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Bebelplatz

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Bebelplatz

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Basic Information

Location 52°30′59″N 13°23′34″E
Country Germany
City Berlin
Address Unter den Linden 10117 Berlin

General Information

Open to visitors yes
Need appointment no
Handicap accessibility no
Website https://www.berlin.de/orte/sehenswuerdigkeiten/bebelplatz/index.en.php?lang=en
Geographical Coordinates 52.51656,13.39323


Summary

The Bebelplatz (formerly Opernplatz) is a public square in the central Mitte district of Berlin, the capital of Germany. The square is located on the south side of the Unter den Linden boulevard, a major east-west thoroughfare in the city center. It is bounded to the east by the State Opera building (hence its prewar name), to the west by buildings of Humboldt University, and to the southeast by St. Hedwig's Cathedral, the first Catholic church built in Prussia after the Reformation. The square is named after August Bebel, a founder of the Social Democratic Party of Germany in the 19th century.


History and time period

Early history:

The square, then called Platz am Opernhaus, was laid out between 1741 and 1743 under the rule of King Frederick II of Prussia. On 12 August 1910 it was named Kaiser-Franz-Josef-Platz, in honour of Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria on the occasion of his 87th birthday. The buildings surrounding the square were largely destroyed in World War II by air raids and the Battle of Berlin. The ensemble was restored in the 1950's and the square renamed on 31 August 1947.

Nazi book burnings:

The Bebelplatz is known as the site of the infamous Nazi book burning ceremony held in the evening of May 10, 1933 by members of the SA ("brownshirts"), SS, Nazi students and Hitler Youth groups, on the instigation of Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels. They burned around 20,000 books, including works by Heinrich Mann, Erich Maria Remarque, Heinrich Heine, Karl Marx, Albert Einstein and many other authors. Some days earlier, on May 6, the students had also dragged the contents library of the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft into the square, burning them on May 10. Today a memorial by Micha Ullman consisting of a glass plate set into the cobbles, giving a view of empty bookcases (Big enough to hold the total of the 20,000 burnt books), commemorates the book burning. Furthermore, a line of Heinrich Heine from his play, Almansor (1821), is engraved on a plaque inset in the square: "Das war ein Vorspiel nur, dort wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man am Ende auch Menschen." (in English: "Where they burn books, they will in the end also burn people"). Students at Humboldt University hold a book sale in the square every year to mark the anniversary.


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