Located just off Unter den Linden is an elegant square called Bebelplatz, which dates back to 1740. It was originally called Opernplatz, after the Opera House which was built here from 1741-43.
Bebelplatz is best known as the site of the first official book burning ceremony by the Nazis, held in May 1933, when they burned around 20,000 books. Today there is an below-ground memorial to this event consisting of a glass plate set into the square through which you can see some empty bookcases.
The most interesting building on the square is St Hedwig's Cathedral, built 1747-73, which is Berlin's oldest Roman Catholic Church. It was partially modelled on Rome's Pantheon and has a lovely green dome.
When we visited Bebelplatz the square was home to a book fair….shame the drizzle dampened the event a little.
This public square was built between 1741 and 1743, and was then known as Platz am Opernhaus, as it was and still is the site of the State Opera building. It also contains St Hedwig's Cathedral - the oldest Roman Catholic church in Berlin. Friedrich II, as a patron of the arts, had plans for other buildings such as an acedemy and a palace; the area became known as Rederick's Forum and later Opernplatz, as the opera house was the only building completed before the Emperor's death. Between 1911 and 1947 it was called Kaiser-Franz-Josef-Platz, after Emperor Franz Josef, and was renamed Bebelplatz after the war, named for August Bebel, a leader of the Social Democratic Party of Germany in the 19th century.
It is most famous for being the site of the burning of more than 20,000 books on the 10th May 1933, organised by Joseph Goebbels. The monument to this can be seen in my first photo - a glass plate set into the square, together with a line of Heinrich Heine: "Dort, wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man am Ende auch Menschen" (in English: "Where they burn books, they ultimately burn people").
This beautiful square on the south side of Unter den Linden will forever be associated with the events of 10 May 1933 as the site of the infamous book burning organized by Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels when more than 20000 books by philosophical and political writers antithecal to the Nazi cause were burned. Included were works by Marx, Freud, Heine, and Erich Kastner among others. However, its long past begins with the plans of Friedrich II in the 1750's to create a central area for science and the arts for Berlin. Originally known as Friedrich's Forum and the Opernplatz for the famed Opera House, it was only in 1947 that the square was renamed for August Bebel, co-founder in 1869 of the Social Democrat political party.
On the east side, the famed Opera House built in 1743 was rebuilt after WWII to original plans and today houses the Berlin symphony orchestra. On the north side, St. Hedwig's Cathedral is home to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Berlin and on the west side the Old Library of the Humboldt College is sited.
At the center, Israeli artist Mischa Ullman has created a monument to the bookburning, a rectangular underground library brightly lit and seen through a plastic window - the bookshelves are empty as were the shelves after the Goebbel's atrocity and also as were the houses of the murdered Jews of Berlin. Several adjacent plaques are set in the cobblestones, the most famous quoting Heinrich Heine - "This is just the beginning. Where books are burned, in the end people will burn". If only he knew. Today, book fairs in Berlin are held regularly at this site, an apt choice.
On advice, we visited Bebelplatz in the mid evening and were the only people on this famous square, all the more beautiful and eerie in the solitude. Our footsteps on the cobblestones echoed off the buildings adjacent as we made our way to the solitary light in the center, treading with care on this important historical site. Silence surrounded us as we reflected on the events which have made this square hallowed ground. Do visit in the evening - inspirational and unforgettable.
Bebelplatz, the former Opernplatz (build 1740 under Frederick II the Great), is located on the opposite side of the main building of Humbold University directly at Unter den Linden. It is bounded by the State Opera (hence its prewar name), another building of the Humboldt University and by St. Hedwig's Cathedral, Berlin's oldest Roman Catholic church, which has a close resemblance to Rome's Pantheon.
Despite the impressive buildings surrounding the square, it's not exactly a place where I would stay for a while and rest.
The square is named after August Bebel, one of the founders of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, Germany's oldest party, which long opposed Adolf Hitler and his party and which was pressed to merge with the Communist Party in East-Germany after WWII.
Today, Bebelplatz is best known for the Nazi book burnings in May 1933. The abominable Goebbels himself, "Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda", threw books of more than 20 Jewish authors, or those opposing the Nazis, into the fire. Among the spectators was one of the authors, Erich Kästner.
To commemorate the event, a 200 year-old quote by Heinrich Heine, "Where they burn books, humans will burn in the end", was engraved, and a glass plate was set into the square, providing a view on empty bookcases.
I know that many people say, "that's all?", but I for one think it's a very powerful monument. It works best when you come after sunset. The empty room is brightly illuminated, and when people gather around the glass plate to look down on those empty bookcases, it seems as if they mournfully gather around the remainings of a fire.
Off of Unter den Linden and opposite Humboldt Universitat is Bebelplatz - the site of the huge Nazi book burning which took place on 10th May 1933. Around 25,000 books written by authors who were considered to be enemies of the Third Reich were burned.
Find a square piece of glass in the floor and you've found the "poignant below-ground memorial" (as the Lonely Planet guide book described it). Pesonally, I was bitterly disappointed. The glass was so scuffed and scratched you could barely see through it and the empty library bookshelves that were below (by Micha Ullman) looked like they were flat packed IKEA shelves!
Blink and you might miss the small plaque in the ground, a little further into the square, which is also in memory of the book burning event. It says "where books are burned, in the end people will burn" (Heinrich Heine).
...let's also take a moment to remember that one of the Indiana Jones movies was shot here!
Bebelplatz was known as Opernplatz during the Nazi era and was the scene of the infamous book burning incident, where books by Jews and leftist were thrown on to a huge bonfire on the 10th May 1933. Since 1995 there has been a glass panel set into the ground covering a room beneath that has empty books shelves. The monument was designed by Micha Ullmann and commemorates the book burning incident.
Bebelplatz is a square on Unter den Linden which Frederick II The Great envisioned as the center of his "new Rome". It is surrounded by the German State Opera, the State Library, St. Hedwig's Church and Humboldt University. In the middle, there is a glass window over a room with empty bookshelves which is a memorial to the Nazi 20,000 book burning ordered by Joseph Goebbels.