When it opened in 1875, the Kaiserhof hotel was the epitome of modernity. The opulent hotel was one of Berlin's most fashionable resorts, the haunt of aristocrats and rich holidaymakers. In 1930, Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels used the Kaiserhof as the Nazi Party headquarters. In 1946, the hotel, like much of bombed-out Berlin, was a hollow ruin. In 1975, on the spot where the grand hotel once stood, the North Korean embassy was erected, an architectural eyesore of appalling vulgarity. Berlin charts dramatically the changing face of one of the twentieth century's most fascinating cities at three crucial periods of its history.
Berlin presents the buildings and structures of historical and architectural interest which have been affected by events of the twentieth century: government buildings and grand hotels, cafes and department stores, theaters and railway stations can be seen from the same angle at three different points in time. Some of the structures have vanished completely; some were restored after the allied bombing of the city during the Second World War; others, such as the Imperial Palace and Hitler's Reich Chancellery, were blown up on ideological grounds; still others today serve a purpose different from their original one: the Nazi Reichsbank is now the home of the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, while the building which once housed the Reich Air Ministry is now the home of the Federal Ministry of Finances. The photographs assembled here are at once spectacular and full of human life, and the city they record over the course of almost one hundred years is a unique document for the student of history and architecture alike. Above all, Berlin is cultural and contemporary history in one-a splendid, informative, and enigmatic book about one the great cities of our time.show more