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Reichstag: the German Parliament

The Reichstag Palace is where the Federal Parliament of Germany (Bundestag) currently performs its functions. Located in the district of Mitte, the Reichstag is one of the main postcards of the city and its history had a crucial participation during the events in the city of Berlin, Germany and the world.

The palace was commissioned by the Prussian king Wilhelm I in 1884, and the construction took approximately ten years to complete. Its architecture, innovative for the time, included a dome composed of steel and glass.

After the defeat in World War I and the end of the monarchy, the Republic of Weimar was proclaimed from the balcony of the Reichstag, which lasted from 1919 to 1933, when the building served as the seat of the parliament of the Republic.

Germany, which in this post-war period was experiencing a growing crisis, inflation, unemployment, hunger and suffering from numerous war-related sanctions, appointed Adolf Hitler to the post of Chancellor of the country.

After a month of Hitler’s appointment, the Reichstag Palace burned. The fire, which began at 9:14 pm on February 27, 1933, destroyed the building. It is believed that the fire has been started at several points. When the fire brigade arrived at the building, there was a big explosion in the House of Representatives and police found Marinus van der Lubbe, a member of the Communist Party, inside the palace.

Hitler and Göring soon arrived on the scene, and when he found Lubbe, Göring immediately announced that the fire was caused by the Communists, so that all the party leaders were arrested. Taking advantage of the troubled situation, Hitler declared a state of emergency and encouraged the then president of the time to sign the Reichstag’s Fire Decree, which suspended most of the human rights, which had been guaranteed by the constitution of 1919.

The Nazis were convinced and wanted to prove that the fire was caused by the Communists, until the moment that Van der Lubbe confessed that it set fire to the Reichstag. Thus, in 1934 he was condemned to death and beheaded.


In the meantime, the Nazi party gained power and power within parliament: without the Communists, with the help of some parties and bribing others, they were able to obtain the required two-thirds majority for the adoption of the Law of Full Powers (Ermächtigungsgesetz).

Unlike most people think, during the twelve years of the Third Reich the Reichstag was not used for the parliamentary sessions. The Reichstag, during this period, served as propaganda for World War II and was greatly damaged during the aerial bombardments that occurred in this period.

In 1945, the Reichstag was one of the main targets during the domination of the city by the Red Army. During the Cold War and with the transfer of the capital of West Germany to Bonn, the building was semi-abandoned. In 1956 it was decided that it would not be demolished but rather restored. The building belonged to the western side of Berlin, located very close to the Berlin Wall which was erected in 1961.

During the reconstruction of the dome, glass and metal were used in order to demonstrate the transparency of a new Germany that was to come. The ecologically correct structure stores rainwater and snow melt, which is used inside the building.

After the reunification of Germany, the Reichstag became seat of the German Parliament again, reopening in 1999. A curious fact occurred in 1995, when a couple of artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude covered the whole building with white cloths.

In front of the Reichstag is written the following phrase: “Dem deutschen Volke”, which means “To the German people”. This mention has been recorded there since 1916.

It is possible to visit the Reichstag’s dome with online booking. Go Easy Berlin offers to our guests the free prior booking for those who are interested in doing it after taking one of our tours.

Did you know the amazing history of the German Parliament? Do you know any other related to the Reichstag? Share it here with us!

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