history-of-germany

Das Schloss Stolzenfels (click for website) on the outskirts of Koblenz in Rheinland-Pfalz, Southwestern Germany. The neo-Gothic castle’s origins date from the mid-13th century, when the archbishop of Trier sought to counter the influence and toll rights of the archbishop of Mainz, who had just built Burg Lahneck. Its superbly furnished period rooms and beautiful gardens are well worth a visit. From B-9 curbside parking it’s about a 15 min walk up to the castle entrance.

Spectators in the Olympiastadion during the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. By Heinrich Hoffmann.

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Creation of the Berlin Wall, 8/13/1961

In the early morning hours of August 13, 1961, the people of East Berlin were awakened by the rumbling of heavy machinery barreling down their streets toward the line that divided the eastern and western parts of the city.

Groggy citizens looked on as work details began digging holes and jackhammering sidewalks, clearing the way for the barbed wire that would eventually be strung across the dividing line. Armed troops manned the crossing points between the two sides and, by morning, a ring of Soviet troops surrounded the city. Overnight, the freedom to pass between the two sections of Berlin ended.

Running across cemeteries and along canals, zigzagging through the city streets, the Berlin Wall was a chilling symbol of the Iron Curtain that divided all of Europe between communism and democracy. Berlin was at the heart of the Cold War. (via @jfklibrary)

Keep Reading: The Cold War in Berlin - John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum

Series: Photographs Relating to World War II, the Cold War, and U.S. - West German Diplomatic, Economic, and Military Contacts, ca. 1951 - 1994Record Group 306: Records of the U.S. Information Agency, 1900 - 2003 


More on the Cold War in Berlin and the Berlin Wall:

Even iron is not plentiful with [the Germans], as we infer from the character of their weapons. But few use swords or long lances. They carry a spear (framea is their name for it), with a narrow and short head, but so sharp and easy to wield that the same weapon serves, according to circumstances, for close or distant conflict. As for the horse-soldier, he is satisfied with a shield and spear; the foot-soldiers also scatter showers of missiles each man having several and hurling them to an immense distance, and being naked or lightly clad with a little cloak. There is no display about their equipment; their shields alone are marked with very choice colours. A few only have corslets, and just one or two here and there a metal or leather helmet. Their horses are remarkable neither for beauty nor for fleetness. Nor are they taught various evolutions after our fashion, but are driven straight forward, or so as to make one wheel to the right in such a compact body that none is left behind another. On the whole, one would say that their chief strength is in their infantry, which fights along with the cavalry; admirably adapted to the action of the latter is the swiftness of certain foot-soldiers, who are picked from the entire youth of their country, and stationed in front of the line. Their number is fixed – a hundred from each canton; and from this they take their name among their countrymen, so that what was originally a mere number has no become a title of distinction. Their line of battle is drawn up in a wedge-like formation. To give ground, provided you return to the attack, is considered prudence rather than cowardice. The bodies of their slain they carry off even in indecisive engagements. To abandon your shield is the basest of crimes; nor may a man thus disgraced be present at the sacred rites, or enter their council; many, indeed, after escaping from battle, have ended their infamy with the halter.
—  Tacitus ’The Agricola and Germania’, first century CE

Today (April 30) in 1945, Adolf Hitler commits suicide in Berlin. In this photograph, LIFE correspondent Percy Knauth, left, sifts through debris in the shallow trench in the garden of the Reich Chancellery where, Knauth was told, the bodies of Hitler and Eva Braun were burned after their suicides.

(William Vandivert—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)