Saturday, November 5, 2016

Pictures From Our Trip to Germany and Poland: Berlin -- The Adlon Hotel, Salon Kitty, and Karlshorst

While In Berlin, we decided to go stay at one of the most luxurious hotels in the city -- the Adlon Hotel, within a stone's throw of the Brandenburg Gate (and a major location in my upcoming techno-thriller).

The Adlon Hotel has built in 1907 and served as both a luxury hotel and major social center in Berlin until the end of World War II. The guest list included such dignitaries as Czar Nicholas II, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover, Albert Einstein, Charlie Chaplain and Mary Pickford, and more. The hotel suffered heavy damage during the war; what portions remained were burnt in 1945 after Red Army troops raided the wine cellar, got drunk, and set fire to the building. The hotel was torn down in 1952, leaving only the rear service wing. What remained of the hotel was renovated and reopened in 1964, closed in 1970 to serve as a lodging house for East Germans guarding the Berlin Wall, and finally demolished in 1984. The current hotel was built and reopened in 2003-2004.

The view from the Adlon Hotel today.

The view in the summer of 1945.

Salon Kitty, a high-class German brothel located on Giesebrechtstrasse in the Charlottenberg District of Berlin, a favorite spot for high-ranking Nazi dignitaries, important foreign visitors, and influential diplomats and business leaders. Taken over by the Sicherheitsdient (SD), Germany's security service, the SD employed the most attractive prostitutes they could find, trained them in how to gather sensitive information during pillow talk (in rooms bugged with microphones), and set up a workshop in the basement where these conversations could be transcribed and the information passed on to Reinhard Heydrich. (Heydrich frequented Salon Kitty, but always made sure the microphones were shut off during his trysts.) The salon was closed after a bombing raid destroyed the building in 1942.

The interior of Salon Kitty.

Karlhorst, a former Wehrmacht mess hall in the Lichtenberg borough of Berlin, which was taken over by Soviet Marshal Zhukov as his personal headquarters and where, on 8 May, the Germans surrendered to the Soviet Union, formally ending World War II in Europe.

The hall where the surrender was signed. The small table on the far right, extending outward from the table-mounted French flag, was where Field Marshall Keitel (representing the Wehrmacht), Colonel-General Stumpff (representing the Luftwaffe), and Admiral von Friedeburg (representing the Kriegsmarine) signed the document of unconditional surrender.

From 1945-1949, Karlshorst served as the headquarters for the Soviet Military Administration in Berlin. This is the conference room and table where they met.

[Next week: Wolfschanze]

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