Designed by Ernst Sagebiel (1892- 1970), the Reich Air Ministry was the largest office building in Europe at the time of its construction.
WAR LIFE have been granted EXCLUSIVE access inside the building by the German Finance Ministry.
Built by order of Reichsmarschall Herman Göring, it was constructed in the 18 months between February, 1935, and August, 1936.
With 28,00 rooms, 7 kilometers (4 miles) of hallways, 4,000 windows and 17 stairways, it functioned as the administrative center of the Luftwaffe.
Considered a classic example of Nazi architecture, surprisingly, it survived the Second World War, and Germany’s defeat, nearly unscathed.
The most damage was caused in February 1944, when a 2500-ton raid by 1000 U.S. Fortresses struck the city. The Air Ministry received eight direct hits, and 18 concentrations of high explosives blanketed the area.
During the war it was reported that receptions at the Air Ministry were “something like a champagne bath” after the United Press reported that Herman Goring had ordered a million bottles of the best champagne taken from France to be stored in the cellars of the building.
Post-war, it served first as a center for the Soviet military in Berlin, and then later it functioned as the home of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) Council of Ministers (Haus de Ministerien).
Although the building’s interior remained largely intact, rumors suggest that many of the buildings stone panels were simply turned inwards to hide the swastikas on their opposite side.
In 1952, an enormous mural, made entirely from Meissen porcelain tiles and depicting the happy life of the East Germans, was erected on the north facade.
In 1953, the Haus de Ministerien was the site of a protest by East Berlin workers, who stormed the the building before being suppressed by Soviet troops.
The infamous East German Uprising of 1953 resulted from these events.
Today, the building serves as the German Finance Ministry, and consequently, gaining access is a difficult process.
However, as a relic of Berlin’s history, of WWII, the post-war Soviet occupation, and the rise, and subsequent fall, of the German Democratic Republic, it absolutely merits the effort.