Nature + Green  


The History of Berlin's Urban Green Space

Municipal Development of Urban Green Space, 1920 to 1948

1935 to 1945

On December 15, 1935, after a six-year vacancy, the office of the city public gardens director was once again occupied with the appointment of Joseph Pertl (1899-1989) from Mannheim. In 1940, Pertl was promoted to councilman and head of main department. In that position, he oversaw not only the public gardens administration and the cemetery system, but also the administration of the forests and city properties. The office of city public gardens director remained unoccupied after 1940. During this period (1936), the “Grove of Honor” was built (later Volkspark) Hasenheide (in German) (1936), Unter den Linden (in German) was planted with silver lindens, Hochmeisterplatz was redesigned, and the green space on Halensee was newly built.
During the war years after 1941, air raid shelters were built in green spaces [e.g., the surface bunkers in the Humboldthain (in German) and Friedrichshain (in German)]. Throughout the war, from 1939 to 1945, the work of the borough departments of public gardens was impeded by lack of manpower, vehicles, appliances, materials and money. The “war measures” included production of vegetables and fruit in the garden centers and tree nurseries. Because of his enthusiastic membership in the National Socialist Party, Pertl was dismissed in 1945.
On January 30, 1937 Adolf Hitler appointed Albert Speer as general construction inspector for the reconstruction of Berlin. The main project was the 120 m wide east-west axis and an equally wide north-south axis, at the intersection of which a large basin, 1,200 m x 400 m, was to be installed, and beside it a “Great Hall of the People,” with the gigantic height of almost 300 m. Other than the razing of some lots, none of this huge project was ever realized. The office of the general construction inspector also issued the Natural Green-Space Plan for Berlin, developed by Hentzen in 1937, under which the beautiful natural landscapes were to be interconnected, and a coherent green system created. The Grunewald Forest was to be redesigned as a scenically landscaped recreational park.

Von 1945 bis 1948

As a result of World War II, 338,000 apartments were totally destroyed (one third of the total stock), one hundred thousand dwellings were damaged considerably, and 80 million cu.m of rubble lay in the city. Of the former population of 4.4 million, only 2.8 million inhabitants were left. That part of the green spaces and parks that had not already been destroyed by construction of bunkers, trenches and barricades, or by bombs and shells, or, finally during the battle for the city, were clear-cut by the people afterwards for fuel. Some 2,200 ha of green spaces were devastated. During that period, 110,000 street trees were lost in the western part of the city alone. Berlin also lost its function as the capital. As a result of World War II, Berlin's parks system suffered the greatest setback in its history.
In the summer of 1945, the Main Department of Green-Space Planning and Horticulture/ Landscape Gardening was established, with Reinhold Lingner (1902-1968) as its head. First, the immediate war damage had to be repaired. The clearing of the rubble created “rubble mountains,” in some cases in the green spaces, such as the Humboldthain (in German), Friedrichshain (in German) and Hasenheide (in German). In 1948, the unity of the city was destroyed.
Literature (in German):
Berlin - Hundert Jahre Gartenbauverwaltung
Die Berliner Grünplanung von 1945 bis 1970
Vom Humboldthain zum Britzer Garten
Gartenwesen und Grünordnung in Berlin

The Albert Speer Plan
The Albert Speer Plan

'The Grunewald Forest'
The Grunewald Forest

Berlin boroughs
Map of the Berlin boroughs