Lichterfelde is synonymous with great military tradition; originating with the Prussian elite cadet academy, it developed into a high class residential area and mansion colony. The Prussians built roads and trams; many of the homes here were former residences of high-ranking Prussian officers. The mansions were built in styles ranging from Gothic to Tudor to Neo-Renaissance.
Before it fell to the Americans, the cadet academy was controlled by the Nazis and used as headquarters for the Leibstandarte SS, Hitler’s personal guards. The Americans occupied it for the Berlin Brigade and renamed the base “Andrews Barracks”. The U.S. duty train terminates at Lichterfelde-West, operating only at night to transport diplomats and military personnel to their duty stations in Berlin.
Security is always tight in Lichterfelde with heavy patrols by both the Bundespolizei and the U.S. military police. The people who live here are still among Berlin’s elite—old money, bankers, and high-ranking government officials. There is no real sense of community here as the U.S. military makes everyone uneasy. People keep their noses out of each other’s businesses and are even less keen to talk to outsiders.
The old cadet academy is long gone, most of it destroyed during the war and the ensuing Allied occupation. The newer addition by the Nazis, the SS barracks, remain with its entrance on Finckensteinallee. The U.S. Army had made this one of their bases here and named it “Andrews Barracks". The buildings with their exterior of red brick still bears the hallmark of austere, Nazi-era architecture. An iron gate with two guard postings control the entrance. Military vehicles can be seen entering and leaving through the gate. The servicemen conduct their drills, patrol, and move about the compound. They have everything they could ever want here—facilities include a gym, a swimming pool, a bowling alley, an NCO club, a snack bar, an automotive crafts shop, laundry, and spacious quarters for the enlisted men.
The facade of the main building is unadorned except for three stone white columns. A chip on the roof is what remains of the old Reichsadler, toppled once the Allies took over Berlin. The Americans also chiselled out the inscription that read ‘Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler’. Two concrete statues of soldiers stand guard on either side of the main gate—their base bearing a sword and oak leaves—a lesser-known symbol of the Nazis. The entrance to the swimming pool has two white relief statues, a naked man and woman representing the ideals of Aryan beauty.
Bahnhof Berlin-Lichterfelde West
This station does not see much use from the S-bahn due to the construction of the Berlin Wall. It is the Terminus for the United States military duty trains, which only runs at night between Berlin and West Germany. The station was built in the style of a Tuscan villa for the development of the mansion colony in Lichterfelde-West. A complex of arched windows and pale orange bricks opens up to a platform, which allows access to the long-distance railway tracks.
Berlin-Dahlem Botanical Garden
- Science 3
This garden is associated with the Free University of Berlin, occupies 43 hectares of land, and contains around 22,000 different species of plants. Many plants are displayed in glass-houses, like the Cactus Pavilion and the Pavilion Victoria, for orchids, carnivorous plants and giant white water lilies, and the Great Pavilion, which displays tropical plants like the giant bamboo. The Great Pavilion, one of the largest in the world, has a dome-shaped glass roof and towers over a lawn planted with topiary and flower hedges. Different flowers bloom at different times of the year; and inside the glass house, the air is kept muggy and humid with a constant temperature at around 30 degrees celsius.
The southern and western part of the gardens are taken up by the arboretum, a comprehensive and methodical collection of native plants. The north western part of the compound houses the Apothekergarten (pharmacist’s garden), a collection of plants with healing properties. East of the main path is the water and marsh bed compound, with heated water basins to simulate an environment for tropical marsh flora.
Ginkgoes, conifers, magnolias and maples can be enjoyed throughout the year. In spring the cherry blossoms are in full bloom; summer is the time of the hydrangea; the chrysanthemums flower in the fall and the Japanese apricot near the end of winter. At the edge of the garden is a small stream with a red bridge arching across it; a Japanese gazebo with a green pagoda roof and red pillars provide some shelter and benches for visitors. A woody aroma and a subtle, floral scent permeates the location.
In one of the courtyards of this vast garden, you come upon a pile of rubble that used to house some kind of entrance. Picking through the rubble enables you to clear the way forward into the long tunnel.
Campus Benjamin Franklin
- Medicine 4
- Status: Health
The teaching hospital of the Free University of Berlin is a complex that contains clinics, lecture rooms, scientific and research facilities, built from 1959 to 1969. The United States contributed a fifth of the construction costs as “proof of American interest in the future of Berlin”, and hence the hospital was given its name-Benjamin Franklin”. The building was designed in a contemporary style, with the main body comprising of rectangular blocks beside or stacked on top of each other; repeating geometric patterns and rows of angled windows make up the facade.
Modern and well-equipped, the hospital contains some 1,200 beds and is staffed by general practitioners and specialists. It has an emergency department that is open 24 hours and a constant roster of staff for night and day shifts. A typical ward has about six hospital beds and a curtain that can be encircled around each bed for privacy.