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I wrote a few months ago about the progress in the re-building of the City Palace in Berlin. Formerly the home of the Royal Family of Brandenburg who then became Kings of Prussia and as of 1870 Emperor of Germany. The Hohenzollern to this day retain other large chateaux, the most famous being Sigmaringen and Castle Hohenzollern which is 50 Km south of Stuttgart in Southern Germany. They also retained the Crown Jewels and Imperial Crown in their private family collection.

The City Palace in Berlin was part Official Residence and part seat of government since 1443, a Palace often rebuilt and modified. After the abdication of the Kaiser in November 1918, the Palace was closed by the army after a fierce battle with the Communists who were trying to occupy the Palace. Then at the end of the Second World War in 1945 it sustained heavy damage due to aerial bombardment by the Allies. Finally the ruins were cleared by the Communist Government of East Germany in 1950,  a controversial move since the Palace could have been salvaged. At that time a young boy in Hamburg, West Germany, learned from his mother that an enormous palace had been destroyed in East Berlin. Wilhelm Von Boddien’s only thought was what a big noise this must have made.

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Photo of the City Palace just before its demolition in 1950.

Then, in 1961, as a young man, Mr. Von Boddien visited Berlin and saw the site of the palace “I found an empty space, a lonesome desert,” he says. “I was shocked, sad, disappointed, amazed, and angry.”

Although he was only 19, and that part of Berlin was firmly behind the Iron Curtain with the Berlin Wall in the process of being built, a “crazy idea” occurred to him: The Berlin Palace could be rebuilt. Despite its utter impracticality, “the idea was there,” he recalls. “I could not get rid of it.”

Fast forward to 1991. The Berlin Wall had fallen, Germany reunited, and von Boddien, now a businessman in Hamburg, starts a discussion with some other people who mourned the loss of the palace. These prominent individuals encourage him to act on his dream. So von Boddien began devoting his life to restoring Berlin’s historic heart.

In 1992 Von Boddien and eight supporters founded the Berliner Schloss Association. In 2002, thanks in no small part to Von Boddien’s advocacy, the German Parliament approved a resolution to rebuild the palace. Finally, in June 2013, ground was broken. Plans call for the Berlin Palace, with a replicated facade but a modern interior, to open in 2019. Today, Von Boddien continues to raise money as managing director of the association.

Inside, the palace will be occupied by the Humboldt Forum, an enormous new center for international art, culture, and science, with museums, a library, and events spaces. Three other major institutions, the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, with collections from around the world; the Berlin Central and Regional Library; and Berlin Humboldt University will together comprise the Humboldt Forum.

The new structure is almost complete and it was announced that the topping off will be this coming June 2015. After that decorations as seen below will be installed on the concrete walls to give the Palace it’s old appearance.

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In this photo a sculptor works on the decoration which will be installed above one of the Portals. The darker pieces are originals salvaged during the demolition of 1950.

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Here are some statues which originally were on the roof of the Palace. Salvaged from the demolition of 1950.

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Currently the dome is under construction and by June that phase should be completed. The City Palace should look like this in 2019. A project costing $750 million dollars to the German Government and $140 million dollars is being raised privately for all the baroque sculptures to adorn the outside facade. This diagram of Berlin shows the Palace on the Island on the Spree River in the top right corner, on the island is also all the Museums containing a wealth of collections of all kinds.  To know more see the web site    http://berliner-schloss.de

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