Bethanien (Berlin)

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Bethanien am Mariannenplatz , 2016

The Bethanien at Mariannenplatz in the Berlin district of Kreuzberg ( SO 36 ) was a deaconess hospital and was founded in the mid-19th century as the Central Deaconess House Bethanien and as a legacy of King Friedrich Wilhelm IV . It was shut down in 1970, and citizens' groups prevented it from being demolished. The State of Berlin placed the Bethanien under monument protection and bought it. Since then it has served as a place for cultural, artistic and social institutions and self-organized initiatives and is run under the name Künstlerhaus Bethanien .

Historical background

The construction of the Deaconess Hospital is closely linked to the construction of Luisenstadt , a city quarter within the city wall, but a little outside, southeast of the center of Berlin on the Köpenicker Feld. Development of this area became necessary due to the steadily increasing population of Berlin. After Friedrich Wilhelm IV. Himself, still as Crown Prince, had drawn up different plans for the previously sparsely populated area, which could not be implemented due to their utopian character, he commissioned Peter Joseph Lenné to develop an urban planning plan for the area. The plan from 1841 envisaged, in addition to a curve of the Luisenstadt Canal , a strong centering of the Luisenstadt itself, but at that time had not yet specified a specific building towards which the centering should run. At the same time, the search for a suitable location for a new hospital was underway, as the Charité had been overwhelmed by the steadily growing population of Berlin for some time. The suggestion for the place came from Theodor Fliedner , the founder of the deaconess institution in Kaiserswerth , with whom the king was in lively exchange because of his pietistic belief. The surroundings of the site were also decisive, as in addition to the hospital a school, an orphanage and a place for female former prisoners were to be built and there was space for this on the Köpenicker Feld.

In addition, this matched the king's ideas of churches and diakonia: “They should be picturesque structures, groups of buildings embedded in greenery, islands of promise that he intended to set up as mission stations in the city. These were pious and noble thoughts, but they had nothing to do with the reality of the Berlin housing misery and ignored the problem of the emerging proletariat in the industrial city of Berlin. "

View from the Luisenstadt Canal to the west side of the hospital, 19th century

Hospital and training center

Foundation and construction phase

The "establishment of an institute for the training of nurses, with which [...] an own hospital should be connected" was the order for which the architect Ludwig Persius made the first draft. After Persius' death in 1845 his colleague Theodor August Stein took over the construction under the direction of the Schinkel student Stüler . However, the role of King Friedrich Wilhelm IV in the architectural planning process should not be underestimated. Dieter Hoffmann-Axthelm even sees him as the author of the building, who the architects used as “tools” to realize his idea. “Architecture served the king as a visualization of his plans for social reform,” explains Scarpa. As evidence, Hoffmann-Axthelm cites original plans in which changes are marked in pencil, which he ascribes to Friedrich Wilhelm himself. He sees the role of Theodor August Stein more in the technical and less in the aesthetic design of the building. Construction began in 1845 and was completed in 1847. To plan the interior design, Stein traveled all over Europe to visit the most modern hospitals. The main focus was on the facilities that are important for hygiene and supply. When it opened, the Bethanien was at the cutting edge of technology and was the starting point for the development of Luisenstadt, because "When the house was handed over to its intended use in October 1847, it was still outside the city limits, in the middle of gardens and rye fields."

The horseshoe-shaped complex was designed in a simple round arch style , the main wing of which is surmounted in the middle by a risalit with two 35 meter high, slender towers.

In the revolutionary years of 1848/1849, in the course of the fighting of the revolution in Berlin, when the king had the demonstrators shot, a large number of injured people came to Bethanien against their will, where they were asked by the sisters to show repentance and on the other hand, the majority of them died. According to Spode, this is not due to bad intent, but it is due to inadequate medical care. The hospital was said to pay less attention to actual medical care than to the Christian salvation, which was due to the pietistic orientation of the hospital and the associated notion that illness was connected with the absence of God. The fate of the revolutionaries is exciting in that they had already considered storming Bethanien, because it seemed to them to be a “haven of reaction”. That they were being brought there and, instead of being cared for, were pressed to repent and died, only confirmed their assumption.

At the same time Theodor Fontane was working as a pharmacist in the hospital. During this time he trained Emmy Danckwerts as a pharmacist. Fontane probably moved into Bethanien exactly when riots broke out in the meadow in front of Bethanien. Workers had destroyed a steam engine that was being used in the construction of the Luisenstadt Canal, because they saw in it the reason for the loss of their jobs. When it came to mass layoffs in order to make an example, riots broke out in which 11 workers were shot by a vigilante / voluntary corps. The uprising was put down and, as a result, even more workers were laid off.

The partly original Fontane pharmacy is located on the ground floor of the northeast corner of the main building.

On March 31, 1855, a cabinet order from Friedrich Wilhelm IV transferred the property and the buildings erected by then to the Diakonissenhaus Bethanien , which is defined as a free, mild foundation of the Protestant Church in Prussia . In 1863, by order of King Wilhelm , the foundation received an additional foundation capital of 250,000  thalers , which replaced the subsidies that had been paid until then.

In the following years, the Bethanien was expanded to include a morgue in 1851. In 1857 it was decided to build a farm yard and stables to improve the supply. The situation of the staff improved in 1877 with a retirement home for the deaconesses, the after-work house and the Martha-Maria nurses' home opened in 1893. Both buildings were extended together with the north wing at the beginning of the 20th century according to plans by Julius Boethken. A children's home in the seaside resort of Heringsdorf was connected in 1882 and a preschool for deaconesses was set up in 1894. Nevertheless, at the beginning of the 20th century there was a "shortage of young people and the deaconesses overworked". In 1912 a seminar for Christian kindergarten teachers was founded, which was based on "educational work".

Bethanien from Muskauer Strasse

Inclusion in the tenement town

According to the royal plans, Lenné created the park-like area around the house, but meanwhile the tide had turned in the design of the city and also on the Köpenicker field: "After Schinkel's death [1841] everything that concerned town planning the Berlin Police President ". Berlin was the Hohenzollern residence and in the residences the (state) police stood above the magistrate. Even the king didn't have much to report, his buildings were now only 'obsolete models'. The chief of police ordered the construction of the tenement barracks , only its regulations were applicable (e.g. the construction of five-storey buildings with side wings and transverse buildings) - industrialization brought the population growth fivefold in the following five decades (365,000 to 1.7 million) .

The Bethanien now stood in the middle of the tenement town .

In 1869 there was a disaster, because the hospital 900 people died following surgery to gangrene . The sometimes desperate attempts by the Hungarian doctor Ignaz Semmelweis to introduce hygiene measures (e.g. disinfecting cutlery) in the hospitals had not yet succeeded. Presumably the chronicler withholds the massive deaths of those who have recently given birth . In the Franco-German War (1870/1871) that followed soon after , most of the deaconesses were withdrawn as hospital nurses, as was the case in the First World War in 1914/1918.


Bethanien Hospital, postcard (around 1912)

In the years 1929/1930, the architects Carl Mohr and Paul Weidner planned and implemented extensive renovations and extensions, as documents from the architecture museum of the TU Berlin show.

According to the exhibition chronicle, it was "1929/1930 [about] the construction of the large seminar house for youth leaders, as a household school, kindergarten and day care center [and] in 1930 [about] the building of the 'Tabea' house (courses and nurses' home)."

National Socialism

In 1933, the management of the Bethanien refused the National Socialists ' request for party comrades to fill the leadership positions.

At the behest of the Gestapo , the seminar house was confiscated in 1941. A hospital for the blind was set up. During the Second World War there were personnel shortages as many doctors (and certainly also nurses) were dispatched to the front. In 1943 "minor damage" and in 1945 "severe damage" from air raids were reported - probably from the major attack by the Allied bomber fleets on February 3, 1945 .

At the end of April 1945 the hospital was not damaged any further (by artillery) when the Soviet troops marched through.


post war period

After the damage was repaired immediately (improvised until 1947), the large south wing was renewed in 1950/1951.

In the course of the construction of the wall , the number of patients from the eastern part of the city in particular fell almost completely. The hospital became insolvent (1966) and demolition plans became known (1968): The renowned architect Sigrid Kressmann-Zschach only wanted the main building to remain, “surrounded by residential silos and old people's homes. [...] The Association of German Architects is attacking this speculative object. ”The complex was successfully placed under monument protection. (1969)

Closure and unclear future of the complex

The hospital was closed in 1970: “The church sells it for 10.5 million ( marks ) to the state (Berlin). Public controversy about the use. "

Access to the smoke house

On December 19, 1971, young people occupied the vacant former nurses' home Martha-Maria-Haus - an outbuilding on the Bethanien grounds. The incident met with a great (press) response. The occupiers renamed the building the Georg von Rauch House ; after the death of a police operation.

The headlines were also made by a police raid on April 19, 1972, which featured the rock band Ton Steine ​​Scherben in the Rauch-Haus song .

As a result of the disputes, the Berlin Senate reached an agreement with the occupiers, who were supported by the general public, on legal use as a youth housing project. The project was endangered for a long time, mainly due to internal disputes and conflicts over construction issues and contracts, before it went through a consolidation that continues to this day.

In 2011 the Georg-von-Rauch-Haus celebrated its 40th birthday as the Kreuzberg Youth and Culture Center. V.

Künstlerhaus Bethanien

First line-up in 1973

As part of the legalization of the occupation and also to stabilize the new use, artist groups and finally the Bbk berlin (Professional Association of Visual Artists Berlin) reopened the Bethanien as a "Center for Culture and Social Affairs with the studio and exhibition program of Künstlerhaus Bethanien GmbH".

Renewed occupation and petition for citizens

After a long prosperous phase, the center fell into a crisis again in 2004/2005 when the senior citizens' meeting place closed and the social welfare office moved out of the south wing, the rooms of which were then occupied by the “ Yorck59 ” group on June 11, 2005. Due to the occupation and a referendum by the Initiative Zukunft Bethanien (IZB), the sale of Bethanien to a private investor , which was decided at the end of 2002 by the District Assembly (BVV) Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg , was stopped. According to the will of the district, an international cultural start- up center should be set up in Bethanien .

As a result of the petition for the various sides agreed to a round table on the development of the house. The Bethanien thus remained in public hands for the time being and the course was set for a development towards an open center: “The current users and the public should have the opportunity to participate in the further development of Bethanien into an open cultural, artistic, political and social center to participate ”.

From the 21st century

On May 1, 2009, the GSE (Gesellschaft für StadtEnt Entwicklung non-profit GmbH, trustee of Berlin) took over the management. The existing anchor users , the house project 'Yorck59' and a large number of smaller initiatives and projects remained as tenants.

In 2015 around 25 social and cultural institutions worked on the Bethanien premises. The main building houses the printing workshop of the Professional Association of Visual Artists Berlin, the exhibition rooms of the Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg Cultural Office (Kunstraum Kreuzberg / Bethanien) and the Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg Music School. In June 2010, Künstlerhaus Bethanien GmbH , which has also worked at Bethanien since 1973, moved its international studio and exhibition program from the main building to Kohlfurter Strasse 41–43 in Kreuzberg. Since 2002 the NewYorck in Bethanien has been in the south wing of the main building with its projects. In the outbuildings, there is space for the Kreuzberg Workers' Welfare Association, parts of the Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg Youth Welfare Office, the Pestalozzi-Froebel House and other youth and social facilities. The Kreuzberg open-air cinema is also located on the site.


  • Walter Kiaulehn: Berlin. Fate of a cosmopolitan city , Biederstein Verlag, Munich Berlin 1958.

Web links

Commons : Bethanien  - Collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. For the striking portal situation Persius and Stein were possibly inspired by the Ducal Palace in Urbino , Italy .
  2. Since the Oberbaum Bridge was destroyed, pioneers crossed the Lohmühlen Canal. A German unit defended the Görlitz station , the Soviet artillery concentrated there saved the further destruction of the surrounding district. Through SO 36, Soviet units advanced to Moritzplatz without resistance.
  3. The occupiers named the project in connection with their former house project New York59 . While the squatters live on one floor, the other is made available to self-organized projects and used for events.
  4. The tenants are involved in advisory boards in the further development of the building: On the one hand, the south wing of the building (including NewYorck im Bethanien, Heilpraktikerschule in self-administration, Kita-Nord) and on the other hand the main and north wing (including the printing workshop of the BBK, media workshop in the BBK , Kunstraum Kreuzberg / Bethanien, Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg Music School, International Theater Institute , Dramaturgical Society, Federal Association of Independent Theater, Air Dance Theater).

Individual evidence

  1. ^ List, map, database / Landesdenkmalamt Berlin. Retrieved June 25, 2018 .
  2. ^ A b Ludovica Scarpa: The building of Bethany: An example of conservative social policy . In: Sonja Günther and Dietrich Worbs (eds.): Architecture experiments in Berlin and elsewhere: for Julius Posener . Berlin 1989, p. 125 ff .
  3. ^ Walter Kiaulehn: Berlin. Fate of a cosmopolitan city . Biederstein Verlag, Munich Berlin 1958, p. 85.
  4. ^ A b Ludovica Scarpa: The building of Bethany: An example of conservative social policy . In: Sonja Günther and Dietrich Worbs (eds.): Architecture experiments in Berlin and elsewhere: for Julius Posener . Berlin 1989, p. 125 ff .
  5. a b Dieter Hoffmann-Axthelm: Bethanien - A historical note on the relationship between architecture and ideology . In: Sonja Günther and Dietrich Worbs (eds.): Architecture experiments in Berlin and elsewhere: for Julius Posener . Berlin 1989, p. 139 .
  6. ^ Theodor Stein: The Deaconess Institution in Berlin . Berlin 1850, p. 1 .
  7. Quotations from the display boards in the northeast wing of Bethanien near the Fontane pharmacy.
  8. a b c Hasso Spode: The hospital of the Diakonissen-Anstalt Bethanien in Berlin Mariannenplatz 1-3 . In: Helmut Engel / Wenzel Jersch / Wilhelm Treue (eds.): Berlin History Landscape - Places and Events - Volume 5 - Kreuzberg . Berlin 1994, p. 325 .
  9. Wolfgang Jürries (Ed.): Wendland-Lexikon, Volume 1, Köhring Verlag, Lüchow 2000.
  10. Printed in Bethanien: The first fifty years and the current status of the Bethanien Diakonissenhaus zu Berlin. Berlin: Diakonissenhaus Bethanien 1897, p. 54.
  11. Printed in Bethanien: The first fifty years and the current status of the Bethanien Diakonissenhaus zu Berlin. Berlin: Diakonissenhaus Bethanien 1897, p. 69.
  12. Information according to the chronicle of the exhibition boards on site (is there a reference to a website?).
  13. Kiaulehn: Only the church yards in the city center that were not allowed to be built on were saved from suffocation by the Berliners. (P. 87).
  14. Information from 1869 to 1914/1918 exhibition board.
  15. Architecture Museum of the TU Berlin . In: Architekturmuseum Berlin . June 25, 2018 ( [accessed June 25, 2018]).
  16. Exhibition history on site.
  17. Information on the exhibition boards.
  18. The IZB counters this with a concept of an “open social, cultural, artistic and political center from below”. The IZB managed to collect the necessary 5000 signatures for the referendum. In September 2006, BVV agreed to a compromise negotiated with the IZB and thus accepted essential demands of the citizens' initiative.
  19. ^ Resolution of the Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg District Assembly of Berlin on September 4, 2006 (PDF; 17 kB).

Coordinates: 52 ° 30 ′ 14 "  N , 13 ° 25 ′ 28"  E