar now exudes the elegance of the Roaring Twenties. Dark wood, leather-clad bar stools, and plush seating create a refined ambiance reminiscent of the era, with décor elements from the Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles. The bar area showcases an array of premium spirits, expertly mixed into trendy Tiki drinks, classic cocktails, and innovative creations. They've since opened another bar in Kreuzberg, too!


Absinth Depot

Stepping into the Absinth Depot feels like stepping back in time, evoking the spirit of the 1920s amid Berlin's modern landscape. (Note that this place, like many others, only pretends to be from that era). With minimal seating, it's primarily a destination to purchase absinthe, but they also offer tasting experiences. Watching the owner pour samples adds to the authenticity of the experience, allowing you to explore different flavors with friends or partners. As you decide on bottles to take home, engaging with the owner reveals a wealth of knowledge and enhances the enjoyment of absinthe.


Wittenbergplatz Station

U-Bahnhof Wittenbergplatz, located in Berlin's Schöneberg district, is notable for its unique architecture and historical significance. Opened in 1902 and redesigned by Alfred Grenander in 1912, the station features five tracks served by the U1, U2, and U3 lines. The station’s entrance hall, reconstructed after World War II, was restored in the early 1980s to reflect its original grandeur. During this restoration, historical advertising paintings, created by East Berlin artist Lutz Brandt, were added, capturing the spirit of the 1920s with motifs inspired by vintage advertisements, enhancing the station's nostalgic charm.


Weiße Maus

The original Weisse Maus was one of Berlin's most notorious late-night spots during the Weimar era. Renowned for its exclusivity, this cabaret featured only 98 precious seats, and guests wore masks to hide their identities. The venue was famous for its raucous and debauched entertainment, hosting performances by the infamous Anita Berber and her dancers of the damned. Now, 100 years later, Die Weisse Maus pays homage to this era of creativity and artistry. Featuring Berlin's finest performance artists, chefs, musicians, and sommeliers, this immersive dining and supper club experience brings the decadent spirit of 1920s Berlin to life with bizarre, boundary-pushing performances and lavishly prepared food. This theatrical dining experience is strictly for adults only, inviting guests to join the beautiful creatures of Berlin's underworld in a hedonistic celebration. Open minds are a must!


Bohème Sauvage

Bohème Sauvage is a regular party night in Berlin that transports you back to the Roaring Twenties. Hosted at various locations across the city, this extravagant event celebrates the decadence and glamour of the 1920s. Dance to the Charleston, Swing, and Tango, sip on absinthe, and immerse yourself in an atmosphere inspired by the Belle Epoque, Berlin’s Wild Twenties, and America’s Swingin' Thirties. With its meticulously crafted ambiance and glamorous entertainment, Bohème Sauvage offers an unforgettable night of vintage revelry.

Heinrich von Schimmer


More 1920s locations in Berlin


Berlin's first traffic light

The traffic tower at Potsdamer Platz in Berlin was Germany's first traffic light, operational from December 15, 1924. Standing at 8.5 meters tall and weighing 5.5 tons, the tower featured five steel columns supporting a covered platform where a traffic officer controlled the lights with a lever switch. With its innovative design, the tower aimed to alleviate traffic congestion and accidents on one of Europe's busiest squares. It quickly became an icon of Berlin's modernity in the late 1920s.


Karl-Liebknecht-Haus

In the 1920s, the Karl-Liebknecht-Haus stood as a prominent symbol of socialist and communist activism in Berlin. Named after the revolutionary leader Karl Liebknecht, the building served as the headquarters of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD). Located on Bülowplatz (now Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz), it was a hub of political organizing, hosting meetings, rallies, and lectures aimed at advancing the socialist cause. During this time, the KPD, under the leadership of figures like Ernst Thälmann, sought to mobilize the working class against the growing threat of fascism and capitalist exploitation. The Karl-Liebknecht-Haus became a focal point for this resistance, embodying the spirit of proletarian solidarity and revolutionary fervor. It houses Germany's Left Party today.

Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-P046279


Hotel Funk

Hotel-Pension Funk in Berlin-Charlottenburg offers guests a journey back in time to the glamorous era of the Roaring Twenties. The guesthouse, located on the prestigious Fasanenstraße near the Kurfürstendamm, exudes the ambiance of poets, actors, and vibrant nightlife. Built in 1895, the boutique hotel boasts elements of Gründerzeit and Jugendstil architecture. Its 14 rooms and spacious breakfast room once served as the residence of Danish silent film star Asta Nielsen, a prominent figure in early 20th-century Berlin. Despite the hotel's transformation from Nielsen's home to a pension after the Nazi era, it retains much of its original charm, attracting international filmmakers and photographers seeking its authentic atmosphere for their projects.


Hotel am Steinplatz

Originally built as a residential building in 1906/1907 by architect August Endell, the Hotel am Steinplatz, located in Charlottenburg near the Zoologischer Garten station and Kurfürstendamm, opened its doors as a hotel in 1913. The hotel has a rich history, transitioning from a residential space to hosting a variety of guests in the 1920s, including Russian nobility and intellectuals post-October Revolution. However, after the death of owner Max Zellermayer in 1933, the hotel faced a shift in clientele during the National Socialist era. Notably, in 1949, Heinz Zellermayer successfully convinced the American Sector Commander Frank Howley to lift the curfew for Berlin. Berlin's party scene is still thankful for this.


Klosterstraße Station

U-Bahnhof Klosterstraße, opened on July 1, 1913, is a historically preserved station on Berlin's U2 line, located under Klosterstraße in the Mitte district near Alexanderplatz. Designed by Alfred Grenander, the station retains its 1920s charm with wide platforms, distinctive granite bands, and stylized palm decorations made from colorful glazed tiles. A notable feature is the historic Triebwagen 12 from 1910, placed at the northern end of the platform, offering a glimpse into Berlin's early underground transport history (including the 1920s).


KaDeWe

The Kaufhaus des Westens, commonly known as KaDeWe, is an iconic department store in Berlin that epitomized luxury and modernity in the 1920s. Opened in 1907, KaDeWe underwent significant expansion during the 1920s, reflecting the economic boom and vibrant cultural scene of the Weimar Republic. It became a symbol of opulence, offering a wide range of high-end goods, including fashion, gourmet foods, and household items. The store's elegant architecture, with its grand facade and sophisticated interior, attracted affluent shoppers from across Europe. KaDeWe's innovations, such as escalators and elaborate window displays, made it a pioneer in the retail industry, solidifying its status as a premier shopping destination during the roaring twenties.


Hotel Adlon

Hotel Adlon was the epitome of luxury and sophistication in the 1920s. Opened in 1907, the hotel quickly became a social hub and a symbol of the opulent lifestyle of the Weimar Republic era. The Golden Twenties brought golden times for the Adlon. During this period, it hosted a plethora of distinguished guests, including European royalty, Hollywood stars, and influential politicians. Charlie Chaplin famously lost his trouser buttons to the enthusiastic Berlin crowd on his way to the hotel, and Marlene Dietrich was discovered there. The Berlin Morgenpost wrote in 1929, "In the great hall of the hotel, one could hear the languages of all cultural nations buzzing together." Between 1925 and 1930, the Adlon welcomed nearly two million visitors, becoming a fixture in Berlin and a landmark in its own right. Its reputation for elegance and exclusivity made it a key fixture in Berlin's Golden Twenties, a period marked by cultural flourishing and economic prosperity.


Jandorf department store

The Warenhaus Jandorf, also known as the Warenhaus am Weinberg, was a prominent department store in Berlin-Mitte, opened in 1904 by Adolf Jandorf. Situated at the corner of Brunnenstraße and Veteranenstraße, it quickly became a key commercial hub. In 1927, the store became part of the Hermann Tietz department store chain. The new owners made significant changes, including closing the light court above the first floor with intermediate ceilings, leaving a large foyer. Despite these alterations, Warenhaus Jandorf remained a bustling retail center, reflecting the economic vibrancy and consumer culture of the Weimar Republic during the 1920s. The building's architecture, with its blend of functionality and decorative elements, such as the bee-emblazoned cartouches symbolizing diligence, and the geometric Jugendstil tracery on the upper windows, exemplified the era's architectural innovation and aesthetic sensibilities. This period marked a high point in the store's history, as it catered to the diverse and cosmopolitan population of Berlin, contributing to the lively commercial atmosphere of the city.


Klingenberg powerplant

The Kraftwerk Klingenberg, towering along the Köpenicker Chaussee in Lichtenberg, epitomizes the spirit of modernity and economic prowess of the 1920s. Constructed in 1927, it stood as Europe's most advanced power supplier, heralding a new era of power generation. This pioneering Berlin powerhouse, covering 65% of the city's electricity demand during the 1920s, introduced groundbreaking innovations such as pulverized coal combustion, facilitated by three large steam turbines. Connected to an 11-story administrative building via a cable bridge, the 190-meter-long switching station served as a hub of technological innovation. Surviving almost unscathed through World War II, it continued to play a crucial role in providing electricity and heat to East Berlin during the GDR era. Transitioning from lignite to natural gas in May 2017, the Kraftwerk Klingenberg remains an emblem of Berlin's industrial heritage while adapting to sustainable energy practices in its journey towards a carbon-neutral future.


The Nudist Area at Motzener See

Want to relive one of the most groundbreaking trends of the 1920s? Head to Motzener See and get naked. Why? Because this lake, just south of Berlin, was the birthplace of the German Freikörperkultur (FKK) movement. During the Weimar Republic, societal norms loosened, and naturism became increasingly popular, especially among the youth. Motzener See, with its pristine waters and picturesque Märchenwiese, became a hotspot for "Schwedisches Baden" (Swedish bathing). Embrace the spirit of the Roaring Twenties by stripping down and diving into the clear waters where Berlin's early naturists once frolicked.


AVUS

The Automobil-Verkehrs- und Übungsstraße (AVUS) in Berlin, opened in 1921, was one of the world's first automobile-only roads and a significant motor racing circuit in the 1920s. It stretched 19.569 km and featured two long straights connected by large-radius curves. In its early years, AVUS hosted numerous races, including the inaugural German Grand Prix in 1926, and was a testing ground for automotive advancements. The 1920s also saw the AVUS resurfaced with asphalt and used for innovative experiments like Fritz von Opel's 1928 rocket car speed record. The AVUS's unique design and early adoption of dedicated automobile infrastructure marked a significant step in the evolution of modern roadways and racing circuits.

59 views0 comments

Comments


bottom of page