Between Cathredal and a Chest of Drawers
Bebelplatz is one of the most beautiful squares in the capital. This is partly due to the surrounding buildings but is also due to the fact that is located on the magnificent boulevard Unter den Linden.
In 1947, the rectangular, fully paved square was named after the founder of the SPD, August Bebel. Bebel Platz was created in 1740 as a result of the demolition of old Berlin’s city fortifications. The new space was meant to be the centre of Knobelsdorff’s planned Forum Fridericianum, which was going to include an opera house, an academy building and the royal city palace. However, the original plan could not be fully realised. Only the opera house was built (1741-43) and so the site was named Opernplatz, meaning Opera Square.
Since the late 18th Century, the Catholic St. Hedwig's Cathedral (1747-73) has been located behind the Staatsoper, which is still there. On the west side, the "chest of drawers" otherwise known as the Royal Library (1775-80) was located, which today belongs to the Humboldt University. The Old Palace, which is also used by the Humboldt University, is found there as well.
On 10 May 1933, Bebelplatz made history but in a rather inglorious manner. It was the site of the infamous "book burning" organised by the Nazis, in which important works of world literature, including works by authors such as Heinrich and Thomas Mann, Erich Kästner, Stefan Zweig, Heinrich Heine, Karl Marx and Kurt Tucholsky, were thrown into the flames.
Since 1995, a subterranean monument by Micha Ullmann has commemorated this incident. On display is a library embedded in the ground with empty shelves, which can be seen in the middle of Bebelplatz through a plastic sheet.
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