The Reichstag

Thursday, 10th November 2005 by

Update: A couple of our readers have pointed out some inaccuracies with this post, which I intend to address. Firstly, we accept that we quoted incorrect information, and that the Nazi party never did much of anything with the Reichstag… except burn it down of course. We must also accept that our readers are right that, in US political terms, a closer comparison to the German Bundestag would be the House of Representatives, and not the Senate… basically because we don’t know what either of them do. And finally, we failed to mention that it was Christo who wrapped the Reichstag due to our own naive assumption that people would have prior knowledge of his work, and would make the mental leap to connect the two. Our apologies on all three counts.

Opened in 1894, the Reichstag is home to the German Bundestag (‘Parliament’ in the UK, or ‘Senate’ in the US).

The Reichstag is named for the original German Parliament which convened here until 1933, after which it became home to Hitler’s Nazi Party. The building was set on fire that year, which led to the passing of the infamous Reichstag Fire Decree, a bill which effectively suspended most basic human rights, and introduced the death penalty for a large number of offenses.

Since then the building has been ruined, been rebuilt (with a fabulous new rooftop dome), been an exhibition centre, been wrapped in fireproof polypropylene fabric, and finally been reconstructed again.

And that’s just the edited highlights! Check the Wikipedia page for the full story.

A little to the west you can see the Bundeskanzleramt (the chancellor’s office), which is known locally as Waschmaschine (washing machine) and according to Wikipedia, is the largest government HQ in the world (although that doesn’t seem to make sense to me…)

Thanks to Alexander Ilg, Lars, Serge Lyubomudrov, Frank Castle, Sebastian J, Patrik Renmark and Robert.