History of Berlin

The history of Berlin starts with its foundation in the 13th century. It became the capital of the Margraviate of Brandenburg in 1417, and later of Brandenburg-Prussia, and the Kingdom of Prussia. Prussia grew about rapidly in the 18th and 19th centuries and formed the basis of the German Empire in 1871. The empire would survive until 1918 when it was defeated in World War I.

The Brandenburg Gate depicted by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner in 1912

After 1900 Berlin became a major world city, known for its leadership roles in science, the humanities, music, museums, higher education, government, diplomacy and military affairs. It also had a role in manufacturing and finance.

During World War II, bombing, artillery, and ferocious street-by-street fighting destroyed large parts of Berlin. Berlin was subsequently divided among the four major Allied powers and for over four decades it encapsulated the Cold War confrontation between West and East. With the reunification of Germany in 1990, Berlin was restored as the capital and as a major world city.

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