Reich Chancellery
The Reich Chancellery was the traditional name of the office of the Chancellor of Germany
Chancellor of Germany
The Chancellor of Germany is, under the German 1949 constitution, the head of government of Germany...

 (then called Reichskanzler) in the period of the German Reich from 1871 to 1945. Today the office is usually called Kanzleramt
German Chancellery
The German Chancellery is a federal agency serving the executive office of the Chancellor, the head of the German federal government. The chief of the Chancellery holds the rank of either a Secretary of State or a Federal Minister ...

(Chancellor's Office), or more formally Bundeskanzleramt (Federal Chancellor's Office).

Old Reich Chancellery

When the military alliance of the North German Confederation
North German Confederation
The North German Confederation 1866–71, was a federation of 22 independent states of northern Germany. It was formed by a constitution accepted by the member states in 1867 and controlled military and foreign policy. It included the new Reichstag, a parliament elected by universal manhood...

 was reorganised as a federal state with effect from July 1, 1867, the office of a Federal Chancellor (Bundeskanzler) was implemented at Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

 and staffed with the Prussian
Kingdom of Prussia
The Kingdom of Prussia was a German kingdom from 1701 to 1918. Until the defeat of Germany in World War I, it comprised almost two-thirds of the area of the German Empire...

 Prime Minister Otto von Bismarck
Otto von Bismarck
Otto Eduard Leopold, Prince of Bismarck, Duke of Lauenburg , simply known as Otto von Bismarck, was a Prussian-German statesman whose actions unified Germany, made it a major player in world affairs, and created a balance of power that kept Europe at peace after 1871.As Minister President of...

. After the unification of Germany
Unification of Germany
The formal unification of Germany into a politically and administratively integrated nation state officially occurred on 18 January 1871 at the Versailles Palace's Hall of Mirrors in France. Princes of the German states gathered there to proclaim Wilhelm of Prussia as Emperor Wilhelm of the German...

 on January 18, 1871 by accession of the South German states, Bismarck became Reich Chancellor of the new German Empire
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...


In 1869 the Prussian state government had acquired the Rococo
Rococo , also referred to as "Late Baroque", is an 18th-century style which developed as Baroque artists gave up their symmetry and became increasingly ornate, florid, and playful...

 city palace of late Prince Antoni Radziwiłł on Wilhelmstraße No. 77 (former "Palais Schulenburg"), which from 1875 was refurbished as the official building of the Chancellery. It was inaugurated with the meetings of the Berlin Congress
Congress of Berlin
The Congress of Berlin was a meeting of the European Great Powers' and the Ottoman Empire's leading statesmen in Berlin in 1878. In the wake of the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78, the meeting's aim was to reorganize the countries of the Balkans...

 in July 1878, followed by the Congo Conference in 1884.

In the days of the Weimar Republic
Weimar Republic
The Weimar Republic is the name given by historians to the parliamentary republic established in 1919 in Germany to replace the imperial form of government...

 the Chancellery was significantly enlarged by the construction of a Modern
Modern architecture
Modern architecture is generally characterized by simplification of form and creation of ornament from the structure and theme of the building. It is a term applied to an overarching movement, with its exact definition and scope varying widely...

 annex finished in 1930. In 1932/33, while his office on Wilhelmstraße No. 73 was renovated, the building also served as the residence of President Paul von Hindenburg
Paul von Hindenburg
Paul Ludwig Hans Anton von Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg , known universally as Paul von Hindenburg was a Prussian-German field marshal, statesman, and politician, and served as the second President of Germany from 1925 to 1934....

, where he appointed Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 as Chancellor on 30 January 1933. The Hitler Cabinet held few meetings here. In 1935 the architects Paul Troost
Paul Troost
Paul Ludwig Troost , born in Elberfeld, was a German architect. An extremely tall, spare-looking, reserved Westphalian with a close-shaven head, Troost belonged to a school of architects, Peter Behrens and Walter Gropius who, even before 1914, reacted sharply against the highly ornamental...

 and Leonhard Gall
Leonhard Gall
Professor Leonhard Gall was one of Adolf Hitler's architects.Gall worked for Paul Troost and he designed a new chancellery for Munich. He helped to complete the House of German Art after Troost's death, and was named on the Gottbegnadeten list of artists valuable to the Nazi regime in 1944.-See...

 redesigned the interior as Hitler's domicile. They also added a large reception hall/ballroom and conservatory, officially known as the Festsaal mit Wintergarten in the garden area. The latter addition was unique because of the large cellar that led a further one-and-a-half meters down to an air-raid shelter known as the Vorbunker
The Vorbunker or "forward bunker" was located behind the large reception hall that was added onto the old Reich Chancellery, in Berlin, Germany. It was meant to be a temporary air-raid shelter for Adolf Hitler, his guards, and servants...

. Once completed in 1936, it was officially called the "Reich Chancellery Air-Raid Shelter" until 1943, with the construction to expand the bunker complex with the addition of the Führerbunker
The Führerbunker was located beneath Hitler's New Reich Chancellery in Berlin, Germany. It was part of a subterranean bunker complex which was constructed in two major phases, one part in 1936 and the other in 1943...

, located one level below. The two bunkers were connected by a stairway set at right angles that could be closed off from each other.

Devastated by air raids and the Battle of Berlin
Battle of Berlin
The Battle of Berlin, designated the Berlin Strategic Offensive Operation by the Soviet Union, was the final major offensive of the European Theatre of World War II....

, the ruins of the Old Reich Chancellery were not cleared until 1950.

New Reich Chancellery

In late January 1938, Adolf Hitler officially assigned his favourite architect Albert Speer
Albert Speer
Albert Speer, born Berthold Konrad Hermann Albert Speer, was a German architect who was, for a part of World War II, Minister of Armaments and War Production for the Third Reich. Speer was Adolf Hitler's chief architect before assuming ministerial office...

 to build the New Reich Chancellery around the corner on Voßstraße, a branch-off of Wilhelmstraße, requesting that the building be completed within a year.
Hitler commented that Bismarck's Old Chancellery was "fit for a soap company" but not suitable as headquarters of a Greater German Reich
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

. It nevertheless remained his official residence with its recently refurbished representation rooms on the groundfloor and private rooms on the upper floor where Hitler lived in the so called Führerwohnung ("Führer apartment"). Old and New Chancellery shared the large gardens with the underground Führerbunker, where Hitler committed suicide at the end of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 in 1945.

Speer claimed in his autobiography that he completed the task of clearing the site, designing, constructing, and furnishing the building in less than a year. In fact, preliminary planning and versions of the designs were already being worked on as early as 1935. To clear the space for the New Reich Chancellery, the buildings on the northern side of Voßstraße No. 2 - 10 had already been demolished in 1937.

Hitler placed the entire northern side of the Voßstraße at Speer's disposal assigning him the work of creating grand halls and salons which "will make an impression on people". Speer was given a blank cheque — Hitler stated that the cost of the project was immaterial — and was instructed that the building be of solid construction and that it be finished by the following January in time for the next New Year diplomatic reception to be held in the new building.

Over 4,000 workers toiled in shifts, so the work could be accomplished round-the-clock. The immense construction was "finished" 48 hours ahead of schedule, and the project earned Speer a reputation as a good organiser, which, combined with Hitler's fondness for Speer played a part in the architect becoming Armaments Minister and a director of forced labour
Unfree labour
Unfree labour includes all forms of slavery as well as all other related institutions .-Payment for unfree labour:If payment occurs, it may be in one or more of the following forms:...

 during the war. Speer recalls that the whole work force — masons, carpenters, plumbers, etc. were invited to inspect the finished building. Hitler then addressed the workers in the Sportpalast
Berlin Sportpalast
The Berliner Sportpalast was a multi-purpose winter sport venue and meeting hall in the Schöneberg section of Berlin. Depending on the type of event and seating configuration, the Sportpalast could hold up to 14,000 people and was for a time the biggest meeting hall in the German capital...

. However, interior fittings dragged on well into the early 1940s.

In the end it cost over 90 Million Reichsmark, well over one billion dollars today, and hosted the ministries of the Reich.

In his memoirs, Speer described the impression of the Reichskanzlei on a visitor:
The series of rooms comprising the approach to Hitler's reception gallery were decorated with a rich variety of materials and colours and totalled 220 m (725 ft) in length. The gallery itself was 145 m (480 ft) long. Hitler's own office was 400 square meters in size. From the exterior, the chancellery had a stern, authoritarian appearance. From the Wilhelmplatz
Wilhelmplatz is a former square in the Mitte district of Berlin, Germany at the corner of Wilhelmstrasse and Voßstraße. The square also gave its name to a Berlin U-Bahn station which has since been renamed Mohrenstraße...

, visitors would enter the Chancellery through the Court of Honour (Ehrenhof). The building's main entrance was flanked by two bronze statues by sculptor Arno Breker
Arno Breker
Arno Breker was a German sculptor, best known for his public works in Nazi Germany, which were endorsed by the authorities as the antithesis of degenerate art....

: "Wehrmacht" and "Partei" ("Armed Forces" and "Party"). Hitler is said to have been greatly impressed by the building and was uncharacteristically effusive with his praise for Speer, lauding the architect as a "genius". The chancellor's immense study was a particular favourite of the dictator. The large marble-topped table served as an important part of the Nazi
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

 leader's military headquarters, the study being used for military conferences from 1944 on. On the other hand, the Cabinet room was never used for its intended purpose.

The New Reich Chancellery was badly damaged during the Battle of Berlin
Battle of Berlin
The Battle of Berlin, designated the Berlin Strategic Offensive Operation by the Soviet Union, was the final major offensive of the European Theatre of World War II....

 in April 1945. After the war, the remains in what was now East Berlin
East Berlin
East Berlin was the name given to the eastern part of Berlin between 1949 and 1990. It consisted of the Soviet sector of Berlin that was established in 1945. The American, British and French sectors became West Berlin, a part strongly associated with West Germany but a free city...

 were demolished by orders of the Soviet occupation forces. Parts of the building's marble walls were said to be used to build the Soviet war memorial
Soviet War Memorial (Treptower Park)
The Soviet War Memorial, is a vast war memorial and military cemetery in Berlin's Treptower Park. It was built to the design of the Soviet architect Yakov Belopolsky to commemorate 5,000 of the 80,000 Soviet soldiers who fell in the Battle of Berlin in April–May 1945...

 in Treptower Park
Treptower Park
Treptower Park is a park along the river Spree in Alt-Treptow, in the district of Treptow-Köpenick, south of central Berlin. The park is a popular place for recreation of Berliners and a tourist attraction...

 or to renovate the nearby war-damaged Mohrenstraße
Mohrenstraße (Berlin U-Bahn)
Mohrenstraße is an underground railway station in the German capital city of Berlin. It is part of the Berlin U-Bahn and is located on the line in the district of Mitte.-Overview:...

Berlin U-Bahn
The Berlin is a rapid transit railway in Berlin, the capital city of Germany, and is a major part of the public transport system of that city. Opened in 1902, the serves 173 stations spread across ten lines, with a total track length of , about 80% of which is underground...

 station which is an early version of an urban legend. Some of the red marble was used in the palatial Underground stations in Moscow. Also a heater from Hitler's rooms was replaced in a Protestant hospital.

While the western half of the premises were seized for the "death strip" of the Berlin Wall
Berlin Wall
The Berlin Wall was a barrier constructed by the German Democratic Republic starting on 13 August 1961, that completely cut off West Berlin from surrounding East Germany and from East Berlin...

 in 1961, a Plattenbau
Plattenbau is the German word for a building whose structure is constructed of large, prefabricated concrete slabs. The word is a compound of Platte and Bau...

apartment block and a kindergarten were erected on the eastern corner with Wilhelmstraße in the 1980s.

Social legacy

The Old and New Reich Chancellery served as a gathering place for militarists, scientists, artists, industrialists, economists, nobility, socialites, athletes, and politicos from throughout world during the 1930s and 40s, and hosted elaborate parties. Guests included Erna Sack
Erna Sack
Erna Sack was a German coloratura soprano of exceptional talent.-Biography:Erna Sack was born in Spandau, Berlin. Her maiden name was Weber, and as a child her voice attracted attention both at school and in the church choir in which she sang. In 1921, Erna married Hermann Sack...

, Galeazzo Ciano
Galeazzo Ciano
Gian Galeazzo Ciano, 2nd Count of Cortellazzo and Buccari was an Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Benito Mussolini's son-in-law. In early 1944 Count Ciano was shot by firing squad at the behest of his father-in-law, Mussolini under pressure from Nazi Germany.-Early life:Ciano was born in...

, Lord Londonderry
Charles Vane-Tempest-Stewart, 7th Marquess of Londonderry
Charles Stewart Henry Vane-Tempest-Stewart, 7th Marquess of Londonderry, KG, MVO, PC, PC , styled Lord Stewart until 1884 and Viscount Castlereagh between 1884 and 1915, was an Anglo-Irish peer and had careers in both Irish and British politics...

, Herbert Hoover
Herbert Hoover
Herbert Clark Hoover was the 31st President of the United States . Hoover was originally a professional mining engineer and author. As the United States Secretary of Commerce in the 1920s under Presidents Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge, he promoted partnerships between government and business...

, Yosuke Matsuoka
Yosuke Matsuoka
was a diplomat and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Empire of Japan during the early stages of World War II. He is best known for his defiant speech at the League of Nations in 1933, ending Japan’s participation in that organization...

, Philipp of Hesse, the La Scala Ballet, Nevile Henderson
Nevile Henderson
Sir Nevile Meyrick Henderson, KCMG , was the third child of Robert and Emma Henderson and was born at Sedgwick Park near Horsham, West Sussex. Ambassador of Great Britain to Germany from 1937 to 1939, he believed that Adolf Hitler could be controlled and pushed toward peace and cooperation with...

, Haj Amin Husseini, Unity Mitford
Unity Mitford
Unity Valkyrie Mitford was a member of the aristocratic Mitford family, tracing its origins in Northumberland back to the 11th century Norman settlement of England. Unity Mitford's sister Diana was married to Oswald Mosley, leader of British Union of Fascists...

, Vyacheslav Molotov
Vyacheslav Molotov
Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov was a Soviet politician and diplomat, an Old Bolshevik and a leading figure in the Soviet government from the 1920s, when he rose to power as a protégé of Joseph Stalin, to 1957, when he was dismissed from the Presidium of the Central Committee by Nikita Khrushchev...

, Thomas Beecham
Thomas Beecham
Sir Thomas Beecham, 2nd Baronet CH was an English conductor and impresario best known for his association with the London Philharmonic and the Royal Philharmonic orchestras. He was also closely associated with the Liverpool Philharmonic and Hallé orchestras...

, Emil Hácha
Emil Hácha
Emil Hácha was a Czech lawyer, the third President of Czecho-Slovakia from 1938 to 1939. From March 1939, he presided under the German Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia.-Judicial career:...

, Thomas J. Watson
Thomas J. Watson
Thomas John Watson, Sr. was president of International Business Machines , who oversaw that company's growth into an international force from 1914 to 1956...

, Arthur Balfour
Arthur Balfour, 1st Baron Riverdale
Arthur Balfour, 1st Baron Riverdale GBE , known as Sir Arthur Balfour, 1st Baronet, from 1929 to 1935, was a British steel manufacturer.Balfour was the son of Herbert Balfour...

, F.H. Fentener
Frits Fentener van Vlissingen (1882)
Frederik Hendrik, or Frits Fentener van Vlissingen was a Dutch businessman and entrepreneur creditted with growing SHV into the first Dutch multinational corporation...

, Leni Riefenstahl
Leni Riefenstahl
Helene Bertha Amalie "Leni" Riefenstahl was a German film director, actress and dancer widely noted for her aesthetics and innovations as a filmmaker. Her most famous film was Triumph des Willens , a propaganda film made at the 1934 Nuremberg congress of the Nazi Party...

, Sven Hedin
Sven Hedin
Sven Anders Hedin KNO1kl RVO was a Swedish geographer, topographer, explorer, photographer, and travel writer, as well as an illustrator of his own works...

, Franz Josef II of Liechtenstein, Max Schmeling
Max Schmeling
Maximillian Adolph Otto Siegfried Schmeling was a German boxer who was heavyweight champion of the world between 1930 and 1932. His two fights with Joe Louis in the late 1930s transcended boxing, and became worldwide social events because of their national associations...

, John Simon
John Simon, 1st Viscount Simon
John Allsebrook Simon, 1st Viscount Simon GCSI GCVO OBE PC was a British politician who held senior Cabinet posts from the beginning of the First World War to the end of the Second. He is one of only three people to have served as Home Secretary, Foreign Secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer,...

, Maksim Purkayev
Maksim Purkayev
Maksim Alexeyevich Purkayev , 1894, in the village of Nalitovo, Dubyonsky Uyezd, Volhynian Governorate, Russian Empire - January 1, 1953, Moscow) was a Soviet military leader, reaching service rank of Army General....

, Pál Teleki
Pál Teleki
Pál Count Teleki de Szék was prime minister of Hungary from 19 July 1920 to 14 April 1921 and from 16 February 1939 to 3 April 1941. He was also a famous expert in geography, a university professor, a member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and Chief Scout of the Hungarian Scout Association...

, Vladimir Dekanozov
Vladimir Dekanozov
Vladimir Georgievich Dekanozov ) was a Soviet senior state security operative and diplomat.-Before Second World War:...

, Gonzalo Queipo de Llano
Gonzalo Queipo de Llano
Gonzalo Queipo de Llano y Sierra, 1st Marquis of Queipo de Llano, a title bestowed upon him, to crown his professional career at the service of the "New" Spain forged by Dictator of Spain, 1939 - 1975, General Francisco Franco on 1 April 1950, once he had decided Spain would be again a Kingdom...

, Sumner Welles
Sumner Welles
Benjamin Sumner Welles was an American government official and diplomat in the Foreign Service. He was a major foreign policy adviser to President Franklin D. Roosevelt and served as Under Secretary of State from 1937 to 1943, during FDR's presidency.-Early life:Benjamin Sumner Welles was born in...

, Károly Csáky
Károly Csáky
Count Károly Csáky de Körösszeg et Adorján was a Hungarian military officer and politician, who served as Minister of Defence between 1923 and 1929. During the World War I he fought on the Eastern Front, where he seriously injured. After the establishment of the Hungarian Soviet Republic he...

, Paul of Yugoslavia
Prince Paul of Yugoslavia
Prince Paul of Yugoslavia, also known as Paul Karađorđević , was Regent of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia during the minority of King Peter II. Peter was the eldest son of his first cousin Alexander I...

, Olga of Greece and Denmark
Princess Olga of Greece and Denmark
Princess Olga of Greece and Denmark was the granddaughter of King George I of Greece and wife of the last Prince Regent of Yugoslavia.-Early life:...

, and Anthony Eden
Anthony Eden
Robert Anthony Eden, 1st Earl of Avon, KG, MC, PC was a British Conservative politician, who was Prime Minister from 1955 to 1957...


The Duke and Duchess of Windsor
Duke of Windsor
The title Duke of Windsor was created in the Peerage of the United Kingdom in 1937 for Prince Edward, the former King Edward VIII, following his abdication in December 1936. The dukedom takes its name from the town where Windsor Castle, a residence of English monarchs since the Norman Conquest, is...

 were hosted at the Hotel Kaiserhof overlooking the Chancellery in 1937.


See also

  • German Chancellery
    German Chancellery
    The German Chancellery is a federal agency serving the executive office of the Chancellor, the head of the German federal government. The chief of the Chancellery holds the rank of either a Secretary of State or a Federal Minister ...

  • Führerbunker
    The Führerbunker was located beneath Hitler's New Reich Chancellery in Berlin, Germany. It was part of a subterranean bunker complex which was constructed in two major phases, one part in 1936 and the other in 1943...

  • Nazi architecture
    Nazi architecture
    Nazi architecture was an architectural plan which played a role in the Nazi party's plans to create a cultural and spiritual rebirth in Germany as part of the Third Reich....

  • Vorbunker
    The Vorbunker or "forward bunker" was located behind the large reception hall that was added onto the old Reich Chancellery, in Berlin, Germany. It was meant to be a temporary air-raid shelter for Adolf Hitler, his guards, and servants...

  • Welthauptstadt Germania
    Welthauptstadt Germania
    Welthauptstadt Germania refers to the projected renewal of the German capital Berlin during the Nazi period, part of Adolf Hitler's vision for the future of Germany after the planned victory in World War II...


25fps-filmproduction GmbH & Co. KG (3D Computer Animation "Construction History and Street Facades" and "Garden Facades and Court of Honor")

External links

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