A concrete cylinder shouldn’t on anyone’s list of thing to do in Berlin. But the Schwerbelastungskorper is more than just a slab of concrete and a really scary german name. The Schwerbelastungskörper is one of the few structures that survived to tell the story of Welthauptstadt Germania, the capital of the new german world that never survived the Second World War.
I don’t remember when I found out about this place but I remember the feeling I had in the back of my mind the first time I saw it. It took me a while to visit the place and all the pictures here are from that warm and sunny sunday were I decided it was time.
After reading this two paragraphs, you might be wondering why would anybody care about this piece of concrete. But, the Schwerbelastungskörper is worth the visit.
Back in the 1920’s, Adolf Hitler was using his artistic skills to sketch what he saw as the future capital of the upcoming German Empire. This city would be a improved version of Berlin and it would be called Welthauptstadt Germania.
The Welthauptstadt Germania would be the megalomaniacal dream of a crazy dictator but we will never see this outside of the history books. The only thing we can see, and visit, is the concrete cylinder that was built by the orders of Albert Speer, the First Architect of the Third Reich, to see if it was possible to built the mega city.
Schwerbelastungskorper was nothing more that a feasibility study to see if it was possible to construct a massive triumphal arch dreamed by Adolf Hitler to remember the german soldiers who died during the First World War.
This arch would be more that 100 meters high and almost 170 meters wide. But, building such a huge structure in the sandy ground of Berlin could be a problem. So, back in 1941, Dyckerhoff & Widmann AG built the massive 18 meters high structure that weights more than 12.500 tonnes.
If the Schwerbelastungskorper were to sink less than 6 centimeters, the soil would be deemed good enough to allow further constructions. But it ended up sinking 18 centimeters after three years. Adolf Hitler ignored this findings but, at that time, the war was on a stage where it was impossible to build such a thing.
Due to the nearby apartment buildings in the area, the structure wasn’t demolished at the end of the Second World War. Since 1995, the structure is on the list of historical buildings in Berlin and, since 2002, it is property of the Tempelhof-Schöneberg.
You can visit the Schwerbelastungskörper and do the historical tour and climb on the platform above it and see the great view from the top. This is the best way to understand the massive size of this concrete structure. The guided tours happen between April and October and are held by Berliner Unterwelten e.V. every sunday at noon.
If you don’t want to do the tour, just go to the corner of Dudenstrasse and General-Pape-Strasse and you will find everything you need. The site is only open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. So, be sure to check the official Schwerbelastungskorper website to avoid problems.
General-Pape-Straße 34A, 12101 Berlin