Berlin is Germany’s largest city, its capital. For the first time the mention of it appeared in 1170. Since 1417, the city was at first the capital of the Elector of Brandenburg, then of Prussia, and after the creation of the German Empire became its capital.
After the end of World War II, the city was divided into two parts, between which in 1961 the famous wall was erected. It became a symbol of the division of the socialist world and the West. But in 1990 Germany was united, the wall fell. And Berlin has become the capital of a whole country.
Today, the city has about 3.5 million people. It is not only a political, but also a cultural center of Germany. Many tourists come here, because in the city there are many iconic museums, here inexpensive beer and tolerant to unusual people.
Nevertheless, many of our compatriots, even those living in Berlin, do not know this great city well enough. The most famous myths about him we debunk. In addition to the life of the city itself, it will be a good idea to learn a little about its history.
Berlin is a poor city. “Berlin is poor, but sexy.”
This is the phrase that the mayor of the city, Klaus Wowereit, recently said. It was to become the motto of the tourist campaign. The slogan is rather peculiar, but is it worse than the previous “Bee Berlin”? This phrase should reflect the liberal attitude of citizens to sex, but sounded like a stammer. In fact, it is true that Berlin is poor in relation to the rest of Germany. Every fifth citizen lives on welfare, every third child is below the poverty line. And these proportions do not decrease. In the city, unemployment is double compared to the rest of the country – 12% against 6%. On the other hand, the city becomes one of the most effective in the country in terms of GDP. It grew by 1.75% between 2004 and 2009, which is three times higher than the national average. The distribution of wealth can be disproportionate, especially when it comes to immigrants, but the overall figures are not as tragic as those presented to tourists. In any case, poverty can hardly seem so sexual, as the mayor-homosexual puts it. In really poor areas of the city there are real social problems. Many of these places are located in the places of the former East Berlin or behind the inner city ring, where at one time huge housing complexes without infrastructure were built. In Marzan-Hellersdorf district, unemployment is 18%, many residents simply can not in principle get out of the predicament living here.
In Berlin, very cheap housing.
As in most European capitals, there is always an opportunity to rent inexpensive housing in disadvantaged areas. But the days of cheap attics for artists in such popular areas as Mitte or Kreuzberg have long since passed. In the proof of the myth is the fact that you can rent an apartment in Neukölln twice as much as the equivalent in London. In fact, the real estate market in the German capital is constantly growing. Over the past couple of years, the rental price has increased by about 8%. And the cost of rent in medium-sized prestigious areas is gradually drawn to elite.
In the growth of rent, the tourists themselves are to blame.
It’s no secret that a lot of young people go to Berlin. There are many clubs here, and beer is cheap. According to a poll by Smithsonian Magazine, Berlin even got on the list of 43 places that must be seen before death. But what do people want to see in the city? There are many museums and galleries here, but visitors aged 18-35 go here for cheap booze and famous party places. That’s only according to the statistics of the twenty million visitors who visited the city in January-November 2011, about three million people choose not hotels, but other placements. Usually in this case we mean rent of apartments.But does it increase the cost of rent? Tourists themselves do not establish the cost of rent, they create a demand, which determines higher prices in a market economy. Investors even buy up apartment buildings, turning them into short-term places of residence. In a complex real estate market, not only tourists coming here, but also local residents, foreigners or other Germans participate. Another important factor for increasing the cost of housing is the dynamics of the local economy. Investments are coming to the city, including foreign ones. Compared with London or Paris, there are not so many of them, just in recent decades the city has experienced an unusual economic transformation.
Berlin is a technological Mecca of Europe.
It is believed that the business of digital technologies is gradually mastering Berlin instead of London. The mayor’s office even recently published plans to launch free Wi-Fi throughout the city. There are plans to launch a start-up center in Mitte to further stimulate the entrepreneurial climate. Today, owners of MacBooks can be found in abundance around Rosenthaler Platz. Yes, and in technical blogs are increasingly praised by Berlin. But this is far from San Jose and all these great start-ups have not yet played an important role in the structure of the urban economy. Berlin, like the rest of Germany, still earns on retail trade, exports and tourism. It is the latter that gives an impressive 64% of annual revenue for service and trade enterprises. So jobs in the IT industry are still dreams. Startups and the Internet companies are not even listed in the official summary of the city economy. And although the authorities recently passed a law on the allocation of $ 100 million to invest in IT projects, there was immediately a proposal to tax freelancers, which can work against an independent small business that is trying to get on its feet. So from an economic point of view, IT startups in Berlin are still in its infancy, and is the city ready to turn from “poor, but sexual” to “rich and intelligent”?
The only significant ethnos in Berlin are the Turks.
Turks make up an impressive percentage of residents in some areas, for example, in Kreuzberg, their 30% of 160 thousand. In total, according to official data, 14% of foreigners are in the city, of them about 119 thousand of Turkish citizens. And this is only about immigrants, and many natives of this Asian country have already obtained German citizenship. Despite the impressive contribution of this diaspora to the culture and economy of the city, this is by no means the only significant ethnic group. In Berlin, there are 36,000 Poles, there are Serbs, Italians, Americans and French. There are also a lot of Russians in the city, which make up a third of the population of the Marzan-Hellersdorf district. At one time, European integration erased the borders between nations, so attention is drawn to exotic cultures. In addition, there is a large Arabic-speaking community, mostly from Lebanon, Palestine and Iraq, who are confused with the Turks. In Berlin, one of the largest Vietnamese communities live outside the country – there are 83 thousand people of the same origin. Natives of West Africa open delightful restaurants in Neukölln and Kreuzberg. And although statistically in the city it is the Turks – the largest foreign ethnos, the city in terms of nationalities is much more diverse than it may seem at first glance.
Anyone in Berlin can tolerably talk in English.
According to the latest data in Berlin, there are only 25,400 expats from countries where the official language is English. This is less than a percent of the total number of citizens. English is compulsory in German schools, it’s easy to think that it’s easy for Berlin to travel without knowing a local language. Citizens, even if they look unfriendly, will always help the English-speaking tourist. That’s just a weak knowledge of German will be a problem if you have to live in Berlin for a long time.Talking with a clerk, plumber or seller only in English will not work. Evenings of language exchange or German courses can help. If you plan to rent an apartment, it is better to find a German neighbor. It will help to adapt to an unfamiliar environment, and provide daily language practice.
There is a lot of street art in the city, as it is legal here.
Walking around Berlin, you often pay attention to the pictures drawn with the help of a spray and a stencil. It seems that the authorities calmly admit such a form of creativity. In fact, any graffiti or street art on private or public buildings without the owner’s permission is punishable by a fine of up to two thousand euros or even three years in prison. Nevertheless, in the alleys there are thousands of illegal works, including from Banksy himself. Local artists became legends of underground art, having already reached the international level. But most often street masters prefer to work in abandoned warehouses, old construction sites and objects with unclear property rights.
West Berlin is boring.
It’s no secret that most creative individuals choose the eastern part of the city. But this does not mean that the western part of Berlin is very boring. Here is the same Kreuzberg, dusty and dirty, and quite oriental in spirit. Charlottenburg, considered the worst of the districts of this part of the city, was once the epicenter of the cultural and social life of Berlin. There are a lot of interesting museums and galleries far away from trade and bustle, excellent restaurants, at least one round-the-clock bohemian café, stylish and elegant hotels. Do not forget about other western areas. Schöneberg is an interesting place for pastime. Nollendofplatz Square is one of the centers of Berlin’s nightlife, the center of the gay community. Even before the fall of the wall, Schöneberg was an excellent resting place. Young people were smoking in local cafes, people were talking on a variety of topics. Today, here in June, one of the most famous “rainbow” festivals “Berlin Pride” is held. The same popular area of Neukölln belongs to the western part, although many associate it with the eastern part.
Prenzlauer Berg has the largest percentage of children in Europe.
It is believed that there are many Swabian yuppies that can be found with strollers on the streets. The district itself is considered a youth, there is more than anywhere in the city of people aged 20 to 44 years. Baby boom here is well marked, children’s playgrounds are always full. It’s hard to imagine that Prenzlauer-Beng was like Kreuzberg ten years ago. Here constantly lived punks, dissidents, the poet and intellectuals. Today, it is believed that there are a lot of Swabians. This South German nationality is considered to be thrifty and loving children. Schwabs prefer cozy housing and talk on high topics. And although the district itself has really changed beyond recognition, and most of the primitive entertainment is gone, the statement about the baby boom is still a myth. In comparison with other areas of the city there is a similar birth rate. And although some of the famous clubs are still closed recently, this is more likely a citywide trend. In the area there are still places that are not combined with the yuppies in spirit.
You can not smoke in Berlin.
The city does have bans on smoking in public places. This applies to the metro, electric trains, hotels and restaurants. And although this seems uncomfortable, there is a way out. In many restaurants on the streets there are street tables where you can smoke a cigarette. True, on open platforms of the metro and electric trains, the Germans do not hesitate to smoke.
In Berlin pedestrians are extremely disciplined.
Everyone knows about the love of the Germans for order. But in Berlin, you can meet pedestrians who, in a hurry, cross the street to a red light or in the wrong place. Especially often it happens when on the street walkers go out, and cars on the roads are few.
In Berlin it is difficult to find a public toilet.
Tourists should not bother searching for a toilet.Here you can contact any cafe or restaurant with a request to go to the toilet. Such a request is not surprising to anybody, there is such a service – from 50 euro cents to euro. And in the same Starbucks or McDonald’s, you can use the restroom and it’s free. It should be noted that this is a simple and convenient solution for everyone. Tourists do not have to suffer in search of the right institution, and the Germans themselves receive an additional stable income.
Pedestrians can be calm on the sidewalks.
In Berlin, for pedestrians created excellent conditions – the sidewalks are almost wider than the roads themselves. That’s just worth noting that most often part of this path will be occupied by a bike path. And the cyclists will not give way, being on their lane. They will loud calls to encourage pedestrians to give way.
During the storming of Berlin during the Second World War hundreds of thousands of Soviet soldiers were vainly lost.
There are quite official figures of losses during that operation. From April 16 to May 8, Soviet troops lost 352,000 soldiers, of which 78,000 were irretrievably lost. About a million or hundreds of thousands of dead and can not speak. For the same time, the Germans lost 400 thousand soldiers only killed, 380 thousand more were taken prisoner. The effectiveness of storming the city can be estimated at least from the ratio of losses.
Berlin could not be stormed, but surrounded and taken by frost.
At the time of the beginning of the operation, most of the German troops were outside the city. It is no coincidence that 3.5 million Germans fell into captivity to the allies, and 1.5 million were captured by the Soviet Union. Obviously, without taking the capital of Germany and, accordingly, Hitler’s death, the troops would continue to resist, which would entail even more casualties.
Berlin could have been taken back in February 1945.
Familiarization with the chronology of events suggests that Berlin could have been taken earlier. Back in late January 1945, Soviet troops captured bridgeheads on the Oder, just 70 kilometers from Berlin. However, the troops of the First Byelorussian Front turned to Pomerania. Marshal Chuikov recalled that the initiator of this was personally Stalin, who frustrated Zhukov’s plans to capture Berlin. In fact, the army had to pull the rear – in January, 500 kilometers from the Vistula to the Oder were rapidly passed. The Germans managed to form a powerful defense here. Yes, and this maneuver allowed to smash the group in Pomerania and free up several armies for the future of the main offensive. To begin an offensive against Berlin at such a moment could only be an adventurer, whom Zhukov was not.
Stalin arranged a competition between Zhukov and Konev for the right to take Berlin.
It is believed that the price of thousands of soldiers commanders competed for the right to take the capital of the enemy. In fact, today, studying the directives of the stakes to the fronts, the myth is easy to debunk. Zhukov was clearly instructed to seize Berlin, and Konev was ordered to defeat the enemy’s grouping south of the city. However, Konev himself intended to attack Berlin with the main forces from the south in order to win the laurels of the winner. But far from Stalin organized a competition of fronts.
Germans in Berlin burned tank armies of the Soviet Union.
Today they say that it was not worthwhile to introduce tanks to Berlin. In urban conditions, they were simply burned with faust patrons. On the question of whether or not to enter the tanks with the tanks at all, General Rybalko, Commander of the 3rd Army, answered. He believes that the experience of the Great Patriotic War showed the inevitability of such decisions. And the experience of conducting street fighting must be assimilated to tank and mechanized troops. But it was the troops of Rybalko who stormed Berlin. Today, based on archival documents, it is possible to find out the price of the use of tanks during the storming of the city. Each of the three entered the army lost a hundred combat vehicles. Half of them were shot from the faust patrons. But in the same second army of Bogdanov there were only 685 combat vehicles. So it’s not necessary to say that the army was burnt in Berlin.But the tanks became a reliable support for the infantry, and the Soviet troops were able to reliably resist the Faustians.
Soviet troops blew up the Reichstag after the victory.
There is a legend that after the end of the war our soldiers executed one of the symbols of the “Third Reich”. The building had nothing to regret, it was insulting only to lose the inscriptions left here. In fact, this did not happen. When the city was divided, the Reichstag remained in the western part, near the future Berlin Wall. A dilapidated building only in 1954 attracted the attention of the authorities. Then the dome was dismantled, which was about to collapse. Incidentally, the Reichstag was planned to be demolished even by the Germans themselves under Hitler. In addition, the building did not play any political role in the life of the country. Minister Speer even drafted a new capital of the German world. Hitler wanted to demolish the old Berlin and erect on this site the main city of the New World Order. And after the war the Reichstag was still half ruined for a long time. Only by 1973 the restoration was over and historical exhibitions and meetings of the Bundestag factions began to take place here. And in the 1990s a new reconstruction of the building was carried out, it was decided to leave 159 Soviet graffiti. The Bundestag moved to the Reichstag from Bonn.
The Reichstag was the last stronghold of Hitler’s Germany.
The Reichstag by 1945 in Germany itself had long ago lost its significance, but for the Soviet troops it was one of the strongest centers of resistance. But in Berlin it was not the last stronghold of the state and Hitler personally. This can be called the personal bunker of the Fuhrer and the building of the Imperial Chancery. It was from there that the garrison of the city was administered. But for the Soviet Army, the Reichstag was a suitable target. His capture marked the end of the war, so everyone there aspired. The commander of the regiment that stormed the Reichstag, FM Zinchenko did not even know that Hitler’s bunker was next to him. If he had such information, the soldiers, naturally, would try to take the Fuhrer alive.
Hitler ordered the Berlin subway to be flooded.
This myth was created by Soviet propaganda. People were taught that Hitler, seeing the approach of Soviet soldiers through subway tunnels to the Reich Chancellery, ordered the subterranean facility to be flooded. But the civilians and wounded German soldiers were hiding from the bombing there. They were the main victims of the criminal order. This legend was even embodied in the film “Liberation. The last assault. ” Domestic propaganda claims that at that time up to 200 thousand people died. In fact, the order was not in principle, it was found in the archives. And Hitler never vainly destroyed his people. It was impossible to technically flood the metro, such locks do not build in principle because of the danger of the system failure. Yes, and quickly flood the station was impossible, because they are mostly close to the surface and certainly above the level of the Spree. In the subway killed up to 400 people, while they suffered from constant bombing. The tunnels collapsed, but the water level barely reached half a meter. In addition, the Germans themselves constantly pumped it out. Directly from the water one disabled person died, who fell from his carriage and drowned.