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Hitler's prestige arena blown to bits

The Local · 3 Dec 2011, 12:32

Published: 03 Dec 2011 12:32 GMT+01:00

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With a huge bang the roof of the massive building in the district of Charlottenburg collapsed on Saturday morning, sending a cloud of dust high into the sky. Just a few minutes after the explosion the 200-metre exclusion zone around the building was lifted and traffic resumed on the nearby A115 motorway.

Crowds turned up to view the explosion and try to get a look at the ruins of the building, which will be completely demolished over the coming weeks. A new €65 million conference and exhibition centre will be constructed in its place by 2013.

When the Deutschlandhalle was constructed in 1935 it was the world’s largest such arena. Built in just nine months it was a prestige project for the regime and was opened by Adolf Hitler on November 29, 1935. It was used during the 1936 Olympic Games for boxing, wrestling and weight-lifting events. After the games the Nazis used it for various events, including mass rallies and speeches.

The building, designed by Franz Ohrtmann and Fritz Wiemer, was 117 metres long and 83 metres wide, and had a capacity for crowds of up to 16,000 spectators. During an exhibition on colonialism in 1938 Hitler’s favourite pilot Hanna Reitsch flew a helicopter inside the hall.

Much of the building was damaged during an Allied aerial attack in 1943 but it was restored after the war and opened its doors again in 1957. It became the primary event venue for West Berliners, hosting ice shows, boxing matches and concerts.

Muhammad Ali fought there and big stars like Abba, the Rolling Stones, Queen and Jim Hendrix appeared on stage in the Deutschlandhalle.

On November 12, 1989, numerous German popstars played a free concert there to celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall just a few days earlier.

The arena later fell into disuse and was only used for a few big events in the period following reunification. It was finally shut down in 2009 following a decision by the Berlin government to have it demolished.

Story continues below…

DPA/The Local/smd

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

16:11 December 3, 2011 by Sastry.M
Hope the demolition of Nazi built arena caused no damage to those in other blocks. as happened in New York Tower blocks.
16:55 December 3, 2011 by vonSchwerin
I wonder how long before we see a "Downfall" Hitler rant about this. Fegelein! Fegelein!
18:38 December 3, 2011 by DrWPierceTV4
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
19:21 December 3, 2011 by Eins Null
Does Germany still have so much money that it can afford to demolish an interesting and very serviceable building? And what for? Another damned conference centre! Aren't there enough already!
09:31 December 4, 2011 by Dizz
Sadly symptomatic of Berlin mindset, a conference centre rather than a technology or business incubation hub. Transient income, low paying jobs, the lazy approach rather than creating an environment to attract investment and better jobs.
16:31 December 4, 2011 by raandy
Dizz, exactly my thoughts.
21:45 December 4, 2011 by Flint
Dizz, you got that right.
08:39 December 5, 2011 by rwk
Leipzig is for conferences. Berlin is for layer upon layer of intrusive, expensive government bureaucracy.
09:33 December 5, 2011 by wenddiver
Blowing up history is never a good idea. I would say Dr W Pierce TV 4 hit it on the head. If your lucky they will put a Kentuky Fried Chicken or a Pizza Hut there or best of all a McDonalds or maybe a Government Office Building.
22:22 December 5, 2011 by prashanthslogin
Germany has lost its Historic Identity
18:09 December 6, 2011 by SchafEK
@Dizz -- I agree
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