Explore Berlin in 101 Objects

Explore Berlin In 101 Objects: Part II

Continuing our Explore Berlin in 101 Objects series, here is Part II - dealing with Objects 34 to 66. Our unique guide to Berlin dealing with the statues, the graves, the memorials, the token unique items buried in museums. Signifiers directly connecting experiences in the past with the present. Punctuation points in the greater story, in the form of treasures, artefacts, and relics...

This collection could have continued ad inifinitum – as there are certainly plenty of objects in Berlin that carry at lot more weight than can be measured with a metric or imperial system. 

Far from a definitive object-based guide to the entire city or the story of Berlin’s chequered history through its relics, this is an opportunity to connect the dots – and find stories, secrets, and intrigue embodied in physical form.

Note: Clicking ‘Find This Object On The Map’ under each entry will bring you back to the map above – by clicking the sidebar navigation you’ll get a list of all 101 objects and can explore by location.

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The Banana

34 | The Banana

Cologne artist Thomas Baumgärtel (aka the Banana Sprayer) has developed been spray painting bananas onto art venues and museums as a sign of approval and seal of quality since 1986. With around 4,000 cultural institutions worldwide inducted into his exclusive club, Baumgärtel has managed to elevate his Dadaist street action into an internationally recognised icon of the art scene. 

This instance can be found on the Sammlung Boros gallery, a former Nazi-era air raid shelter converted into an art gallery in the 1990s – although fittingly it also served during the East German times as a storage facility for exotic fruits – including bananas!

Address: Various Locations
Website: The Banana Sprayer

The 88mm Flak Canon in the German History Museum

35 | The 88mm Flak Canon

Part of the arsenal of weapons at the disposal of Berlin’s desperate defenders in April/May 1945, the 88mm Flak Canon was originally intended as an anti-aircraft weapon (FLugAbwehrKanone – FLAK). In the face of advancing tanks, however, it was often reappropriated as an anti-armour weapon. Considered one of the most effective weapons of the Second World War, the 88mm Flak Canon’s use in this dual role dated as far back as the Spanish Civil War – and it would eventually be adapted as the main battlegun of the Tiger I tank. 

This preserved example of an 88mm Flak 36 is now exhibited inside the German Historial Museum.

Address: Unter den Linden 2, 10117 Berlin
Website: Deutsches Historisches Museum

The Schwerbelastungskörper

36 | The Schwerbelastungskoerper

Doubts about the feasibility of Adolf Hitler’s plan to establish Berlin as the capital of the world – the Welthauptstadt Germania – led to the creation of this heavy load testing weight in the district of Schöneberg in 1941. Introduced to measure the level of ground subsidence, in preparation for the construction of a Truimphal Arch – intended to be three times larger than the Arc de Triomphe in Paris – the Schwerbelastungskörper embarrasingly revealed the need for expensive stabilisation measures to make the ground suitable for construction. 

This monstrous cyclinder remains a physical proof of the colossal and delirious vision of Hitler’s future capital.

Address: General-Pape-Straße 34a, 12101 Berlin
Website: The Schwerbelastungskörper

The Soviet Soldier in Treptower Park

37 | The Soviet Soldier

One of three major Soviet war memorials in Berlin, the Treptower Park memorial commerates 7,000 of the 80,000 soldiers who died in the Battle of Berlin in 1945. It features this 12-metre high statue of a Soviet soldier saving a child whilst triumphantly stood over a broken swastika, sword in hand. 

This piece is, in-fact, part of a triptych stretching back to the Russian industrial city of Magnitogorsk – with a statue of symbolising the forging of the sword (the Rear Front Memorial) – to Volgograd and a female figure raising the sword (The Motherland Calls), leading finally to Berlin with the soldier can be seen finally driving the sword into the ground.

Address: Treptower Park, 12435 Berlin
Website: None

The Gunter Litfin Watchtower

38 | The Guenter Litfin Tower

Günter Litfin’s death at the hands of East German transportation police while attempting to flee the country in 1961 set a dangerous new precedent. That the East German government would use deadly force to stop anyone from compromising the Berlin Wall. Litfin was shot and killed while attempting to swim across the Humboldt harbour to West Berlin on August 24th 1961 – he was a tailor by trade and had acquired a job in the British sector of the city. 

This watchtower was taken over by Litfin’s surviving brother in 2003 and opened as a memorial – to the first person murdered due to the Berlin Wall. Sadly at least another 138 people would join this list until 1989.

Address: Kieler Strasse 2, 10115 Berlin
Website: Gedenkstätte Günter Litfin

The Bridge of Spies

39 | The Bridge of Spies

A staple backdrop of any Berlin spy thriller, this iron bridge was constructed across the river Havel, served as a crossing point between the Soviet and US Cold War zones and would find fame due to a number of spy exchanges here – including that of U2 pilot Francis Gary Powers, for Soviet spy Rudolf Abel, back in 1962. Powers who had been shot down while on a top secret CIA espionage mission flying over the Soviet Union. 

Despite its nickname – there were only three exchanges that took place here, in 1962, in 1985, and in 1986 – with the bridge chosen as it was the only crossing between the East and West that fell completely under Soviet, and not East German control.

Address: Königstraße, 14467 Berlin
Website: None

The Japanese Cherry Blossoms at the Bösebrücke

40 | Japanese Cherry Trees

By following the Berlin Wall trail (the Berliner Mauerweg) it is now possible to walk, or bicycle, along the entire 160km of the former Berlin Wall and ‘death strip’. Visit in early spring and you’ll have the opportunity to see these beautiful cherry blossoms, planted at numerous locations along the Mauerweg in the 1990s following the so-called Sakura Campaign led by a Japanese television network (TV Asahi). 

Around 140 million yen (1€ million) was raised in donations from around 20,000 people and paid for 9,000 trees. The first were planted next to the Glienicke Brücke (the Bridge of Spies) although this avenue next to the Bösebrücke is perhaps the most famous location.

Address: Norwegerstraße, 10439 Berlin
Website: None

The Stauffenberg Memorial

41 | The Stauffenberg Memorial

The assassination attempt against Adolf Hitler on July 20th 1944 was largely coordinated by a group of German Army Reserve officers based at the Bendlerblock Headquarters in Berlin, which now houses the fantastic German Resistance Museum. The plan to mobilise the German Replacement Army to take control of German cities, disarm the SchutzStaffel (SS), and arrest the Nazi leadership once Hitler had been assassinated failed after assassin Claus von Stauffenberg’s unsuccessful attempt to kill Hitler with a bomb placed at his Wolf’s Lair hideout. 

This memorial statue in the courtyard marks the location where von Stauffenberg was executed by firing squad – less than 24 hours later.

Address: Stauffenbergstraße 13, 10785 Berlin
Website: German Resistance Memorial Center

The C46 at the Technical Museum

42 | The Candy Bomber

When Soviet leader, Joseph Stalin, attemped to starve West Berlin out of existence in 1948 – US, British, and French forces responded by undertaking the largest airlift ever carried out to import fuel, food, and supplies. The main workhorse of the US effort was the C47 Skytrain, nicknamed the ‘Candy Bomber’ due to the habit that some pilots had of tilting their wings on approach and dropping sweets to children gathered near the Tempelhof airport landing strip. 

The airlift would continue for more than a year while the Western Allies gathered enough supplies in the city to better weather any future storm the Soviets might inflict.

Address: Trebbiner Strasse 9, 10963 Berlin
Website: Deutsches Technikmuseum

The BonzenVolvo in the DDR Museum

43 | The Bonzen-Volvo

While most East Germans able to procure a car had their choice limited to the rickety Trabant (the Trabi) or its larger and more powerful alternative – the Wartburg – important members of the ruling Politburo would be chauffeuered around in more luxurious Swedish Volvos. The decision was largely a matter of capital. When faced with importing Tatra limos from the Socialist brotherland of Czechoslovakia, the government opted for the quiter, more reliable – and cheaper – Volvo from neutral Sweden. 

This 264TE limousine previously belonged to Party Secretary of the Economy, Günter Mittag, and is now on display at the DDR Museum.

Address: Karl-Liebknecht-Strasse 1, 10178 Berlin
Website: The DDR Museum

The Berlin Wall Rabbits

44 | The Berlin Wall Rabbits

Due to the lack of human activity in the ‘Death Strip’ area of the Berlin Wall, many different species of wild animal would come to call this isolated zone home – in particular, wild rabbits. While East German border guards would initially take pot shots at the little bunnies, in an attempt to control the population, the government would eventually prohibit this practice – else anyone assume the sound of gunfire was indication that the guards were in-fact shooting at people. 

When the Wall fell in 1989, these rabbits lost their habitat and were left to roam the city – their brief foray into mass urban living commemorated by this installation to be found on Chausseestrasse.

Address: Chausseestraße, 10115 Berlin
Website: None

The Bierpinsel

45 | The Bierpinsel

Like many buildings constructed in the 1970s, this odd structure has a distinctly futuristic feel. Designed by the same architects responsible for the monstrous Berlin Convention Centre, the Bierpinsel (Beer Brush) was originally opened as a restaurant – and housed one of Germany’s first salad bars – although has since been plagued by funding and tenancy issues. 

A rare inclusion of a building on our list of objects, the Bierpinsel arguably qualifies as it is not only an iconic testament to the hideously attractive aspirations of pop-architecture in the 1970s but has probably spent as much time empty as it has occupied.

Address: Schloßstraße 17, 12163 Berlin
Website: None

The North Korean Propaganda Display in Berlin

46 | North Korean Propaganda

Few countries maintain diplomatic ties with the Peoples Democratic Republic of Korea (North Korea). Berlin’s North Korean embassy dates back to the East German time, as the current building was constructed in 1975 on the site of the former Hotel Kaiserhof (Adolf Hitler’s unofficial residence as his rose to power in 1933). 

The embassy entrance boasts this cheery streetside display of party propaganda, depicting the great achievements of the North Korean state and Great Leader Kim Jong Un. The adjacent City Hostel, finally closed in 2020 after a protracted battle to stop North Korea making money from rent, in violation of UN resolution 2321.

Address: Glinkastraße 5-7, 10117 Berlin
Website: None

The Alexander von Humboldt Statue on Unter den Linden

47 | Alexander von Humboldt

The most famous of the Humboldt brothers, Alexander was a highly regarded botanist, biologist, and explorer, responsible even for inspiring Charles Darwin to hop on the HMS Beagle and embark on his career as a scientist. 

This lifesize resemblance now sits outside the university that bears his name – with the base of the statue bizarrely crediting him as the ‘second discoverer of Cuba’. The statue was in-fact a gift from the University of Havana – as Alexander von Humboldt is considered to be the first person to have extensively studied the animal and plant life of the region. Beyond the university there are plenty of things out there that also bear his name.

Address: Unter den Linden 6, 10117 Berlin
Website: Humboldt Universität

The Georg Elser Memorial on Wilhelmstrasse

48 | Georg Elser Memorial

To date there are more than forty known assassination attempts against Nazi leader Adolf Hitler that have been registered. One of the most significant occured in 1939, when a young carpenter named Georg Elser tried to blow up Hitler and key members of the Nazi leadership at a beer hall in Bavaria, only to narrowly miss and be arrested by border guards when attempting to flee to Switzerland. Elser was tortured, imprisoned, and finally executed in 1945. 

This memorial to the lone assassin can be found on Wilhelmstrasse – a stone’s throw away from the site of the Führerbunker, where Hitler would eventually take his own life in 1945.

Address: Wilhelmstraße 49, 10117 Berlin
Website: None

The Teufelsberg Radomes

49 | The Teufelsberg Radomes

Often simply known as Teufelsberg (Devil’s Mountain) this now defunct facility was constructed as an NSA/CIA listening station during the Cold War period on top of a mountain of rubble scraped out of the city at the end of the Second World War. 

Around 75 million m3 of debris between 1945 and 1965 was dumped here – on top of the remains of Albert Speer’s Military Technical College – producing the highest peak in Berlin (around 120m elevation). The former spy facility on top is now open to visitors as a museum and art space – with the radar domes sometimes use as exhibition spaces or for private dining. 

Address: Teufelsberg, 14055 Berlin
Website: Teufelsberg Berlin

The Rock Paper Scissors Installation on the Oberbaumbrucke

50 | The Rock Paper Scissors

Constructed as a tax bridge spanning the river Spree, the Oberbaumbrücke now connects the neighbourhoods of Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg. It would see use as a border crossing during the Cold War period, until the ‘Fall of the Wall’ in 1989. One of the iconic landmarks in this area of the city, it often serves as the further point east on the river for tour boat trips. 

Come here at night and you’ll find this illuminated art piece installed on the train bridge – where it is possible to play rock-paper-scissors. If you’re feeling really brave, swing by in the summer, when residents organise an annual food fight pitching Kreuzberg against Friedrichshain.

 

Address: Oberbaumbrücke, 10243 Berlin
Website: None

The Benno Ohnesorg Memorial

51 | Benno Ohnesorg Memorial

The murder of young protester, Benno Ohnesorg, in 1967, near the West Berlin opera house, would serve as an important turning point for post-war West German identity – as student groups rallied against what they saw as the internalised fascism of the state – particularly as Ohnesorg’s killer was a police officer.

While protesting against a visit from the Shah of Iran, Ohnesorg was shot by Karl-Heinz Kurras – who was later twice acquited of any wrongdoing. A result used as justification for the violence that militant groups, such as the Red Army Faction and the Movement 2nd June (named after the date Ohnesorg died), would unleash.

Address: Bismarckstraße 35, 10627 Berlin
Website: None

Erick Honecker's Chair in the DDR Museum

52 | Erich Hoenecker's Chair

The East German state struggled endlessly throughout its existence to balance its books – weighed down by its extensive spending on border controls, secret police, and subsidies – ever more so from the 1970s as ‘consumer socialism’ was introduced and the continuous trade deficit with the West threatened stability. 

This olive green armchair was famously used by Erich Hoenecker in 1983 to receive Bavarian Prime Minister Franz Strauss and negotiate a one billion mark loan to help prop up the ailing state for another seven years – when the promised political concessions and economic reform finally arrived as a result of the ‘Fall of the Berlin Wall’.

Address: Karl-Liebknecht-Strasse 1, 10178 Berlin
Website: The DDR Museum

Die Wehrmacht Statue in The German History Museum in Berlin

53 | Die Wehrmacht Statue

When Adolf Hitler’s immense New Reich Chancellery, co-designed by court architect Albert Speer, was deemed complete in 1939 – two statues from sculptor Arno Breker were chosen to feature in the court of honour entrance, the first thing visiting dignitaries would see on arrival. 

A copy of one of these statues, Die Wehrmacht (the Army), is now exhibited in the foyer of the German Historical Museum – having been recast in the 1980s. The original was lost at the end of the war – which makes this reproduction even more fascinating. The second statue, Die Partei (the Party) can be found on the grounds of the Arno Breker museum in Nörvenich. 

Address: Unter den Linden 2, 10117 Berlin
Website: Deutsches Historisches Museum

The Kaiser Wilhelm I Sarcophagus

54 | The Kaiser's Sarcophagus

The final resting place of German Emperor William I can be found hidden away in the tranquil gardens of the Charlottenburg Palace, where the man responsible for unifying Germany in 1871 is depicted in true Barbarossa-style slumber – his eyes resting while he clutches his sword and waits to be reawakened. 

The mausoleum housing William was originally constructed for his mother, Prussian Queen Louise, who would be joined by her husband in 1840. Although neither of William I’s successors would be interned here – with the last German Emperor, William II, buried in the Netherlands after his abdication.

Address: Spandauer Damm 10-22, 14059 Berlin
Website: Schloss Charlottenburg

The Cross of Nails in Berlin

55 | The Cross of Nails

When the Second World War came to its overdue end, reuniting the populations of the former belligerent nations in peace and ensure that such a tragedy never happen again became a high priority. One of the most recognisable symbols of this sentiment is the Coventry Cross of Nails, named after the English city devastated by a Luftwaffe air raid in 1940 – and made of charred nails salvaged from the ruin of the city’s Cathedral. Further crosses were subsequently made and given to various organisations as a sign of friendship and hope.

This cross of nails can be found in the entrance room of the war damaged Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. 

Address: Breitscheidplatz, 10789 Berlin
Website: Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtnis-Kirche

The Day the Wall Came Down Sculpture

56 | The Fall Of The Wall Statue

One of two statues known as the Day The Wall Came Down created by US artist Veryl Goodnight reimagining the feverish excitement surrounding the end of the Berlin Wall – these five horses (one stallion and four mares) can be found galloping across damaged replica pieces of this infamous concrete barrier, near the US embassy on Clay Allee, in the west Berlin district of Dahlem. Described as a visualisation of the deep-seated humour desire from freedom, the statue was a gift from the United States government and was unveiled in 1998 by former US President George H.W. Bush.

The original version of this statue is now exhibited outside the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library in Texas.

Address: Clayallee, 14195 Berlin
Website: None

The Pink Pipes in Berlin

57 | The Pink Pipes

More than merely a matter of adding a dash of colour to the otherwise restrained pastel-based palette of Berlin’s cityscape – these pink tubes actually serve as overground waste removal pipes – to the horror of many visitors. Temporarily installed across the city to deal with Berlin’s high water table and the swampy ground that makes construction work more hazardous.

For more than a century a company called Pollems has been responsible for the introduction and maintainance of these colourful pipes: choosing the colour pink after consulting a psychologist and being told that it is soothing and inoffensive – and that it would also be popular with children.

Address: Various Locations
Website: None

Prometheus Statue in the Academy of Art in Berlin

58 | The Prometheus Statue

A strange choice of allegory, perhaps, considering the previous ownership of this impressive statue, depicting the Greek myth of Prometheus in chains – the Titan who stole fire from the gods to give it to humanity, only to be condemned to eternal bondage as a result. Created in 1902 as one of Neo-Baroque artist Reinhold Begas’ last works, this piece survived the Second World War as part of Nazi court architect Albert Speer’s personal collection – walled up in the Academy of Arts until discovered during renovation work. 

It can now be found hidden away at the back of the building when entering near the Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe.

Address: Pariser Platz 4, 10117 Berlin
Website: Academy of Arts

Bertolt Brecht's Grave

59 | Bertolt Brecht's Grave

One of the most well-known exile artists to return to Germany after the end of the Second World War, Bertolt Brecht followed his political convictions all the way back to East Berlin – where he had established his reputation as a writer during the Weimar-era and exponent of ‘dialectical theatre’. His work The Threepenny Opera – featuring the hit song Mack the Knife – was first performed at the Theatre am Schiffbauerdamm, transformed into the Berliner Ensemble by Brecht and his wife in 1949. 

The celebrated playwright is buried in Berlin’s Dorotheenstädtischer cemetery alongside his wife and collaborator, actress Helene Weigel.

Address: Chausseestraße 126, 10115 Berlin
Website: Dorotheenstädtisch Friedhof

The Red Suitcase at the Stasi Museum

60 | The Red Suitcase

Holding the reins of power in a state such as Cold War East Germany could be a dangerous game, a country which despite its public image of Socialist camaraderie would expect its leaders to either ‘hang alone or hang together’ – for fear of factionalism (conspiring against the party and people). Politburo members often had as much to fear from each other as the Imperialist enemy. 

A phenomenon embodied by this red suitcase, exhibited in the Stasi Museum, that belonged to secret police chief Erich Mielke – and contained documents implicating East German leader Erich Honecker in anti-Communist activites. Secrets kept to ensure his commitment to the cause.

Address: Normannenstraße 20, 10365 Berlin
Website: Stasi Museum

Nikita Kruschev's Hat

61 | Nikita Kruschev's Hat

At the height of the Cold War in the 1950s and 60s, the Soviet Union was ruled over by portly strongman Nikita Kruschev – who developed a penchant for banging his footwear on podiums mid-speech for added dramatic effect. After emerging victorious in the scramble to succeed Joseph Stalin in 1953, Kruschev would be left to wrestle with the recurring question of the status of divided Berlin and Germany – referring to West Berlin as a “malignant tumour”.

His hat and shirt, exhibited inside the Checkpoint Charlie museum, don’t have the star appeal of a Kruschev shoe – but prove that the man who once held the fate of the planet in his hands certainly wore big boy clothes.

Address: Friedrichstraße 43-45, 10969 Berlin
Website: Museum Haus am Checkpoint Charlie

The East German Border Control Box at Tränenpalast

62 | The Passport Control Box

Following the construction of the Berlin Wall, in 1961, it would eventually be possible to cross from West Berlin into the East of the city as a tourist – although rarely the other way around. Visitors would commonly enter East Germany in a car or bus – although sometimes also by train. Friedrichstrasse station held the distinction of being the only crossing point that was actually inside East Berlin – where tourists disembark straight into the East rather than pass through a checkpoint on the border of East Berlin.

Returning home from here would involve passing through one of these threatening looking passport control cabins – still to be found in the former Friedrichstrasse station border control office.

Address: Reichstagufer 17, 10117 Berlin
Website: The Tränenpalast

The Empty Library in Berlin on Bebelplatz

63 | The Empty Library

In the centre of modern-day Bebelplatz – previously known as Opera Square (Opernplatz) – is a memorial for an event that has come to be known simply as the ‘Nazi Book Burning’ – when on May 10th 1933 some 20,000 pillaged books by banned writers were condemned to flames on this square. In-fact organised by the German Student Association, the event would be attended by Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels, and officially portrayed as a day of “Action Against The Un-German Spirit”.

Now commemorated by this empty library, sunk into the ground beneath the square – the work of Israeli artist Micha Ullmann – and a plaque presenting the prescient words of Heinrich Heine.

 

Address: Unter den Linden, 10117 Berlin
Website: None

The Debt Clock in Berlin

64 | The Debt Clock

As Europe’s biggest economy, Germany has managed to burden its tax payers with a considerable amount of debt. In an attempt to raise awareness of this lack of fiscal responsibility, the German Taxpayers Federation installed a Debt Clock outside their headquarters in 2013 to highlight the misuse of public funds and promote the reining in of government spending.  

The clock continues to rack up the debt – although there was a time back in 2018 when it started moving in the opposite direction – at a rate of 78€ per second. Meaning that at that rate it would take only 800 years to pay back the 2€ trillion worth of federal and state debt.

Address: Reinhardtstraße 48-52, 10117 Berlin
Website: Bund der Steuerzahler e.V.

The Moltke Statue in the Tiergarten

65 | Helmuth von Moltke

Widely acknowledged as one of the greatest military theorists to have ever lived, Prussian Field Marshal Helmuth von Moltke is said to pioneered the decentralised use of armies and subordinate officers in the field, in response to his oft-quoted protestation that “no plan survives contact with the enemy”. 

Although he was popularly known in his own time as the ‘Great Quiet One’ – due to his preference for few words, Moltke now bears the distinction of being the only person born in the 18th century to still have a preserved audio reproduction of his voice, as he was recorded reciting Goethe and Shakespeare by one of Thomas Edison’s assistants, in 1889.

 

Address: Spreeweg 1, 10557 Berlin
Website: None

Otto von Bismarck in the Tiergarten

66 | Otto von Bismarck

The founding father of the German Empire – the George Washington of his time – no other person did so much to bring Germany together as one country as Otto von Bismarck – affectionately dubbed ‘The Iron Chancellor’. The German Empire’s first head of government can now be found next to the Siegessäule (Victory Column) in Berlin’s Tiergarten, near his compatriots Moltke and Roon. 

Like the other statues, Bismarck previously stood in front of the Reichstag building before being moved here to make way for Adolf Hitler’s mammoth Germania project – with the streets around the Siegessäule redirected to form a big star (Grosse Stern).

Address: Spreeweg 1, 10557 Berlin
Website: None

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