Swampy meadows, twin church towers, castle villas, Prussian officers, electric trams
Founded by Flemish settlers on the marshy banks of the Bäke stream a few kilometers south of Stegliltz, Lichterfelde has grown to become an large and affluent suburb, boasting some of Berlin’s loveliest houses and leafiest lanes.
A quiet and unremarkable place for most of its history, the village was controlled by a string of aristocratic families who struggled to run its increasingly unprofitable manor estate, until it was snapped up and transformed by the Hamburg-based property developer Johann Anton Wilhelm Carstenn. Grasping the opportunities offered by rail travel and Berlin’s rapid expansion towards the end of the 19th century, Carstenn needed barely 25 years to turn a sleepy settlement on the southwestern fringes of Berlin into one of the city’s most attractive and extensive suburban neighbourhoods. In doing so he also established Lichterfelde as the home of the Prussian officers cadet school gaining it a reputation as a bastion of hard line conservatism that lasted well into the twentieth century.
Today barely a farmhouse, barn or stable remains but the essential core of the old village has just about survived Carstenn’s remake and all that followed. Its surviving landmarks appear quite unexpectedly amidst the colorless cityscape lining the Hindenburgdamm south of Steglitz, where four lanes of traffic suddenly divide to reveal the rather unkempt grassy island which was once the village green. Here amidst the chestnuts, oaks and limes, one of Berlin’s most scenic central reservations still accommodates Lichterfelde’s two starkly contrasting 12th and 19th century village churches. Tucked away at the roadside just north of the green the estate manor house has also managed to hang on, its pleasant landscaped park stretching down to the Teltowkanal which replaced the meandering Bäke stream in 1906.
Beyond the green, Lichterfelde’s attractions are mostly to be found in Carstenn’s leafy residential neighbourhoods, to which the district’s centre of gravity – and most of its cafés, bars and eateries – long ago relocated. It’s here that you’ll find not only a dazzling variety of late Gründerzeit villas, but also Carstenn’s handsome railway stations, shopping bazaar and the remains of his Prussian cadet school, not to mention a striking neo-gothic home for spinsters and Berlin’s first homeopathic hospital. There’s plenty of greenery too – not only along the Teltowkanal but also in the lovely Bäke Park a little further north. Add to this the site of the world’s first electric tramline and the opulent Siemensvilla in Lichterfelde Ost and there’s plenty to keep you busy and entertained.
Das Lichterfelder Wappen, drei Lichter im Felde stehen an einer geschwungenen, blauen Linie, die an die ehemalige Bäke erinnert. Die drei Kerzen stehen für die Dörfer Giesensdorf und Lichterfelde sowie für die Landhaus-/Villenkolonie.
How to get there:
The easiest way to get to Lichterfelde from central Berlin is to take the the S1 SBahn to Steglitz and then change onto bus number M85, which stops at Bäkestrasse on the village green next to the Pauluskirche. If you want to start by exploring the villa neighbourhoods take the S-Bahn from central Berlin to Lichterfelde West (S1) or Licherfelde Ost (S25), a journey of about 20 minutes. From either station you can then make your way on foot through the leafy lanes to the heart of the old village.
Like Giesendorf, its close neighbour to the south, Lichterfelde was founded in the middle of the 13th century by settlers from the lower Rhine. The name, which the settlers probably brought with them from Western Flanders, most likely referred to an area of cleared land – which would fit nicely with the village’s original setting between woodland and the swampy meadows along the river Bäke. Whatever the truth about the name the location certainly provided the settlers with plenty of fresh water, as well as fertile land and riverside pasture for the grazing of livestock.
Although it lay close to a trade route that ran south from Berlin to Leipzig along the other side of the stream – today the Ostpreussendamm – the village developed slowly. According to Kaiser Karl IV’s Landbuch of 1375 Lichterfelde had an inn and a watermill but few craftsmen seem to have settled in the village until the end of the 18th century. For much of its early history Lichterfelde’s estate belonged to the von Britzke family who hailed from the village of the same name about five kilometres to the east. Indeed, it was even part of the parish of Britz for a time after the reformation. The fieldstone church, which dates from the 14th century, was almost completely destroyed during the Thirty Years War and was not rebuilt until 1701, after the estate had been acquired by Prussian Minister Daniel Rudolph von Danckelmann. Danckelmann merged the parishes of Lichterfelde and nearby Giesendorf and from then on Lichterfelde was looked after by the pastor who resided in its neighbour to the south. After the von Dankelmanns departed in 1709 the estate changed hands more than 20 times until the mid 19th century. During the 18th and 19th centuries the village was occupied a number of times by passing armies; first by Austrian troops during the 7 years War and then by Napolean’s army from 1806 to 1808 and again during its retreat from Russia in 1812 and 13. In 1856 Lichterfelde was recorded as still having only 373 inhabitants, however just 10 years later a certain Johann Anton Wilhelm Carstenn arrived on the scene and changed the face of this sleepy backwater forever.
Carstenn, a successful businessman and property developer from Hamburg who had had previously developed the Berlin district of Friedenau, bought the indebted estates of Lichterfelde and Giesendorf in 1866. Inspired by country houses he had admired on visits to England Carstenn’s vision was to turn the land he’d acquired into an up-market garden suburb, with its own infrastructure, shops and services quite separate from the existing village. The estate lands were ideally located for residential development, being more or less halfway between Berlin and Potsdam and traversed by both the Potsdamer and Anhalter railway lines.
Carstenn moved into Lichterfelde’s manor house (still referred to as the Carstennschlösschen today), quickly wound down agricultural activity on the estate farm and divided the land into building plots. There were to be two developments: Lichterfelde West and Lichterfelde Ost, on either side of the Bäke. The model for Carstenn’s leafy idyll was based on him providing the infrastructure and setting certain architectural guidelines while those who bought plots would be responsible for planning and building their own homes in any style they chose. He quickly laid out avenues and squares, built a gas works, water works, sewage plant and opened new railway stations on both of the Anhalter and Potsdamer lines.
In 1871 Carstenn gifted twelve hectares of land in Lichterfelde West to the Prussian state for the construction of a new cadet school, hoping that the building of such a high profile institution would attract members of the aristocratic officer class. As part of the deal he agreed to provide a transport link between the school and the Anhalter Bahn and in order to fulfil this condition he started the world’s first electric tram service in 1881. The school itself had been opened in 1878 in the presence of Kaiser Wilhelm I and soon became the most important centre for military education in the German Reich. Unfortunately for Carstenn his hefty investments and the so-called Gründerkrach slump of 1873, which slowed sales of his building plots, almost ruined him. Despite being given the title von Carstenn of Lichterfelde by the Kaiser in 1873? he lived out his last days in modest circumstances and died in the village of Schöneberg in 1896.
In stark contrast to Carstenn’s financial demise his villa colonies eventually took off and soon proved a resounding success. Lichterfelde became one of the most desirable residential neighbourhoods in Berlin during the early part of the 20th century, attracting Prussian officers and their families just as von Carstenn had intended. Sumptuous villas built in a mind boggling variety of architectural styles soon lined the leafy, cobbled streets and the population of Lichterfelde grew from under 1000 in 1871 to more than 23,000 by 1900. At the same time the rural nature of the old village began to change. Although not all farmers chose to sell off their increasingly valuable land to the developers and some livestock was still held into the 20th century, most of the farmhouses, barns and stable blocks along the green gradually disappeared.
By 1878 Lichterfelde and Giesendorf had been merged to form a single administrative entity and the new district of Groß-Lichterfelde got its own new redbrick Rathaus in 1894. In order to cater for the rapidly growing population a new church, the Pauluskirche, was built on the village green alongside the old Dorfkirche in 1898 and between 1900 and 1906 construction of the Teltowkanal along the bed of the Bäke transformed the marshy landscape to the east of the village. When Greater Berlin came into being in 1920 Groß-Lichterfelde, now with a population of just over 47,000, became part of the newly created Berlin borough of Steglitz.
The economic crisis of the early 1920’s was tough even for the well heeled villa dwellers of Lichterfelde Ost and West, who not only found it hard to finance the upkeep of their sizeable homes but also had to come to terms with the closing of the cadet school under the terms of the Versailles Treaty which ended World War One. For a short time Lichterfelde became known as Witwenfelde or “widowsfelde” due to the large number of wealthy war widows living there. After the Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933 Hitler’s bodyguard regiment the „SS-Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler“, moved into the cadet school and in 1934 during the so called “Night of the Long Knives” when much of the SA leadership was liquidated, it was the scene of a number of summary executions.
After the Second World War, Lichterfelde found itself in the heart of Berlin’s American sector. Not only did the U.S. army move into the old cadet school, but Lichterfelde West station became the American’s key military terminus in Berlin. Carsten’s villa colonies continued to be desirable during the years of the Cold War. Many of the most impressive houses, particularly in Lichterfelde West, had survived both allied bombing and the arrival of the Red Army in 1945, although they were now more often than not divided up into appartments. By the 1980’s, thanks to a campaign by the locally based Schwarze Rose group, a greater effort was also being made to preserve them in their original form. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall Lichterfelde’s villas have become popular with the diplomatic community and many have been extensively renovated. As for the original village, its few surviving traces still hang on bravely amidst the traffic rumbling past along the Hindenburgdamm on either side of the village green.
The village then and now
See Reinhold, Lichterfelde
Lichterfelde was laid out along a narrow green just to the west of the marshy meadows along the Bäke stream. Hindenburgdamm, former Telowerstrasse. Other street names. It would have comprised of in the region of 26 buildings around 1850. The church stood at the southern end of the green surrounded by a walled churchyard with a small firehouse just to the north. There was no vicarage in Lichterfelde as the parish was attended to by the vicar of Giesendorf from 1693. Just south of the church, roughly at the fork of the Hindenburgdamm and the Karwendelstrasse (at that time the Teltowerstrasse and the Zehlendorfer Weg), the village windmill stood on a mound surrounded by an acacia hedge with the village school between the mill and the church, standing at right angles to today’s Hindenburgdamm. The green was lined with farmhouses until the mid 19th century with the houses of the wealthier landowning farmers and the estate farm and distillery on the eastern side of the green that backed onto the Bäke meadows while those of the peasant farmers stood on the western side. At the northern end of the green there was a pond and just beyond stood the manor house. The village would also have contained at least two hostels for agricultural workers who worked on the estate farm.
Although Lichterfelde’s village green has survived in the form of an island between the north and southbound lanes of the Hindenburgdamm there is barely a trace of any of the old farms, let alone the windmill or the village school and the few original farmhouses that do remain date from the late 19th century. On the green the firehouse has gone but the old village church has survived, today dwarfed by its 19th century successor which dominates the centre of the village. The manor house is also still there, tucked up alongside the Hindenburgdamm to the north of the green, and behind it a landscaped Gutspark still stretches down to the Bäke valley, now occupied by the Teltowkanal rather than its meandering predecessor. The old village has however not been the main focal point of Lichterfelde ever since Johann Anton Carstenn started transforming the area and today it remains on the edge of things – a little scruffy and unloved – despite the fact that Lichterfelde is a well to do neighbourhood. Most of the buildings, as well as the few shops, cafés and businesses at the bottom of the western side of the green are pretty unremarkable while much of the eastern side where the estate farm buildings used to be has been dominated by the brutalist concrete hulk of the Benjamin Franklin Institute for Infectious Diseases since the late 1960’s.
The heart of the village:
Dotted with tall trees Lichterfelde’s village green may today be little more a large traffic island but it does offer something that no other Berlin village can provide, namely two village churches for the price of one. Their steeples, one low and squat the other reaching for the heavens, are a unique sight. Set within the walls of a small churchyard at the southern tip of the green the original, fieldstone village church with its boxy wooden tower is by far the oldest building still standing in Lichterfelde. It has however been subject to a fair bit of alteration over the years. Built by Cistercian monks back in the 14th century the church was largely destroyed by fire on Christmas Eve of 1631 during the Thirty Years War and was not rebuilt until 1701 after the Prussian minister Daniel Rudolph von Danckelmann took over the manor. Towards the end of the 18th century two crypts were attached to the main building. The first of these, dating from 1776, was built on the northern side of the nave for the von Bülow family, who owned the estate from 1774-1782. The second, completed in 1789, was built for the von Béguelin family after Nicolas von Béguelin – who had been the tutor to Kaiser Friedrich Wilhelm 2nd – was ennobled by the monarch and granted the estate as a gift. The von Bülow and Béguelin coats of arms can still be seen above the entrances to the crypts today. As the village expanded at the end of the nineteenth century the nave was extended east in 1895, however the church could not cater for the rapidly growing population and after the Pauluskirche was built next door in 1900 it was used as the village hall. Its appearance today owes a lot to renovation work done between 1939 and 1941 under the National Socialists, who wanted to make the church look more like a traditional Germanic Wehrkirche, or defensive church. The original narrow, gothic windows were altered to give the church a more Romanesque appearance and the nave and its extension were aligned and brought under a single roof that overhung the newly formed sacristy on the south side. The two 18th century crypts were connected to the main building and while the von Bülow crypt has remained largely unchanged the Béguelin crypt on the western side of the nave was enlarged and remodeled to create the church’s entrance portal. The family coat of arms was remounted on its gable.
The church tower, which was also frequently altered over the centuries, still has the dimensions of the half-timbered tower first built in 1735. Its weather vane, featuring a crane clutching a stone in its raised foot, is taken from the coat of arms of the von Dankelmann family, who financed the rebuilding of the church.
Inside the church the main highlight is the neoclassical tomb of Christine von Beguelin, which stands in the portal which was once the family crypt. It features a white marble relief in which two grieving angels stand either side of a portrait of the leading lady of the manor, who died in 1797 at the age of 27. The church’s gothic altar and the neo-baroque organ date from the time of the renovation work undertaken in the early years of the Second World War. The altar was donated from the village church in Ferbitz (ACCORDING TO WOLLMANN-FIEDLER. DOUBLE CHECK – POMPLUN SAYS DÖBERITZ) on the Döberiitzer Heide (heath) to the west of Berlin, which had been cleared just before the Second World War in order to make way for a military training area. Sadly the valuable altar figures were removed from the church for safe keeping during the war and have since vanished. MORE PERSONALDESCRIPTION?
Outside, the lovely little cemetery surrounding the church is enclosed on all sides by a rough stone wall and a mixture of trees and other greenery which mostly screen it from constant rumble of traffic along the Hindenburgdamm. In a corner on its south side are a number of simple war graves for the unknown dead of 1945 inscribed with the words “Wer Weiß wo?” Who knows where? , while to the north of the church the simple, boulder-like gravestone of Johann von Carstenn, stands amidst a sea of flowering plants. The grave of Carsten’s second wife, who died in 1923, stands alongside his along with the grave of his daughter?? RECHECK
For opening times of the church contact the parish office: Mo 16:00-19:00; Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 10:00-12:00, tel: 030 84 49 32 0
A straight gravel path running north from the village church across the green brings you to the Pauluskirche which towers over its more elderly neighbour. Designed by the architect Fritz Gottlob – one of the leading proponents of the redbrick Gothic revival in Berlin towards the end of the 19th century – and consecrated in 1900 the church was built to cater for a rapidly expanding congregation as the population of Lichterfelde passed 10,000. It is one of a large number of similar churches built at the time in the 14th century, North German neo-gothic style with the backing of the Kaiser and more especially his wife, Kaiserin Auguste Viktoria. Indeed the Kaiserin visited the church a few days after its consecration and donated a font and a signed altar bible. The church is built on a foundation of granite boulders and set out in the form of a cross with tall gothic windows lining the nave and a rose window on the north side – also a gift from the generous Kaiserin. The octagonal steeple, which is 66 meters high and mounted on a base that has four smaller towers at each corner, contains steel cast bells that date from 1922, the originals having been taken away and melted down during World War one. Although the new bells survived the Second World War the church was heavily damaged by a direct hit during a bombing raid on March 24th 1944 which left it completely burnt out. Fortunately the outer walls survived and it was gradually rebuilt between 1952 and 1957, more or less true to its original outer form. Inside the neo-gothic frescos lost when the church burnt out and have been replaced by a rather more sober white and yellow décor. During a later renovation in 1987 both the font and the altar bible donated by the Kaiserin were stolen and never recovered. ADD OWN IMPRESSIONS The church is open to the public every Wednesday from 17.00 to 18.30
Standing amidst the dandilions on the green just north of the church is a much smaller neo-gothic construction which looks like a bit like cross between a chapel and a toy castle. Known as the Schalthaus this electric substation was built for the BEWAG electricity company in 1901 and was designed by the same Fritz Gottlob who did the Pauluskirche. The building was quite obviously meant to fit in with the church. Indeed, it almost looks as if a piece of the Pauluskirche has been broken off in order to guard the northern approach to the green. From the outside its purpose is completely unclear, something that was typical at a time when many new public buildings were cloaked in a neo-gothic exterior. Its buttressed corner towers and solid wooden door with wrought iron decoration, give the Schalthaus a castle like appearance, while the neo-gothic windows look more like they’ve been lifted from a church. Behind this highly decorative exterior the electricity current is today still being converted to the 400 volts required for household use.
Just to the west of the Schalthaus on the opposite side of the Hindenburgdamm you’ll see the two towers guarding the entrance to the Paulus-Gemeindezentrum (parish offices). This extensive complex built in dark red brick was completed in 1930 on land sold to the parish by a local farmer. Although rather more soberly styled than the Schalthaus the towers’ pointed roofs bear more than a passing resemblance to the neo-gothic substation on the green.
The area on which the Schalthaus stands was once the site of the village pond, a place where horses were washed, ducks swam and children once paddled. Just beyond, at the northern tip of the green, Lichterfelde’s pale yellow, manor house comes into view, tucked up tightly against the roadside on the eastern side of the Hindenburgerdamm. This sizeable late classical building known locally as the “Carstennschlösschen” after its most famous inhabitant was originally built for the estate owner Ludwig von Quast in 1799 – although there appears to be some confusion as to the exact date with the Berliner Gedenktafel plaque suggesting completion was at around 1780. While we know that Quast was a lieutenant in the Gend’armes regiment the identity of the Schlösschen’s architect remains a mystery to this day. Regardless of who built it the house would have put the modest, single story dwellings of Lichterfelde’s farmers well and truly in the shade. It stands on the site of a previous manor house that was mentioned in records dating from 1299 – the foundations of which can still be seen in the walls of the cellars – as well as on the foundations of a later building from 1631, which was destroyed during the 30 years war. The Schösschen itself has been altered a number of times over the years. It seems that its two wings were added in 1800 CHECK and further changes were made in 1868 after von Carstenn moved in. Today it houses a local community centre which also has a pleasant little café open on weekdays from 09:00 – 17:00. On sunny days the café spills out onto the Schlösschen’s garden terrace from where there’s a nice view onto the Gutspark (Estate Park), ENTRY DETAILS which once stretched down towards the banks of the Bäke behind the house. First carved out of the riverside forest in 1864 and remodeled by von Carstenn a few years later the seven hectare park with its 300 year old trees provides a verdant retreat from the comings and goings on the Hindenburgdamm. Its broad lawns not only make a good spot for a summer picnic but offer a view of the manor house in which it appears much grander more Schloss-like than when seen from the Hindenburgdamm. Beyond the landscaped area immediately behind the Schlösschen, the untamed section of the park along the canal is all that’s left of the original forest and now forms a small nature reserve. From the bottom of the Gutspark it’s only a 15- 20 minute stroll north along the banks of the Teltowkanal – past the huge Klinikum Stegltiz hospital complex – to the equally green and pleasant Bäkepark (see also – worth seeing close below).
Back at the green, the only other buildings that that give even the slightest hint of Lichterfelde’s rural past are a couple of 19th century village houses on the western side at Hindenburgdamm 104 and 105. The simple dwelling number at 105 dates from 1860 and used to be the home of the village blacksmith. There’s a large, scruffy yard behind the house with what looks like a tumbledown stable block at the back CHECK – BEING RENOVATED? Next door on the corner of Stockweg at number 104 the L-shaped house with mustard colured shutters was originally built in 1861 and extended in the 1920s. The pale yellow villa beyond the blacksmith’s house at number 106 dates from 1872 is a surviving example of the early Gründerzeit buildings that started replacing the farmhouses in the late 19th century. A little further along on the corner of Hindenburgdamm and Tietzenweg – once the road to the village of Dahlem – the rather grim postwar apartment at Hindenburgdamm 136 overlooking the village church marks the site of the former “Pavillon” restaurant. Another of Johann Anton Carstenn’s projects, it was built in order to provide potential purchasers of Lichterfelde real estate with a pleasant place in which to dine and for a time became a popular venue for Berliners taking weekend carriage rides out of the city. Today it’s difficult to picture a fancy Gründerzeit building surrounded by gardens, in which formally dressed waiters served well-heeled Berliners who were considering buying building plots in the city’s new garden suburb.
Just beyond Tietzenweg a statue of Kaiser Wilhelm 1st once stood on the last patch of green where it tapers off south of the churchyard. Unveiled in 1898 the work by sculptor Ernst Wenck was removed during World War Two and has been on display in the Zitadelle in Spandau since the beginning of the 1980’s where it can still be seen today.
The twin carriageways of the Hindenburgdamm merge beyond the southern tip of the green. The last proper village school, which closed in 1886, used to stand here facing north at right angles to the road. About 100 metres further on the village windmill once stood at the fork in the road where the Karwendelstrasse – the old road to Zehlendorf – branches off to the right. It survived until 1872, perched on a low mound surrounded by an acacia hedge. From there you can make a short detour to the impressive redbrick pile that is the Lilienthal Gymnasium, which is tucked away on the Ringstraße nearby. Opened as a Realschule in 1896, the new school placed an emphasis on the sciences rather than the classics at a time when many new scientific discoveries were taking place. Kaiser Wilhelm II supported the founding of such schools, believing that the country should be “bringing up young Germans rather than young Romans or Greeks”.
Back at the green, the eastern spur of the Hindenburgdamm, which used to be lined with the manor farm complex and the houses of Lichterfelde’s landowning farmers, is has today lost all traces of its rual past. The monotany of low, postwar appartment blocks is somewhat broken by nice Gründerzeit property opposite the Pauluskirche at number 24-25. The twin houses with ground floor loggias dating from 1873 are linked by a pair of large wooden doors which would once have granted carriages access to the courtyards at the rear. Just a few steps further north on the corner of Krahmerstrasse, you’ll find a rather more recent architectural survivor in the form of the Benjamin Franklin Institute for Infectious Diseases. This brutalist imposter was erected between 1968 and 1973 on land once occupied by the estate farm, as an appendage to the Universitätsklinikum Benjamin Franklin. It now houses the Berlin Charité Hospital’s Institut for Hygiene and Environmental Medicine and is sometimes known as the “Mäusebunker” because experiments on mice are said to be performed there. Whatever happens within its grey walls, the building couldn’t be a further cry from the farmhouses and barns that once lined the eastern side of Lichterfelde’s green.
NEED A PLACE FOR THIS:
A couple more traces of the original village can be seen just the west of the Hindenburgdamm. On Dürerstr at number 45 stands the two storey redbrick house of the farm founded by the Amendt family in 1898. In 1926 the farm still had 70 cows. The farm had a dairy which amazingly operated until 1991 1992? when it was finally closed for commercial reasons. It used to be visited regularly by students of agriculture at Berlin Technical University. The front house was retained while 30 flats were built on the farm complex. With its closure the last farm in Steglitz had ceased to operate.
Around the village and further afield:
The Villa Colony Lichterfelde West
Despite the surviving charm of the old green, it’s the Kolonie Lichterfelde West that is undoubtedly the real highlight of a visit to Lichterfelde. The colony starts immediately west of the village green and covers an extensive area between the Hindenburgdamm, the Finckensteinallee and S1 S-Bahn line. Not only is it the the larger of the two villa colonies with by far the most opulent and diverse range of villas, but it also contains a string of additional interesting sites.
Anton von Carstenn had made his first fortune developing Gut Wandsbek near Hamburg and used the profits to buy the estates of Lichterfelde and Giesendorf in 1865 – having already acquired Wilmersdorf just to the north. His concept for developing the land either side of the Bäke stream was based on him providing essential infrastructure and utilities, such as roads, gas and a water supply, as well as catering for the overall look and feel of the neighbourhood – through the landscaping of streets, squares and public gardens. The buyers of his building plots were to do the planning and construction of the houses themselves, although within fairly strict guidelines set by Carstenn and his chief architect Johannes Otzen. For example, houses had to be detached or semi-detached, have front gardens and no more than two floors. Most of the villas also had a fairly high basement floor which provided accommodation for servants, with additional space in the attic. Beyond these guidelines owners were free to let their imaginations run wild when it came to design and choice of materials. Given that there was no dominant contemporary style for houses at the time they tended to take their inspiration from bygone periods – indeed there were even catalogues available in which owners and their builders could select a style of their choice. Not surprisingly this resulted in a pretty colourful assortment of architecture.
Carstenn started work quickly after purchasing the estates and by the summer of 1866 his workforce, many of them Poles who were put up in the surrounding villages, were laying out the Karwendel and Drakestrasse while the fields were still being harvested. The whole scheme was supported by an intensive advertising campaign which promoted Lichterfelde as being one of the most desirable places to live in the German Reich. The first plot was sold in 1868 and the first villa to be completed was the Villa Drake in the Karwendelstraße, built for the sculptor Friedrich Drake who designed the Siegesäule monument in Berlin. By 1870 Carstenn had sold around half of his plots, however the buyers were slow to start actually building houses, in part due to the economic downturn of 1873 known as the “Gründerkrach”. Indeed, the population of Lichterfelde, which numbered 989 in 1871, had increased to only 2051 by 1875. Not until the 1880s, when the effects of the “Krach” had worn off, did building – initially in Lichterfelde Ost – really get going. Lichterfelde West only started catching up from around 1890. Despite the slow start, by 1900 a whole new suburb inhabited by well-to-do families had sprung up amidst a network of tree lined avenues and squares to form the Gründerzeit garden suburb of Carstenn’s dreams. Sadly it was too late for the man himself, who had almost gone bust during the slump and was forced to live out the rest of his days in modest surroundings in Schöneberg.
The houses in Carstenn’s colonies are a diverse mélange of contemporary and revivalist styles popular at the time. Pointy neo-gothic towers, grand entrances framed by neo-classical columns, Romanesque arches and neo-renaissance gables rub shoulders with sober Märkisch brickwork, chunky Wilhelmine grandeur, Jugendstil flourishes and swirly baroque reliefs. The streets are lined with French and Italian renaissance villas, half timbered Tudor mansions and mock Tudor castles with moats and drawbridges, colourful German fairytale houses with steeply pitched roofs, alpine chalets with wooden balconies and carved shutters, loggias supported by columns in the form of Greek statuettes, oriel windows, stained glass, brightly painted Nordic eaves, renaissance domes and all manner of stucco adornment. You’ll even see the odd shady front veranda with a hint of the American south, not to mention glass conservatories and all manner of ornate coach houses that today serve as car ports.
There are fine villas dotted all over the colony but some of the best are to be found southwest of Drakestrasse along the Potsdamer Strasse, Marthastrasse, Kadettenweg, Paulinenstrasse, Weddigenweg and the lovely Steinäckerstrasse. Especially worth seeing are the castle villas built by Gustav Lilienthal – the brother of flyer Otto. Of the 32 houses he built 22 still remain. You’ll find a cluster on Paulinenstrasse, Weddigenweg and Marthastasse, including the house at Marthastrasse number 5 in which he lived. To the north east of the Drakestrasse some of the most impressive houses can be found along Holbeinstrasse and Tietzenweg. For more detail on individual villas see the feature box – A walk around the Villenviertel West.
Carstenn dreamed of his villas floating in a verdant sea of vegetation and despite the fact that some of the original landscaping has gone much of the intimate, green charm of his garden suburb remains. The trees he ordered from a nursery in Hamburg, still shade streets of roughly laid cobblestones lined with wrought iron garden fences and old fashioned gas-style lanterns. Although the names on the gate buzzers point to a fairly high quota of lawyers, doctors, dentists and tax advisors, many of the houses and surroundings retain a slightly unkempt look. This makes the neighbourhood seem a little more approachable than the more opulent developments in nearby Dahlem or Wannsee. You might even see occasional progressive political slogan posted on fences or in windows – the Prussian officers would be spinning in their graves.
Besides the villas themselves Lichterfelde West contains a number of other notable highlights. Most of these are west of the Drakestraße, but if you’re coming from the village green it’s worth making a short detour to the Amtsgericht Lichterfelde on the corner of Ringstraße and Söhstraße. Lichterfelde’s first courthouse opened for business on June 1st 1905 and unlike many of the slightly dour looking Wilhelmine courts opened at the time it was designed in the neo-renaissance style and fits in well with the surrounding houses. Built of light, sandstone from Saxony Anhalt the courthouse dominates the street corner and has a main entrance of elaborately carved stone framing a pair of heavy wooden doors, as well as a series of impressive gables. Attached to the courthouse by an extension built along the Söhstrasse in 1913 is a prison block which was still used for female prisoners until 2010, Behind the main building there were once glass blowing and dressmaking facilities as well as a mother and child block and in the 1980’s one of the accomodation blocks was converted into a chapel.
For a more thorough exploration of the colony the best place to start is Lichterfelde West railway station and its surrounding commercial zone, which today still forms the heart of the district. The station, with its distinctive clock tower topped by a belvedere, is built in the style of a Tuscan villa and was completed in 1872. It was one of the first suburban railway stations to be built in the Berlin area and even had a platform reserved for the the Kasier’s train when it was first opened. After the Second World War the station was used by U.S. forces as it was close to a host of key installations including the McNair, Roosevelt and Andrews barracks. An agreement allowed for sixteen daily trains to be sent along the transit route from West Germany for the supply of Allied troops. The U.S. forces station stood alongside the tracks to the left of the old station but was torn down in 2008.
The station’s pale brick façade has a portal comprising three arches which open out onto the northern end of the Basler Straße. The street widens at this point to form a bustling square a little reminiscent of a village market place lined on both sides with a good variety of local shops. On the western side of the square the large building set around a courtyard is the Westbazar, which was once an integral part of Carstenn’s suburban masterplan. It dates from 1897 and became the last surviving example of a pre-1918 shopping centre still standing in Berlin when its equivalent – the Ostbazar on the Jungfernstieg in Lichterfelde Ost – was torn down in 1955. The bazar, with its chalet style overhanging roofs, half timbered upper floors and touches of Jugendstil embellishment, looks a bit like its been stolen from one of the classic Swiss mountain resorts. Although the old mall today no longer offers the range of exotic foodstuffs it once did it, it still hosts a wide range of businesses including a well stocked branch Berlin’s Butter Lindner deli chain, which is a good place to grab a coffee and a snack.
On the opposite side of the square the building with the pointed tower on the corner of Hans-Sachs-Strasse was once home to the popular Café Sachs, which opened in 1893 and was known for its large ballroom. Its original half timbered facade was concealed behind the sober wrap still visible today in 1933. Further along on the corner of Baseler and Curtiusstraße you’ll find the much more colourful and elaborately decorated Emisch Haus, originally built in 1894 by the architect Wilhelm Sander and bought in 1902 by the businessman Paul Emisch as a base for his banking and real estate business. Not only is the building covered with late medieval paintings depicting scenes from the bible, but its façade also boasts a host of revivalist features, including a stepped gable above an alcove containing a bronze figure of saint Paul. Its onion domed corner tower is topped by a weather vane and there’s also a wooden loggia and a colourful overhanging half timbered section topped by a steeply pitched roof that has more than a hint of Bavarian farmhouse about it.
For something approaching the 19th century Lichterfelde shopping experience its worth taking a look at a couple of stores nearby that survive from that time. The Alfred Osche ironmongery store housed in a villa at Basler Straße 9 first opened in 1894 and sold everything that freshly arrived residents required in order to make their shiny new villas ship shape. It’s worth popping inside to see the 4 meter wide wall of drawers that store everything you could possibly need such as rubber seals taps, screws and nails. Another survivor from the time is the Braune and Beyer gardening store on the other side of Drake Strasse at Gardeschützenweg 135. CHECK BOTH FOR INTEREST
A good ten minutes walk from the station along Curtiusstraße – keep an eye out for the delightful italianate Florentinische Villa at number 11 – and south down Kadettenweg will bring you to the Memorial to the Prussian Cadet Corps, set on a little triangle of greenery at the point at which Paulinenstrasse and Kadettenweg meet. From here its just a few steps further along Komandantenweg – like Kadettenweg, a clear reference to the area’s military past – to the impressive wrought iron gates of the Rotherstift. Set amidst extensive gardens suurounded by an equally fine wrought iron fence, this redbrick Gothic gem dates from 1898 and is named after an organization founded by Christian Rother, a Prussian minister and first president of the Bank of Prussia. Rother, who had grown up in modest circumstances and pursued policies which supported the disadvantaged, set up the Rotherstiftung – an organization that provided for the unmarried daughters of higher bureaucrats and officers in old age – in 1840. The Rotherstift was built using proceeds from the sale of the trust’s original headquarters on Mehringdamm in Kreuzberg. It contained 46 two room apartments as well as a dance hall and a library and provided its female residents with free accomodation, medical treatment and a small pension. The building is the work of architect Alfred Koerner, who also designed many of the giant glass houses in Berlin’s Botanical Gardens. It consists of a main block crowned with an impressive stepped gable which is adorned with neo-gothic arches, friezes and glazed brickwork and connected to two additional buildings by a pair of semicircular aisles. These external blocks, laid out symmetrically but set at angles to the main building, are similarly styled and feature pointed corner towers and steeply pitched roofs. Inside the main block the key highlights are a ceiling fresco in the main stairwell which features a starry sky and a neo-gothic ribbed vault, both of which are unfortunately not visible from the main gates. The stift was used an old people‘s home for 100 years but is now owned by a housing association. It provides accommodation to people of all ages in apartments, which are apparently laid out just as they were in the 19th century. OPENING TIMES?
A couple of minutes walk from the Rotherstift you’ll find a group of identical four story redbrick apartment blocks that date from the earliest days of the Lichterfelde West. These Eisenbahnhäuser (homes for railway workers) are located in the Köhlerstrasse just north of where it crosses the Friedrichstraße and were were built on land that Johann Anton Carstenn had provided to the Berlin-Potsdamer-Magdeburger rail company in 1873. Although rather plain compared to the villas that were eventually to surround them they were set well apart in order to provide their residents with plently of light and fresh air – a rarity for working class accommodation at the time. In the first years after their construction the apartment blocks were still surrounded by fields and the residents used the part of the site to plant crops. The development once included a stable block and space for keeping domestic livestock but these ahve long since been replaced by garages.
Just south of the Rotherstift along Kommandandtenstrasse it’s also worth pausing at the Johanneskirchplatz for a glance at the Evangelische Johanneskirche, a large neo- classical rotunda of a church with an unusual domed roof. (opening times ). It was built in this rather unconventional way because of the space restrictions imposed by the site. The church itself is up a staircase on the first floor, while the parish hall is tucked underneath. When it opened in 1914 the Kaiserin donated a crucifix, two altar candle holders in gilded bronze, a large silver font and an altar bible.
South of the Johanneskirchplatz the former Prussian Cadet School on the Finckensteinallee is the most significant – if not the prettiest – site in Lichterfelde West. ADD DIAGRAM KADETTENANSTALT – SEE IMAGES FILE . Today the home of the Bundesarchiv (Federal Archive) it occupies a large compound between Finckensteinallee and Altdorferstrasse at what had been the highest point of the former Lichterfelde estate and previously the site of a sheep farm. The sprawling redbrick complex was built between 1873 and 1878 as an educational establishment for the cadets who were to form the Kaiser’s guard and elite troops – basically a Prussian Sandhurst or West Point – at a time when the Prussian army was on an absolute high after defeating the Austrians in 1866 and the French in 1870/71. The function and architecture of the site changed frequently over the years, reflecting the changing political situation in Germany from the founding of the Reich until the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Johann Anton Carstenn signed the agreement that would bring Prussia’s Kadettenanstalt to Lichterfelde in October 1871. The 21 hectare green field site chosen to replace the cadet school’s cramped quarters at Littenstrasse in Berlin Mitte had been personally selected by Albrecht von Roon, Prussia’s Minister of War and approved by Kaiser Wilhelm I himself. In gifting the land to the state Carstenn hoped to attract the well-to-do officer class families to his new villa colonies while at the same time generating passenger numbers for the Anhalter Bahn, who’s station in Lichtertelfe Ost was essential for linking the new suburb to Berlin. Under the terms of the agreement Carstenn was responsible for connecting the site to the water and gas supply as well as surfacing the surrounding roads and establishing a public transport link to his new railway station in Lichterfelde Ost. In fulfilling these last of these obligations he even ended up investing in the world’s first electric tram line. Alas the economy was to take a downturn in the Gründerkrach of 1873 and land prices collapsed, landing Carstenn’s suburban project in serious difficulties. Unable to fulfill his financial obligations he was taken to court by the Prussian state and although a settlement was eventually reached Carstenn was left largely ruined.
The foundation stone for the school was laid in the presence Kaiser Wilhelm on September 1st 1873 and it was opened five years later, still mostly surrounded by open fields. The huge and ostentatious compound built in redbrick comprised eighteen buildings, with four main barracks blocks set around a huge parade and drilling ground. There was also an HQ building, staff accommodation blocks, a workshop, stables, a gymnasium, a mess hall that could seat all 1000 cadets and an infirmary. The main block on the Altdorfstrasse housed accommodation for teachers and higher bureaucrats as well as two places of worship: a Protestant church which became known as “der Kadettendom” and a Catholic chapel. The church’s dome was topped with a bronze figure of Saint Michael holding a raised sword. The parade ground was overlooked by a large statue of the “Idsted – also known as the Flensburg – Lion”, a trophy from Prussia’s victory in a war against Denmark in 1864 (see also Stolpe/Wannsee). At the heart of the new complex the walls of the festive hall known as the “Feldmarschallssaal” (Field Marshall’s Hall) were adorned with the portraits of 70 Prussian field marshals together with Napolean’s sword, which had been brought to Berlin after victory over the French at Waterloo in 1815. Around 70 military officers and 40 civilian staff were responsible for teaching the officer cadets, who received military training alongside their classic school education. Pupils, such as Manfred Freiherr von Richthofen, who became famous as the World War One flying ace the Red Baron, were mostly from higher military and aristocratic families and many went on to take leading positions in the armed forces or in state bureaucracy. The list of the cadets who attended the school reads like a “Who’s Who” of pre-World War Two Germany, including President Paul von Hindenburg, Chancellor Franz von Papen, Reichmarshal Hermann Goering, and Parachute General Kurt Student not to mention a host of other top Wehrmacht generals. As a result Lichterfelde became both a byword for the education of the Prussian military elite and a highly desirable address for the aritocratic families of the officer corps.
The cadet school was closed after World War One in accordance with conditions imposed on Germany under the Versailles Treaty. During the years of the Weimar Republic the complex housed a public boy’s school, however the building was quickly returned to military use when the National Socialists came to power in 1933. First to move in was the SA’s guards unit, the SA-Stabswache, followed in December 1934 by the “Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler”, Hitler’s bodyguard regiment commanded by infamous Josef “Sepp” Dietrich, which later became the 1st SS Panzer Division. On the so-called “Night of Long Knives” on June 30th 1934 a number SA leaders were executed by SS firing squads in the grounds of the compound. The execution courtyard and surrounding buildings still exist at the corner of Finckensteinallee & Baseler Strasse, close to where the hospital block and morgue were located.
To meet Waffen SS standards the complex was enlarged to the north between 1934 and 1938 and the existing buildings modernized. Two of the original barracks blocks were demolished and replaced with new buildings and an administration block was built on the west side of the complex in the sober style favoured by the Nazis, along with new vehicle workshops and a rifle range. The guardhouses were enlarged and the main entrance moved from the to the Finckensteinallee where two huge stone sentinels in the form of SS “Rottenführer” guarded the gates PHOTO? The SS also built themselves what at the time was the largest indoor swimming pool in Europe with a 50 by 25 meter pool, 10 meter diving board and a partly transparent roof.
At the end of World War Two the compound was taken over by US forces and went on to become a major military facility during the Cold War. The Americans renamed the complex the Andrews Barracks in 1947 and it became home to various infantry divisions and the military police of the U.S. Berlin Command. Especially popular with Berliners were the 20th – later the 42nd – Engineering Company and the 298th army band – the band for its performances at public events and the engineers for building countless children’s playgrounds in the US sector. The Americans built new buildings to replace those damaged during the war, including visitor accomodation at the northern end of the compound and new barracks buildings along the Altdorfer Strasse. In 1953 they demolished the damaged church and replaced it with the interdenominational Andrews Chapel, which was built in the New England style in the centre of the compound. Surviving Nazi buildings including the swimming pool were also put to use but the giant stone soldiers at the main entrance were entombed within remodelled concrete pillars.
After the departure of U.S. forces in 1996 the entire site was handed over to the German federal authorities and become a branch of the Federal Archive – with the exception of the swimming pool which went to the state of Berlin. The Finckensteinallee archive today holds documents on the communist party, state administration and mass organizations of the former GDR and contains 1.4 million volumes. It is open to the public from Monday to Thursday between 09:00 and 19:00 and from 08:00 to 16:00 on Fridays. Although housed in existing buildings, including the one surviving wing of the original school, a new building was added in 2009 and there are plans for more.
Today very little remains of the original complex and the mish mash of architecture contained within the two meter fence instead reflects Germany’s changing political history since the days of the Kaiser. All of the buildings on the site have have however been listed monuments since 1986. The only survivor of the four original barracks blocks is a section of the north east wing which is set back from the Theklastrasse which runs along the eastern side of the site. In keeping with official buildings at the time its style is heavily influenced by the Schinkel school, with Märkisch red bricks, arched windows, neoclassical elements and decorative features such as friezes that glorified the art of war. On the cornices you’ll find intricate terracotta representations featuring typical military artwork including representations of mars, bundles of weapons, decorative helmets and the Prussian eagle.
The large building facing the main entrance on the Finckensteinallee is the one built for the SS “Leibstandarte” between 1937 and 1940. The guard houses built at the same time are also still there, as is the SS’s swanky swimming pool complex, which is on the right after you enter the main gate. The building has been completely renovated and is now open to the public. The entrance to the indoor pool is guarded by a couple of impressive oversized stone friezes depicting a naked woman and a naked man, very much in the style favoured by National Socialists. Inside the signs that say “no running” and “no smoking” are a reminder of the time when the Americans ran the site. If you fancy a quick dip in the pool once used by Hitler’s bodyguard regiment the opening times are: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 06:00-22:00; Wednesday 13:00-22:00; Saturday 09:00-18:30 and Sunday 10:00 – 18:00. The Andrews Chapel ist on the left as you enter the main gate and today houses the Bundesarchiv library’s reading room.
Should you have time for more 19th Prussian military history you might want to head back east of the Drakestrasse to Gardeschuetzenweg to see the Gardeschützenkaserne between Tietzenweg and Moltkestrasse. Largely intact, it was built in 1884 to house the Royal Prussian Guards Regiment who had outgrown their barracks in Kreuzberg. Under the National Socialists it later became the German Army Ordnance School. After World War Two U.S. forces renamed the complex after Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt Jr., the eldest son of President Theodore Roosevelt who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor after being killed 36 days after leading the first wave onto Utah Beach on D-Day. The Roosevelt Barracks complex was home to the 3rd & 16th U.S. Infantry Regiments for five years after the war and thereafter housed the 6941st Guard Battalion, a German unit that provided security to U.S. installations in Berlin. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall the complex has been used by the ‘Bundesnachrichtendienst’, the German secret service, which explains it being blanked out on Google Street as well as the many cameras. NEED PERSONAL DESCRIPTION. SEE WHAT FINCKENSTEIN COMPLEX WOULD HAVE BEEN LIKE
If visiting the Cadet School you might also want to take a quick look at the pretty Roman Catholic Heilige-Familie-Kirche (Church of the Holy Family), which you’ll find on Kornesserstrasse a few steps east of Theklastrasse. Consecrated in 1904 this Märkisch neo-gothic church is the work of Christoph Hehl who did a host of similar Catholic churches in Berlin including the Rosenkranz Basilica in Steglitz. For the Heilige-Familie-Kirche Hehl based his design on the redbrick basilica of the Cistercian monastery in Lehnin, south west of Berlin. The church served a congregation which included domestic servants from Silesia recruited by Lichterfelde’s bourgeois and officer class, as well as men who worked on the construction of the Teltowkanal, many of whom also came from Silesia and Galicia in Poland. It’s worth strolling through the church’s walled garden to see the charming half-timbered vicarage at the back of the site.
A short walk west of the Cadet School along Altdorfer Strasse the former Rittberg Krankenhaus (Rittberg Hospital) stands amidst gardens on the corner of Carstennstrasse. Founded by the Berlin Society of Homeopathic Doctors, the hospital first opened in 1904 on a green field site purchased by the society after an application to build in Berlin had been rejected. The immaculately renovated building was designed by Theodor Thöns and although reserved in style it manages to combine a quirky mixture of neo-baroque and Jugendstil elements. With its pale yellow pilasters, balustrades, friezes and a wavy central gable crowned with a distinctive canopy in the form of a bell the building has more in common with a Schloss than with a hospital. INSIDE The reception hall contains two reliefs featuring female figures symbolising the harmonic connection between traditional medicine and homeopathy. The figure to the right of the main door is holding the rod of Asclepsius while in the woman in the relief on the left is holding a snake, the symbol of homeopathy. When the hospital opened as the Homöopathische Heil- und Lehranstalt (homeopathic healing and teaching hospital) the whole concept of homeopathic medicine was considered very modern. Treatment emphasized the benefits of light, air, a good diet and exercise and none of the wards had more than four beds. However the hospital’s existence turned out to be rather short lived. After being partly used by the Red Cross when the First World war broke out it was forced to close for financial reasons before thostilities came to an end. In 1918 the building was sold to the Gräfin Rittberg Schwestern Verein, a society of nurses which was later to become part of the Red Cross. Thereafter it became an ordinary hospital that focused on the training of nurses. An extension was added along the Murtener Strasse in 1927 and more buildings followed during the 1930s. The hospital was eventually closed in 1990 and was for a time used as a film set in TV hospital dramas. It was completely renovated and extended in 1999 and became the headquarters of the general secretariat and presidium of the German Red Cross, which it has housed since 2001. The grounds of the hospital contain official war graves from 1945 in which at least 40 people are buried. Some of them are women who committed suicide out of fear of being raped by advancing Russian soldiers. Also among those took their own lives were the hospital’s chief doctor and head of the obstetrics and gynaecological department Kurt-Otto von Stuckrad who died alongside his wife and two grown up daughters.
Carstenn is seen by some in restrospect as a speculator, exploiter, but also by others as forward thinking and clever, someone whodeveloped healthy living areas rather than Mietskasernen = seen by history as a mixture.
Carstenn had a vision of connecting Berlin and Potsdam with his colonies to create a great city. He also bought the Gut Wilmersdorf.
CARSTENN – WENT BUST BECAUSE OF PROMISES MADE BUILDING CADET SCHOOL. BEFUDDLED BY PATRIOTISM
Along the Teltowkanal and the Villa Colony Lichterfelde Ost
If you head east from the village green along the Krahmerstrasse you’ll quickly reach the Teltowkanal, which can be crossed using the Krahmerbrücke footbridge. The straight line of the canal offers little to remind you of the Bäke stream winding its way through marshes and meadows. NEED TO DECIDE HERE IF WE PUT GENERAL TELTOWKANAL HISTORY HERE OR IN A BOX EITHER UNDER LICHTERFELDE OR GIESENDORF. Construction of the canal along the section that passed Lichterfelde took longer than on most of its route and was particularly challenging because of the masses of extremely muddy soil that needed to be removed. Sand had to be filled in to a depth of 17 meters and bridges had to be supported by iron piles. Over 2000 men worked on the canal at any one time including many foreigners, especially Poles, but also Italians, Croats and Russians. The building of the canal left the Bäketal in a complete mess with huge piles of earth dumped along the side of the canal which was abandoned as wasteland for many years. When the banks were finally landscaped they became a nice place for Lichterfelders to meet and take a stroll.
It’s a pleasant walk south along the tree lined Eduard Spranger Promenade on the eastern side of the canal. As you reach the Bäkestrasse the Restaurant Tomasa housed in a neoclassical Lichterfelde Ost villa makes for a good place to stop for lunch or quick drink on the terrace. Beyond the Tomasa the rather scruffy Park am Lilienthal Denkmal is laid out along the side of the canal. At the northern end of the park looking onto a grassy clearing, you’ll find the Lilienthal Denkmal, a memorial to the pioneering aviator Otto Lilienthal who made some of his first attempts to glide in Lichterfelde Süd in 1894. Designed by the sculptor Peter Breuer and erected in 1914 the monument is considered an outstanding work amongst the rash of public statues erected in Berlin and elsewhere in Germany during the late Wilhelmine period. It consists of a lithe Ikarus set in bronze who’s poised and ready for take-off on top of a five meter high stone plinth of granite and sandstone. The front side of the plinth also features a frieze depicting the aviator himself (see also Giesendorf p??), while at the back the visionary words of Leonardo da Vinci, the greatest pioneering aviator of the Italian renaissance have been chiselled into the stone. Lilienthal ended up suffering a fate similar to that of Ikarus, crashing to his death while gliding in Stölln west of Berlin 1896 NEED TO DECIDE WHERE TO HAVE THE KEY LILIENTHAL INFORMATION – HERE OR GIESENDORF?
Otto Lilienthal wurde 1848 in Anklam geboren und starb 1896 nach einem Flugunfall. Lilienthals historische Bedeutung begründet sich vor allem in seiner Leistung als Flugpionier. Er ist bekannt für Flugversuche mit Flugapparaten, die er auf theoretischer Grundlage unternahm und kontinuierlich verbesserte. Dabei gelangen ihm Flüge bis zu einer Weite von 250 Metern. Lilienthal wohnte in der Boothstr. 17 in Lichterfelde. Er führte hauptberuflich die Dampfkessel- und Maschinenfabrik Otto Lilienthal.
Beyond the park you’ll spot Lichterfelde’s open air swimming pool on the other side of the canal. The pool is known locally as the „Spucki“ (little spit) because it was very small when it first opened. Before the Teltowkanal was built there were two swimming pools on the swampy left bank of the Bäke. The Kaiser-Friedrich-Bad, which opened in 1888 and was known for the peaty undersoil that turned its pool water brown, closed when the Teltowkanal was built. A second pool opened in 1891 a little further south along the Hindenburgdamm after the discovery of a salt spring. Although the salt content was not high enough for it to become an officially recognized spa the owner of the site, Captain Max Drake, opened a pool complex with a spa, restaurant and park which survived until 1899. The original Spucki was opened after construction of the Teltowkanal in 1907 and included a restaurant with a large café terrace with room for 500 people. It was closed in 1943 after being damaged in a bombing raid but reopened after the war. The complex had to be completely renovated in 1990’s as its swimming pools had started sinking into the still boggy canalside ground.
Just before you reach the Emil-Schulz-Brücke the canalside path passes the unusual little Treidelbahndenkmal which harks back to the days when the Teltowkanal was a major transport artery. Displayed in a glass display box – in which it looks a bit like a giant insect – is one of the original Treidellokomotiven (electric mules) that ran on tracks along the tow path and pulled barges along the canal. The use of such mules meant that a barge’s propeller could be switched off thus preventing damage to the banks of the canal caused by a boat’s wash. The locomotive on display was one of 20 such contraptions working on the canal until the end of the Second World War after which much of the equipment was carted off by the Russians. If you look into the surrounding shrubbery you’ll see that it’s pulling the prow of an original canal barge.
From the Emil-Schulz-Brücke, where the old road from Giesendorf to Lichterfelde once crossed the Bäke, the busy Königsberger Strasse leads into the Villenkolonie Lichterfelde Ost. On the way you’ll pass a villa with a wooden corner veranda and belvedere at number 29 which is one of the oldest surviving houses in colony. Just off the Königsberger Strasse are the remains of the Rathaus Groß-Lichterfelde, the district’s once impressive town hall. Completed in 1894, the Rathaus stood on the Goethestrasse and was the first of a series of new Rathauses built in the suburbs of Berlin between 1890 and 1916. It was meant to form the centerpiece of the new heart of Lichterfelde south of the old village, however the neo-gothic building with its sturdy corner tower, cellar restaurant, ballroom, police station and prison was destroyed in World War Two. There’s not much to see now except for a pair of surviving extensions that were added in during the First World War.
The heart of the Villenkolonie Lichterfelde Ost lies just to the north of the Königsberger Strasse and is centered on the Marienplatz and the streets leading off it. It was the first of Carstenn’s two colonies to be developed, in part because its new railway station on the Anhalter line opened in 1868, four years before the station in Lichterfelde West. Despite this it was only during the 1880s that homes started being built in significant numbers. The villas here are less impressive and fewer in number than in Lichterfelde West, in part because the first houses to be built were more sober in style and also because Lichterfelde Ost took something of clattering in the Second World War. Quite of lot of what was not destroyed in the war subsequently fell victim to clumsy postwar redevelopment and there was no organization formed to protect heritage as there was in Lichterfelde West. Quite a number of villas have however survived and these are mostly dotted along the tree-lined avenues northwest of Lichterfelde Ost station.
At the heart of the neighbourhood the Marienplatz has a pleasant, landscaped green at its centre, where Carstenn had originally intended to build a church. Shaded by tall lime trees it’s a good spot for sitting down and taking a breather. The square is criss-crossed by paths laid out in the form of a four leafed cloverand has been carefully renovated to look just as it did at the turn of the 20th century. There are listed villas at Marienplatz 7 dating from 1893 and just off the square at Marienstraße 24 (from 1891). Just to the north there are a number of nice houses on the Boothstrasse, which is named after the Hamburg based landscape gardener James Booth, who Carstenn commissioned to design some green spaces at the southern end of the Drakestrasse in Lichterfelde West. At number 15 on the corner of Hartmannstraße you’ll find a listed villa with a lovely covered veranda built in 1888 by the architect Richard Reinhold Hintz. Nearby at number 16 the huge white mansion built in 1891 would not look out of place in Notting Hill and a bit further up at number 22 is a pretty white villa with gothic tower, red window frames and a balcony that dates from 1893 has a touch of the Adams Family about it. The large and fairly sober white villa with green wooden shutters at 20a somewhat surprisingly houses the Ethiopian Embassy and was built later than the others in 1936. The home of Otto Lilienthal also used to stand in the Boothstraße at number 17 but it has not survived. In Bassermannweg, which runs parallel to Boothstrasse, the sandy coloured, two story brick houses from 7b to 11a are all done with bay windows in the English country manor style and form a terrace. South of Marienplatz on Bahnhofstrasse, which was one of the first streets of the neighbourhood to be laid out, the villa of redbrick and mustard yellow plaster at 38b dating from 1872 with its lovely flower decoration and terrace tucked away at the side is one of the oldest surviving houses in Lichterfelde Ost. There are other nice old houses at number 35 (from 1883) and 37a (from 1895).
One surviving gem that was completed a little later than most of the villas in the neighbourhood is the Landhaus Rummel at number 15B Promenadenstrasse. It was built for a captain D. Otto Rummel in 1926 and designed by Heinrich Straumer, who is better known as being the architect responsible for the Berliner Funkturm in Charlottenburg and the Martin-Niemöller-Haus in Dahlem (link). Straumer was an advocate of the English Arts and Crafts movement, which favoured a restrained form of modernism that still left room for the traditional and down to earth. In keeping with this philosophy the clean lines of the Landhaus Rummel’s redbrick façade and muntin windows are softenend by a half timbered bay window section, a front doorway in the form of a round arch and a pair of decorative chimneys. Although the building appears boxy when seen from the front, the side facing onto the garden is dominated by a soaring pointed gable. Inside the house has been preserved in more or less in its original form, even down to the door fittings, which were designed by Straumer himself. For the past 50 years the building has been used by the local Mennonite community. Fans of Straumer’s work might also want to look at two houses he designed in Lichterfelde West, on Ringstraße 89 and Augustastraße 23.
Nearer to the station at Jungfernstieg 19 the large villa of ocre coloured brick with round towers at each corner that looks a bit like a small castle is one of the neighbourhood’s highlights. The Villa Folke Bernadotte is named after the Swedish diplomat and philanthropist Folke Bernadotte, who successfully negotiated the release of thousands of concentration camps inmates with Heinrich Himmler in 1945 and was assasinated in Jerusalem in 1948, while fulfilling his duties as UN Security Council Mediator in Palestine. Built in 1885 the villa later became the home and private research laboratory of the electro-physicist and inventor Manfred von Ardenne, who bought it with proceeds from his many inventions and lived there from 1928 until 1945. Although the house survived the Second World War intact von Ardenne was carted off to the Caucasus by the Red Army and went on the work on the Soviet atom bomb, subsequently receiving the Stalin prize for his efforts. The house was bought by the Berlin authorities in 1951 and is today run as a recreational centre for childrena and adolescents. The 8 metre high room in which Manfred von Ardenne worked on the development of cathode ray tubes still exists in the cellar.
Two of the finer buildings that once graced the Jungfernstieg sadly didn’t survive the Second World War. The Gesellschaftshaus Lichterfelde stood almost opposite the Villa Folke Bernadotte at Jungfernstieg 14 and was built in 1871 as a sort of club or societies house. Old photographs show a large and opulent neo-Gothic villa set in gardens with first floor terraces and a Reichstag style domed roof. The building was designed by Johannes Otzen, the manager of Carstenn’s real estate company who was responsible for overall planning of the villa colonies. The house later became a restaurant DOUBLE CHECK REINHOLD, LICHTERFELDE popular with day trippers from Berlin and also provided the venue for the election of Groß Lichterfelde’s first district council in 1878. After 1889 it became a psychiatric sanatorium and in the 1930s an old people’s home. Partly burnt out in World War Two the building was demolished in 1962. A little further along the street the block of unremarkable postwar appartments at number 25 on the corner of Bahnhofstrasse marks the site where the Ostbazar once stood. Lichterfelde Ost’s answer to the Westbazar was designed by the architect Richard Reinhold Hintz and completed in 1891. The building was heavily damaged towards the end of World War Two and later demolished. Photographs show a complex of shops and apartments even grander than its counterpart in Lichterfelde West.
Opposite the site of the former Ostbazar the northwest entrance to the Bahnhof Lichterfelde-Ost (Lichterfelde-Ost Station) faces out onto a small square at the top of Bahnhofstrasse, which is home to a couple of cafés and an ice cream parlour. The railway station is one of the oldest in Berlin and in many ways the most important building in the neighbourhood. The first train pulled into Anton Carstenn’s new facility on September 20th 1868, making a daily commute from Lichterfelde to Berlin possible for the first time, although regular commuter services only began in 1876. In order to achieve this Carstenn had had to sign a contract with the Anhalter Bahn in which he guaranteed that a minimum number of passengers would use the station. Indeed, this was one of the reasons he was so keen to attract Prussia’s Cadet School to Lichterfelde. And just in case Carstenn’s suburban masterplan did ultimately fail the station’s central ticket hall had been designed to be especially high so that it could doubled as a barn. Today intercity expresses on their way to Dresden and Prague glide past on tracks that were raised above street level when the station was remodelled between 1913 and 1916. Travellers enter the main ticket office on the north western side of the tracks through a pair of dark green wooden doors set between a couple of sturdy, pale grey pilasters. The portal was once crowned with a steep roof and clock gable but both were removed during renovation in the early 1980’s. What has survived is the station’s traditional Bahnhofswirtschaft restaurant, which looks onto the square and serves a selection of traditional German dishes. On the opposite side of the tracks, the entrance from the Kranoldplatz is framed by a handsome neo-classical portal topped with a tympanum that has a decorative clock at its centre.
Inside the station the ticket hall still has some nice original features and also contains a set of panels providing information about the world’s first electrically powered tram service which once ran from here to the officer cadet school in Lichterfelde West. For a more tangible memorial you can walk the short distance to the tiny Denkmal zur ersten Straßenbahn der Welt (memorial to the world’s first electric tram service), which is tucked away close to the railway tracks where Königsberger Straße meets Morgenternstrasse. It was from more or less this spot that Carstenn’s tram made its first ever journey, whisking passengers 2.5 kilometers to the new cadet school in Finckensteinallee. The memorial was erected in 1983 commemorates the 125th anniversary of the opening of the service on May 16th 1881. It consists of a short section of track set in cobblestones along with a copy of the original timetable mounted on a cast iron iron sign in the shape of a tram wheel. The electric tram had been developed by Werner von Siemens in the grounds of his home at Schloss Biesdorf (link) and after unveiling it at the Berliner Gewerbeausstellung (trade exhibition) of 1879 he was eager to try out his new invention. Carstenn’s suburban project provided the perfect opportunity. The converted horsecar carriage used could carry 12 seated passengers and 8 standing and reached speeds of up to 20 km/h along a line which had originally been laid for the transportation of building materials needed for the construction of the cadet school. A one way trip cost 20 Pfennig and took 10 minutes with trams departing hourly. The line initially ran alongside the Anhalter Bahn and then followed a gentle curve along today’s Bogenstrasse cutting through the Bäke meadows between Goethestrasse and Giesendorferstrasse to cross the stream more or less where the Königsbergerstrasse crosses the Teltowkanal today. From there it continued along Finckensteinallee to the northern gates of the cadet school. In financing the project Carstenn not only fulfilled his promise to provide the state with a public transport link to the cadet school but also kept the Anhalter Bahn happy by helping to make sure that enough passengers used Lichterfelde Ost station. While Carstenn gradually sank under the weight of his financial obligations the tramline proved a success and was extended, initially to Lichterfelde West station and later to Steglitz.
Worth a try Nearby
A short walk north along the Teltowkanal beyond the Gutshaus park and past the huge Universitätsklinikum Benjamin Franklin hospital, built in the 1960’s with 60 million deutschmarks of U.S. financial support, brings you to the pretty little Bäkepark. In the narrow park which slopes down towards the Teltowkanal for about a kilometer you get at least some sense of what the Bäke valley might once have looked like. What survives of the Bäke stream (see also Steglitz, page….) surfaces at the Haydnstrasse at the top of the park having been channeled underground for a few kilometers from its source on Steglitz’s Fichteberg. The stream flows down a narrow man-made channel that cuts through the middle of the park and finally spills into a large pond at the bottom known as the Bäketeich, from where it is fed into the Teltowkanal via a short pipeline. On summer days there’s barely a trickle of water and it’s hard to imagine that the Bäke once drove a number of water mills. Lawns fringed by a fine collection of tall trees slope down towards the stream making the park an ideal location for sunbathing and picnicking. There are paths for joggers and cyclists, as well as an elaborate children’s play area.
The Siemensvilla stands on the corner of Gärtnerstrasse and Callendristrasse on the edge of Lankwitz’s Komponistenviertel (Composers Quarter – see also Lankwitz page…) just north of the Kolonie Lichterfelde Ost. More of a Schloss than a villa this palatial home, was originally known as the “Herrenhaus Correns” when completed in 1916 for the businessman Friedrich Christian Correns who’d made his money in batteries. Two years after Correns’s death in 1923 the house was sold to the industrialist Werner-Ferdinand von Siemens and it has been known as the Siemensvilla ever since. It was designed by the Lankwitz based architect Fritz Freymüller, also responsible for the fire station in the Plantagestrasse in Steglitz and the Stadion Lichterfelde with its distinctive vaulted grandstand. In contrast to both of those buildings the Siemensvilla was built in the historicist style with a neo-classical portal and plenty of domes and pillars as well as a large conservatory. The house’s interior covers 3700 square meters and contains around 80 rooms including a concert hall can seat 400 people, which Siemens added after demolishing the conservatory. The hall became known for its good acoustics and often used for making recordings. After Siemens died the family sold the house to the German Reich and it became home to the German Ibero-Amerika Institut from 1941 to 1976 and later to the music archive of the German National Library (from 1978 to 2010). All of the music published on any format in Germany, Austria and Switzerland (including records, cassettes, CD’s and music scores) was collected and archived in the house until the archive moved to Leipzig in 2010. The villa was sold shortly afterwards and is now back in private hands.
Behind the house there’s a fine landscaped garden which is the work of Carl Riemann who also laid out the municipal park in Lankwitz (see page …). The garden has lost its main fountain but still contains a pavilion originally meant for tea ceremonies but later used mostly for musical performances. Both the front section of the house and the garden are open to the public Monday – Thursday from 09:00 to 15:00 and on Friday from 09:00 to 14:00. You’ll find the main entrance on the Calandrelli Strasse. The house is open to visitors