What Berlin looked like in the 1930s through these Captivating Historical Photos

Berlin in the 1930s was a city of contrasts, brimming with excitement and tension, a metropolis witnessing significant cultural, political, and historical shifts. From vibrant nightlife to the encroaching shadows of political turmoil, it was a decade of change that would define Berlin and the world at large for years to come.

Berlin, known as the “City of Light,” was the heart of Germany’s cultural scene in the early 1930s. Berlin’s art scene was lively, drawing artists and writers from all over Europe and America, eager to be part of the artistic movement known as the Weimar culture. This movement, named after the fledgling Weimar Republic, gave birth to a vibrant and diverse cultural scene. Literature, theater, music, and the visual arts flourished, with Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill transforming the theatre scene, and painters like George Grosz and Otto Dix pushing the boundaries of visual art with their avant-garde styles.

At the same time, a youthful and wild energy permeated the city. Cabaret shows were the talk of the town, known for their decadence and social commentary, performed in smoke-filled halls where the elite and the common folk would gather to enjoy the spectacle. Jazz music, a recent import from the United States, permeated the air, and dance halls were filled to the brim. The film industry was also booming, with Marlene Dietrich becoming an international sensation following her performance in ‘The Blue Angel.’

However, amidst this vibrant culture, the city was grappling with economic and political instability. The Great Depression, which began in 1929, hit Germany particularly hard. Unemployment was high, and the political climate became increasingly turbulent. The Nazi Party, led by Adolf Hitler, was gradually gaining strength and influence, culminating in Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor of Germany in January 1933. This was a pivotal moment that would drastically change the city’s trajectory.

Under the Nazi regime, the freedoms and vibrancy that defined Berlin in the early ’30s began to fade. The new government started to impose strict controls on many aspects of life, including the arts. Many artists, intellectuals, and others who didn’t align with the Nazi ideology were forced to flee, leading to a significant cultural and intellectual drain. The once bustling nightlife became subdued, and the atmosphere of the city dramatically shifted.

Here are some fascinating historical photos that will take you back to the 1930s in Berlin.

#5 Charlottenstraße at the junction of Französische Straße with the main North-South tram route, Berlin, 1930

#17 Parisian Place with views of Tiergarten, the Kroll Opera House, the Victory Column, and the Reichstag, Berlin, 1930

#28 Unter den Linden – Memorial Hall for all who fell in the Great War, Berlin, 1930

#29 Unter den Linden – The Honorary Monument with a guards parade, Berlin, 1930

#41 Wilhelmplatz, Kaiserhof Straße with the Kaiserhof on the right, Berlin, 1930

#61 Economic crisis: Rush demand on material assets, Berlin, 1930

#62 One of the last horse-coaches in Berlin, Berlin, 1930

#63 Members of the German aerial-defense, Berlin, 1930

#65 Travel, Cities, Germany, Berlin, 1930s, The famous landmark of Berlin, the Brandenburg Gate, pictured as it was before World War Two

#66 Monowheel performance in front of the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin, 1930

#67 Yearly before the opening of the Wannsee beach several people searching for valuable objects, Berlin, Germany, 1930

#68 Bading women at the Wannsee, Berlin, Germany, 1930

#69 Birthplace of Gustav Stresemann, German politician, Berlin, 1930

#70 Vacation of a building by the Nationalsozialisten, Berlin, 1930

#76 View from Potsdamer Platz towards Leipziger Strasse, Berlin, 1930

#78 Germany, Berlin: Policeman controlling the traffic at a road sign in the ‘Bismarckstrasse/Leibnizstrasse,’ Berlin, 1930

#81 Germany, Berlin: Unter den Linden: Cafe Kranzler at night, Berlin, 1930

#82 Germany Berlin: Traffic on the Jannowitzbruecke: tram, pedestrians and cars are crossing the Spree, Berlin, 1952

#83 Hotel Eden in the Budapester Strasse, Berlin, 1930s

#88 Germany, Berlin: Alexanderplatz: S-Bahn station, the business building Berolinahaus under construction and the department store Hermann Tietz, Berlin, 1930

#89 Germany Free State Prussia Berlin Berlin Potsdamer Platz station: the oldest part of the station, with the loading ramp, Berlin, 1938

#91 Hair Salon In The Karstadte Department Store, Berlin, 1930s

#92 Berlin – center: The Spittelkolonnaden, Berlin, 1928

#94 Germany, Berlin: Station Gesundbrunnen, Berlin, 1930

#96 Confrontation Between Communists And Policemen In The Streets Of Berlin, Berlin, 1930

#100 Crowd Saluting Nazis During Parade, Berlin, 1930s

#101 Germany Free State Prussia Berlin: Originally tramway tunnel at the street Unter den Linden; today non-existent, Berlin, 1930

#105 Berlin Unter den Linden, Ecke Oberwallstrasse, Berlin, 1930s

#109 Anti-Semitic Paintings On A Jewish Store, Berlin, 1930

#110 Small Shareholders In Front Of A Bank, Berlin, 1931

#111 Foule devant une caisse d’épargne, Berlin, 1931

#112 Des policiers accourent pour faciliter le passage de la voiture d’Hitler, Berlin, 1932

#114 Thousands Welcome U.S. Olympic Team in Berlin, Berlin, 1936

#124 View into the Parochialstrasse with the Nicolaikirche, the cupola of the city palace, and the protestant cathedral, 1930

#125 Erbach, Erbach im Odenwald: Stadtkirche, Rathaus und Schloss, 1930

#126 Grossmarkt Berlin: Blick auf den Schlacht- und Viehhof, Berlin, 1930

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Written by Kevin Clark

Kevin Clark is a historian and writer who is passionate about sharing the stories and significance behind historical photos. He loves to explore hidden histories and cultural contexts behind the images, providing a unique insight into the past.

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