The Disappeared Gateway to the World

rbb-series: "Mysterious Places"

Author & Director:
Eva Roeger

Commissioning Editor:
Jens Stubenrauch


Daniel Ast

astfilm productions | for RBB

"Gateway to the world", that is what they called him, and when the people of Berlin talked with affection of the "Anhalter", then you could notice the wanderlust and the enthusiasm. The name of the railway station at the "Askanischer Platz" is related to the dukedom Anhalt, southwest of the Prussian capitol: soon you were able to reach further away places, sonorous places like Rome, Athen and Konstantinopel. It was a synonym for wanderlust.

The Anhalter, final destination of a true delta of tracks that behind the "Landwehrkanal" divided the city scape, that, since the dedication of the new railway building in 1880, used to be the most impressive building of the young industrial Metropol. It’s roof only overstretched an area, wider as the boulevard "Unter den Linden". Including the further south adjoining freight depot, the Anhalter was Berlin’s greatest reloading point. Everything was to be handled here: steal and postal packages, milk and meat, newspapers from all over the world. Up to the end of World War II, it was here, the logistic heartbeat of the city of Berlin. At the Anhalter, the German emperors received their guests of state, but never before the Anhalter experienced such an ostentatious propaganda orchestration, as when Adolf Hitler returned from the campaign against France in 1940.

Surviving witnesses remember the masses of people that beleaguered the railway station. They also recall their memories of the vivid life in the quarters around, the departure of children into a assumed safety, as well as the sadness of the station when thousands of refugees arrived or departed at the end of the war. Essentially the Nazi plans for the new Germania decided on the fate of the Anhalter, the war and the partition of the city, all together did set the seal on the station: In 1959, the ruin close to the border of the divided city was blasted. Only a small section of the main gate at the "Askanischer Platz" remained. Today, it is a memorial reminding of the horrors of war. In the renovated engine sheds of the Anhalter’s depot, the Berlin Technic Museum has since 1983 relics on exhibition, showing this railway history of Berlin.

The film tells the changeful and mysterious history of the Anhalter Station, that once used to be the vibrant heart of the pulsative Metropol Berlin, slowly disappearing from the cityscape, and with the memories slowly fading away.