More than a hundred years of history… A story that drives us through 20th century Berlin…
The inauguration of the first stadium
In 1912, works for the National stadium began with a vision of making a piece that will feature around 12.000 seats and 18.000 standing rooms.
After only 200 days of constructions, on May 15, 1913 – the stadium was proudly inaugurated. This was when German sport was hosted and developed – the centre for competitive sports and German professionals preparing for the Games of 1916.
But then WWI came
National Stadium was closed in 1914, and as of the following year, it served as a military hospital.
This architectural piece was further developed between the two wars by adding a new building in 1922, including a gymnasium, a fencing hall, dining, and a reading room.
The late 1920s brought new plans for hosting the Olympic Games in Berlin what led to a remodelling of the stadium into a sports arena with a capacity of 65.000 people.
Indeed, the idea was great, but this time there was a different problem to start with realising the project as the whole world entered into the economic problems known as the Great Depression.
The 1930s brought changes. Berlin announced an invitation for hosting the Olympic Games of 1936, and in 1931 it defeated Barcelona, becoming the next city host of the Games.
In 1933, Hitler became Chancellor, and he immediately understood the valuable propaganda opportunity Games are offering and started thinking of demolition and building new or remodelling the existing stadium.
The decision was to demolish. During the construction that began in 1934, 500 companies and over 2500 people worked on the stadium, and some reports say that it was a project worth somewhere around 27 million marks.
1936 Olympic Games and national stadium during the WWII
The eleventh Olympic Games began on August 1st, 1936 and lasted for 15 days, with a closing ceremony on August 16th.
Among 3956 athletes, the most successful was legendary Jesse Owens, with four gold medals.
While the games were on, the famous landmark of the stadium – Bell Tower – was used as an observation post by administrators, police officials, doctors, and the media.
Despite positive reviews of the sports competitions, some foreign observers voiced their criticism after realising the facade’s terror regime.
During the Nazi regime, National Stadium was a crucial entertaining venue for German troops. At the dawn of the war, it was used for war purpose – it was a place where German company produced a primer for anti-aircraft weapons.
In late 1944, the underground facilities of the stadium were the headquarters of Germany’s national radio network.
The stadium reopened a year later for the Eight Nations Games, and in 1947, Olympiastadion lost one of its landmarks – The British Military Government ordered to demolish the dilapidated Bell Tower.
In several following years, part after part of the stadium was turned back to German authorities.
The reconstruction of the bell tower began thanks to the efforts of Werner March, and it was completed after two years in 1962. This new tower is 77 meters tall – almost one meter more than the previous one.
The latest renovation of the stadium took places in the 2000s, and on September 8th, 2004, the German national football team played their first match at the new stadium; it was completely prepared for the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
UEFA in 2005 named this architectural piece a “Five-Star-Stadium”, which is the highest-ranking possible for stadiums in Europe.
This masterpiece of architecture, Berlin’s Olympic Stadium, is home to Herta BSC football club since 1963.