The story of the long forgotten ruin
The construction of the Anhalter Bahnhof – train station began in 1839. A concourse with just a few tracks emerged. At that time no one knew what a great role this station would play in the future at Askanischer Platz. 1841 the building was completed and the railway line between Berlin and Halle began to operate under the railway company “der Berlin-Anhaltischen Bahngesellschaft“. Thus, the first trans-regional routes, which connected Berlin with the Princes and later Duchy of Saxony was built. But soon, the capacity was not enough, so the station had to be extended. The planning for the expansion began already in 1861. However, they were implemented only after the establishment of the German Empire in 1874. The construction, under the direction of architect Franz Schwechten, led to a magnificent redesign of the entire station building and took six years. New bridge arches, massive gable walls, massive pillars and additional railway lines now shaped the gigantic construction of the station. The 34 meters ceiling height and 62 meters width made the station hall to the largest hall in Europe.
Opening of the new station by the emperor
On 15 June 1880, the new Berlin-Anhalter Bahnhof (railway station) was officially opened by Otto von Bismarck and Kaiser Wilhelm I.
Not only cities like Halle, Leipzig, Frankfurt or Munich could be reached from the Anhalter Bahnhof train station, now international destinations were accessible to passengers. The railways connected many European metropolises such as Vienna, Budapest, Rome, Milan, Marseille and Athens as well as Naples, from where passengers could get a connecting ship to Egypt.
During the First World War trains from Anhalter Bahnhof took the soldiers to the front. The station became an important hub for troop supply. After the First World War the huge area gained importance to the public again. Traveling abroad was very popular in the 1920ies, and many people started their trip at Anhalter Bahnhof. The Hotel Excelsior built in 1928 a tunnel, which connected the hotel with the station, so guests were able to walk directly to the station.
The train station was very popular during the summer Olympics in 1936 in Berlin. Thus, this station was with its huge reception hall the first impression many visitors had of Berlin. From their people could catch connecting S-Bahn trains to all direction within Berlin.
The dark days of the station
With the seizure of power by the National Socialists, the former flagship train station lost its importance. Trains and train passengers stopped using the station. The station became an instrument of logistics, and transported once again soldiers and supplies to the fronts. From 1942 Jews were also deported from Anhalter Bahnhof. Allied air raids damaged the station heavily, only the outside walls were left. Residence were looking for shelter and protection in the tunnels of the train station. Asylum seekers used the Anhalter Hochbunker (bunker) as a point to look for shelter and help.
After the war the Allies limited train traffic to a minimum, before it was finally shut down in the year 1952. The station was left to itself and was forgotten. In 1959, the Senate ordered the demolition of the remains apart from the arch, which once was entrance to the magnificent station hall. Today only picture can reflect what the Anhalter Bahnhof used to be.
Where once the glorious train station was, is today the venue Tempodrom, which was built in 2002.