Potsdam: Landeshauptstadt Brandenburg

At this meeting, we discussed Potsdam, which is where I lived and studied for three semesters.

About Potsdam: Potsdam is a city in Eastern Germany, located on the southwestern border of Berlin. First mentioned in 933 AD, Potsdam’s role in early German history was one of a military city; the walls were meant to keep the military in more than to keep invaders out. During the separation of Germany, Potsdam was located entirely in East Germany. Potsdam is connected to the Berlin S -Bahn and Regionalbahn networks, and within the city, there is a system of busses and streetcars. Potsdam is famous for Babelsberg film studios, where many UFA and DEFA films were produced, including The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Metropolis, Jakob der Lügner, and Bridge of Spies . Potsdam was also the seat of the German Emperors, as well as the location of the Potsdam Conference, which detailed the division of Germany into occupied sectors

Erste Erwähnung: 993 AD
Bevölkerung: 167,745
Wappentier: Adler
Bundesland: Brandenburg
Größte Politische Partei: Die Linke (25,3% der Kommunalwahl)
Oberbürgermeister: Jann Jakobs (SPD)
Bekannt für: Schlösser, Potsdamer Konferenz, Studio Babelsberg

Potsdam’s History

Under Frederick the Great
Frederick the Great (German: Friedrich der Groβe) created his own personal centre of relaxation in Potsdam: his palace Sanssouci. It was away from Berlin, but close enough to ride out for one day. At the other end of the park, he built Neues Palais to as a symbol of status after the Seven Years’ War. Frederick also continued his father’s development of the city, which, to that point, had been primarily military barracks and orphanages. Under him, the city never became a cultural centre like Berlin, but it did expand its borders.

In The German Empire
Berlin had been the historical main seat of the Hohenzollern royal family, but its massive industrialization in the 19th century led Wilhelm I, under whom Germany unified, to make his seat in Potsdam, where the air was clean, and the city far away. Wilhelm I made his main home Schloss Babelsberg, although he summered in other palaces in Potsdam. It was Wilhelm II who made Neues Palais his main seat— the palace had never been a royal main residence before that, although his father did die there after only 99 days of rule. It was there that he incorporated indoor plumbing and signed Germany’s entrance into WWI. The Crown Prince Wilhelm ordered his home, Schloss Cecilienhof, to be modelled after an English countryside estate. He was fascinated with English culture, which was encouraged by his grandmother, Kaiserin Victoria. Unfortunately, construction only finished after WWI drew to a close, and Wilhelm only was able to live there until the 1950s, when he fled to West Germany.

In East Germany
The Potsdam Conference was held in Schloss Cecilienhof, and there, it was decided that Potsdam should be part of the Soviet sector—which later developed into East Germany. The City Palace suffered much damage during the war, and was torn down, as were many other landmarks of “Prussian militarism”. As with many other East German cities, new Plattenbau buildings were erected. The now-famous Glienicke Brücke was, at one point, a trading point for spies. There is a memorial plaque commemorating this on the bridge today. In Golm (incorporated into Potsdam in 2003), the Ministerium für Staatssicherheit (Stasi) ran their training school for officers. Today, most of these buildings have been torn down, but the campus has been incorporated into the Universität Potsdam.

After 1990
After German Unification in 1990, Potsdam became the capital city of the new federal state of Brandenburg. Many famous landmarks are in the process of being rebuilt. Notably, the City Palace, destroyed in the war and torn down by the East German government, has been rebuilt as the state parliament for Brandenburg. Tourism is the main industry in Potsdam, and the easy connection to Berlin brings a lot of tourists to the palaces and Park Sanssouci. Today, Studio Babelsberg brings in many American film productions, and also has a theme park open in the summer which honors its past. The two most powerful political parties in Potsdam are die Linke (the left, 25%) and the SPD (social democrats, 23%). The Universität Potsdam, founded in 1991, has three campuses: Am Neuen Palais, Griebnitzsee / Babelsberg, and Golm

You can find the powerpoint online HERE.


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