News from Berlin

A Bit of History with the Swiss Embassy

March 21st, 2014

News from Berlin. The building that hosts the Swiss Embassy in Berlin has come to be a well-known historical place. Indeed, it is one of the two pre-World War I buildings still standing in the area.  Situated exactly between the Chancellery and the Reichstag, one might wonder how they came to occupy such a prominent spot.

The building was built around 1871 by a famous doctor called Friedrich Theodor Frerichs. The Swiss government acquired it in 1919, for a very good price. At that time, Germany had just been defeated and was in a rather worrying state of political instability, leading investors to be quite reluctant to buy German property. The Swiss Confederation however, was seeking to stop renting, and start acquiring its own properties in major European capital cities. The Embassy therefore began operating in 1920.

The building amazingly remained standing through the 1930’s and World War II. Due to the bombing of the building they were supposed to move into, the Swiss Embassy continued to occupy their property throughout the Germania Project, which caused many Embassies around them to move. Miraculously, the building was not destroyed by the bombings that devastated the area at the end of World War II. After the war, it remained Swiss property, but did not host the Embassy any more, as the capital city of the German Federal Republic had been moved to Bonn. Situated in the area close to the Berlin Wall, the edifice remained within a kind of “no man’s land,” a dead-zone that was used as potato fields.  The Swiss Federal Government tried to sell the property in the 1970’s, but no one had interest in the place.

However, the situation changed drastically when Germany reunited in 1989, and all the institutions were moved back to Berlin, as it became the capital city again. Within a decade, the Swiss Embassy building went from standing in the middle of nowhere to proudly standing right in between the Reichstag and the Chancellery, thanks to what is said to be one of the best property deals in history. Berlin Global News from Berlin.