Greater Berlin

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Greater Berlin is a name for the city and unitary community of Berlin within the boundaries of the urban area that was created in 1920, as it still exists today with only a few changes.

The expansion of Berlin through the Greater Berlin Act
Population development in Berlin from 1871 to 2018. The change in area is also noticeable in the population.

In the 19th century, the industrial agglomeration of Berlin developed partly without coordinated infrastructure and urban planning , with the Hobrecht Plan finally making metropolitan structures possible across regions from 1862 onwards. After a special purpose association formed in 1911 had proven to be inadequate, the formation of the urban area over an area of ​​878 km² created more opportunities for coordinated planning and the compensation of large financial and social imbalances between parts of the area.

When it emerged on October 1, 1920, Greater Berlin was the most populous municipality in the world with 3.8 million inhabitants after London and New York and, with 878 km² after Los Angeles, the most extensive municipality in the world. As a result, the number of inhabitants rose again by around a sixth by the end of 1942 to a maximum of almost 4.5 million. Immediately after the end of the war , the population was 2.8 million and rose again to around 3.4 million in the post-war period . After a slight decline in the 1990s, the population rose again at the beginning of the 21st century to around 3.5 million in 2015. Forecasts from this period assume that the population figures of the 1920s will be reached again in the 2020s. The expansion of Greater Berlin has not changed significantly , taking into account the division in the meantime , the political upheavals and administrative reorganizations and, after some area exchanges and adjustments, is 891.68 km².

Development to Greater Berlin

Map of the 1861 area expansion

Since the beginning of the industrial revolution , but especially during the high industrialization after the founding of the German Empire in 1871, Berlin's population grew steadily . Free areas in the capital of Prussia and the German Empire, which bordered neighboring communities and were previously mainly used for agriculture, were increasingly needed for residential and industrial purposes .

It had been discussed since around 1820 whether the Berlin urban area could be expanded by incorporating the suburbs of Moabit and Wedding , the zoo and the arable land of Schöneberg and Tempelhof bordering Berlin to the south . The actors in the city and the surrounding area only represented short-term self-interest: the Niederbarnim district advocated the incorporation of Moabit and Wedding because the high social spending there burdened the district budget, the Teltow district was against the incorporation of the Schöneberg and Tempelhof areas because the local bourgeois population was one was an important source of tax revenue. The Berlin city council refused to take over the financially weak working-class communities Moabit and Wedding, but was very interested in the wealthy Schöneberg and Tempelhof areas. After 40 years of fruitless local political discussion, the above-mentioned areas were incorporated into the city of Berlin by a royal cabinet resolution of January 28, 1860, on January 1 of the following year.

In order to unite the conflicting interests of the city and the surrounding area in a joint instance, Lord Mayor Arthur Johnson Hobrecht proposed in 1875 that the cities of Berlin, Charlottenburg , Spandau and Köpenick and the districts of Teltow and Niederbarnim be founded into a new "Province of Berlin". In return, Berlin wanted to forego incorporation in order to meet the interests of the districts. However, the plan was rejected by the districts as well as in the parliaments of the city and the country. The Prussian government had no interest in the capital region leaving its core province of Brandenburg .

Since the 1890s, the discussion about the uncoordinated development in urban and transport planning and the non-solidarity financing of joint tasks increased again. The rich suburbs in the south and west benefited from the low social costs of their affluent population, which enabled them to cut taxes, while the opposite effect occurred in the core city and the eastern suburbs.

In January 1906 the government master builder Emanuel Heimann , the architect Albert Hofmann and the building officer Theodor Goecke applied to the Association of Berlin Architects for an ideas competition for the creation of a uniform baseline plan. In cooperation with the Berlin Architects 'Association, an architects' committee for Greater Berlin was founded in the same year under the chairmanship of the secret building officer Otto March . In 1907 he published the "Suggestions for obtaining a basic plan for the urban development of Greater Berlin", which recommended a uniform development plan and formulated basic principles. As a result, an international “competition for a basic plan for the development of Greater Berlin”, or “Greater Berlin Competition” for short, ran from 1908 to December 1909. Shortly before the submission deadline, it was decided to expand the presentation to include a “General Urban Development Exhibition”, which took place at the University of Fine Arts in Charlottenburg from May to June 1910. The projects of the groups of Hermann Jansens , Josef Brix and Felix Genzmer in cooperation with the Hochbahngesellschaft (combined first and second prize) and Bruno Möhring , Rudolph Eberstadt and Richard Petersen (third prize) were awarded.

With the formation of a special purpose association for Greater Berlin (law of July 19, 1911) an attempt was made on the one hand to overcome some of the problems, but on the other hand to prevent a dominant position of the "red" Berlin in Prussian and imperial politics. However, this association was so non-binding that it could hardly meet the expectations placed on it. The increasing social differentiation between the communities caused additional problems and the association had no competencies in questions of social equality.

In 1912, the population of the city of Berlin, which had only increased slowly since the turn of the century, peaked at around 2.1 million.

Ultimately, it took the collapse of the German Empire through the First World War and the Revolution to finally politically enforce the creation of Greater Berlin. As a lasting success of the association, the extensive forests in the Berlin Weichbild have been preserved. They go back to the permanent forest contract of 1915.

The Greater Berlin Law

The Berlin urban area before (dark red) and after 1920 (the pink area represents today's Berlin urban area, which roughly corresponds to the area under the Greater Berlin Act)

The driving force behind the law on the formation of a new township in Berlin of April 27, 1920, or Greater Berlin Law for short , was Berlin's Lord Mayor Adolf Wermuth .

In the vote on April 27, 1920 in the Prussian constitutional assembly , the SPD , USPD and parts of the DDP voted in favor, DNVP , DVP and the center against. The law was passed by 164 votes to 148 with five abstentions and came into force on October 1, 1920. This means that the six independent cities of Berlin-Lichtenberg , Berlin-Schöneberg , Berlin-Wilmersdorf , Charlottenburg , Neukölln and Spandau as well as from the surrounding districts of Niederbarnim , Osthavelland and Teltow the municipality of Cöpenick , 59 rural communities and 27 manor districts were incorporated into the previous municipality of Berlin .

In addition to the 1.9 million Berliners up to then, there were another 1.9 million inhabitants; almost 1.2 million of them through the seven surrounding cities alone. The urban area increased from 66 km² to 878 km². This made Berlin - after Los Angeles - the second largest city in terms of area and in terms of population - after London (7.3 million) and New York (5.6 million) - the third largest city in the world.

After the urban district of Berlin had left the province of Brandenburg in 1881 , it now formed its own administrative district with functions similar to that of the province with the incorporated regional authorities in the Free State of Prussia . Greater Berlin was created with 20 consecutively numbered districts ,

  • Six districts were founded from the old urban area of ​​Berlin ( Alt-Berlin );
  • 14 districts were founded from the incorporated municipalities, rural communities and manor districts, whereby these were named after the largest urban or rural municipality in terms of population.
Allocation of the eight municipalities, 59 rural communities and 27 manor districts
to the 20 new Greater Berlin districts
place Corporation (number) district District number
Berlin center Municipality (1) center 1
Berlin Tiergarten Municipality (1) Zoo 2
Berlin-Wedding Municipality (1) Wedding 3
Berlin-Prenzlauer Tor Municipality (1) Prenzlauer Tor 4th
Berlin-Friedrichshain Municipality (1) Friedrichshain 5
Berlin-Hallesches Tor Municipality (1) Hallesches Tor 6th
Charlottenburg Municipality (2) Charlottenburg 7th
Cöpenick Municipality (3) Cöpenick 16
Berlin-Lichtenberg Municipality (4) Lichtenberg 17th
Neukölln City Parish (5) Neukölln 14th
Berlin-Schöneberg Municipality (6) Schöneberg 11
Spandau City Parish (7) Spandau 8th
Berlin-Wilmersdorf City Parish (8) Wilmersdorf 9
Adlershof Rural community (01) Treptow 15th
Alt-Glienicke Rural community (02) Treptow 15th
Biesdorf Rural community (03) Lichtenberg 17th
Blankenburg Rural community (04) Pankow 19th
Blankenfelde Rural community (05) Pankow 19th
Bohnsdorf Rural community (06) Cöpenick 16
Berlin-Britz Rural community (07) Neukölln 14th
book Rural community (08) Pankow 19th
Berlin-Buchholz Rural community (09) Pankow 19th
Buckow -East Rural community (10) Neukölln 14th
Buckow West Rural community (10) Tempelhof 13
Cladow Rural community (11) Spandau 8th
Falkenberg Rural community (12) Weissensee 18th
Berlin-Friedenau Rural community (13) Schöneberg 11
Berlin-Friedrichsfelde Rural community (14) Lichtenberg 17th
Friedrichshagen Rural community (15) Cöpenick 16
Gatow Rural community (16) Spandau 8th
Grünau Rural community (17) Cöpenick 16
Berlin-Grunewald Rural community (18) Wilmersdorf 9
Heiligensee Rural community (19) Reinickendorf 20th
Berlin-Heinersdorf Rural community (20) Pankow 19th
Hermsdorf near Berlin Rural community (21) Reinickendorf 20th
Berlin-Hohenschönhausen Rural community (22) Weissensee 18th
Berlin-Johannisthal Rural community (23) Treptow 15th
Karow Rural community (24) Pankow 19th
Kaulsdorf Rural community (25) Lichtenberg 17th
Berlin-Lankwitz Rural community (26) Steglitz 12
Lichtenrade Rural community (27) Tempelhof 13
Berlin-Lichterfelde Rural community (28) Steglitz 12
Lübars Rural community (29) Reinickendorf 20th
Mahlsdorf Rural community (30) Lichtenberg 17th
Malchow Rural community (31) Weissensee 18th
Berlin-Mariendorf Rural community (32) Tempelhof 13
Berlin-Mariendorf-Südende Rural community (32) Steglitz 12
Berlin-Marienfelde Rural community (33) Tempelhof 13
Marzahn Rural community (34) Lichtenberg 17th
Müggelheim Rural community (35) Cöpenick 16
Berlin-Niederschöneweide Rural community (36) Treptow 15th
Berlin-Niederschönhausen Rural community (37) Pankow 19th
Nikolassee Rural community (38) Zehlendorf 10
Berlin-Oberschöneweide Rural community (39) Treptow 15th
Berlin-Pankow Rural community (40) Pankow 19th
Pichelsdorf Rural community (41) Spandau 8th
Rahnsdorf Rural community (42) Cöpenick 16
Berlin-Reinickendorf Rural community (43) Reinickendorf 20th
Berlin-Rosenthal -East Rural community (44) Pankow 19th
Berlin-Rosenthal-West Rural community (44) Reinickendorf 20th
Rudow Rural community (45) Neukölln 14th
Berlin-Schmargendorf Rural community (46) Wilmersdorf 9
Schmoeckwitz Rural community (47) Cöpenick 16
Staaken Rural community (48) Spandau 8th
Berlin-Steglitz Rural community (49) Steglitz 12
Berlin-Stralau Rural community (50) Friedrichshain 5
Berlin Tegel Rural community (51) Reinickendorf 20th
Berlin-Tempelhof Rural community (52) Tempelhof 13
Tiefwerder Rural community (53) Spandau 8th
Treptow Rural community (54) Treptow 15th
Wannsee Rural community (55) Zehlendorf 10
Wartenberg Rural community (56) Weissensee 18th
Weissensee Rural community (57) Weissensee 18th
Berlin-Wittenau Rural community (58) Reinickendorf 20th
Zehlendorf Rural community (59) Zehlendorf 10
Berlin Castle Manor District (01) center 1
Biesdorf Manor District (02) Lichtenberg 17th
Blankenburg Manor District (03) Pankow 19th
Blankenfelde Manor District (04) Pankow 19th
book Manor District (05) Pankow 19th
Cöpenick Forest Manor District (06) Cöpenick 16
Berlin-Dahlem Manor District (07) Zehlendorf 10
Falkenberg Manor District (08) Weissensee 18th
Frohnau Manor District (09) Reinickendorf 20th
Grünau-Dahmer Forest Manor District (10) Cöpenick 16
Grunewald Forest Manor District (11) Wilmersdorf 9
Heerstrasse -East Manor District (12) Charlottenburg 7th
Heerstrasse-West Manor District (12) Spandau 8th
Hellersdorf with Wuhlgarten Manor District (13) Lichtenberg 17th
Klein-Glienicke Forest Manor District (14) Zehlendorf 10
Malchow Manor District (15) Weissensee 18th
Niederschönhausen with Schönholz Manor District (16) Pankow 19th
Peacock Island Manor District (17) Zehlendorf 10
Pichelswerder Manor District (18) Spandau 8th
Plötzensee Manor District (19) Charlottenburg 7th
Potsdam Forest Manor District (20) Zehlendorf 10
Berlin-Rosenthal Manor District (21) Pankow 19th
Spandau Citadel Manor District (22) Spandau 8th
Jungfernheide -North Manor District (23) Reinickendorf 20th
Jungfernheide-Süd Manor District (23) Charlottenburg 7th
Tegel Forest North Manor District (24) Reinickendorf 20th
Tegel Castle Manor District (25) Reinickendorf 20th
Wartenberg Manor District (26) Weissensee 18th
Wuhlheide Manor District (27) Treptow 15th
Chaff Manor Zehlendorf 10


  1. The previous city of Berlin was divided into six districts
  2. The district was renamed from Prenzlauer Tor to Prenzlauer Berg in 1921
  3. The district was renamed from Hallesches Tor in 1921 to Kreuzberg
  4. The rural community of Berlin-Buckow was divided and the eastern part of the district Neukölln assigned
  5. The rural community of Berlin-Buckow was divided and the western part of the district Tempelhof assigned
  6. From the rural community of Berlin-Marie village was south end separated and the remaining area of the district Tempelhof assigned
  7. Launched by the rural community of Berlin-Marie village divided the southern end of the district was Steglitz assigned
  8. The rural community of Berlin-Rosenthal was divided and the eastern part of the district of Pankow assigned
  9. The rural community of Berlin-Rosenthal was divided and the western part of the district Reinickendorf assigned
  10. The Gutsbezirk highway was divided and the eastern part of the district Charlottenburg assigned
  11. The Gutsbezirk highway was divided and the western part of the district of Spandau assigned
  12. The Gutsbezirk Jungfernheide was divided and the northern part of the district Reinickendorf assigned
  13. The Gutsbezirk Jungfernheide was partitioned and the southern part of the district Charlottenburg assigned
  14. The manor district of Düppel was attached to the municipality of Berlin (Greater Berlin) and its district of Zehlendorf in 1928

When creating the administrative districts, to which a number of self-government tasks were assigned, care was taken to ensure that “bourgeois” and “proletarian” districts were roughly balanced. Nevertheless there were “Los-von-Berlin-movements” until 1923, but all of them failed. The law made it possible to implement integrated urban planning and urban design. This created an important basis for Berlin's rise to become a metropolis with international status in the 1920s.

The law is still legally effective today, as reference is made to it in the official comments on the Unification Treaty of 1990 in order to define the extent and borders of the federal state of Berlin.

Further use of the term "Greater Berlin"

Over the decades, the term Greater Berlin disappeared more and more from linguistic usage, but was still present in the administration. It was included in the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany of May 23, 1949, where it stood until German reunification and the associated repeal of Article 23 in 1990, de jure to the whole city, but in fact only related to Berlin (West) . Thus the Government in called East Berlin until 1977 still Magistrate of Greater Berlin and the Ministry of State Security existed for Berlin next county governments for 14 of the GDR districts , the Department of Homeland Security United Berlin . The 1950 constitution of Berlin named city and country just Berlin . The term Greater Berlin was the delimiting designation of "the previous regional authority Greater Berlin".

Changes since 1920

City limits

Even if the outer city limits of Berlin are still largely identical to the one established in 1920, there have been boundary changes over the years for various reasons:

District boundaries and names

Change of limit function

Although almost unchanged over the course of the year, the character of the city limits established in 1920 has changed dramatically several times.

Street names

The amalgamation of several town centers resulted in multiple duplications of common street names, such as Dorfstraße , Hauptstraße or Bahnhofstraße . In the 1930s, a number of renaming campaigns - especially in 1931 and 1938 - began to replace some of the multiple street names with local references. Preferably the respective village street , or already main street, was replaced by the addition Alt- before the respective district. In 1938 in particular, streets with the names of members of the Hohenzollern family were named after people who were close to National Socialism. In 1950 there was another extensive change (mainly) of multiple existing street names. In 1951, around 150 street names "of a Nazi, militaristic or other out-of-date nature" were eliminated in the East Berlin districts.

Renaming is always linked to official actions, so there are still five birch avenues , five birch streets and three birch paths , three acacia avenues and two acacia streets , four oak streets or seven streets with the name Kastanienallee in the 2010s . Two of the 30 Bahnhofstrasse that were initially available through the incorporation of the districts into Berlin were no longer available , and around 20 were renamed in the last hundred years. But in 2014 there were still nine Bahnhofstrasse in Berlin in Alt-Hohenschönhausen , Blankenburg , Blankenfelde , French Buchholz , Karow , Köpenick , Lichtenrade , Lichterfelde and Schöneberg .

With the division of the city there were two independent city administrations, each of which assigned street names independently. One example is the name Hansastraße for a new street in the Weissensee district , although the name Hansastraße has existed in the Reinickendorf district of Greater Berlin since the beginning of the 20th century.

The street directory of Berlin is kept centrally, but the responsible offices in the districts are independently authorized to assign street names. In order to avoid duplication in the following, the Berlin Road Act prescribes an administrative act for the dedication of roads . In the other districts it must be clarified whether the desired street name (from the district or, in the case of private roads, the owner) is not already available in the State of Berlin.

See also


  • Adolf Stock: 100 years of Greater Berlin - How Berlin became the third largest city in the world , Deutschlandfunk Kultur , 2020


  • Theodor Koehn: The Association of Greater Berlin. Lecture at the Architects' Association in Berlin, February 20, 1911. Carl Heymanns, Berlin 1911.
  • Kurt Pomplun : 50 years of "Greater Berlin". A look back at the incorporations since 1861 with the wording of the Berlin Act of 1920 (= Berliner Forum , Volume 4/70). Berlin 1970.
  • Rudolf Reinhardt: The difficult birth of Greater Berlin. Möller's role model for a regional city Frankfurt / Many adversaries inside and outside. In: FAZ , February 27, 1971, p. 35.
  • Andreas Splanemann: How Greater Berlin came into being 70 years ago. (= Berliner Forum , Volume 3/90). Berlin 1990.
  • Stefan Krappweis: Development axis Berlin - Sperenberg. Regional settlement potential. Diploma thesis, Technical University of Berlin, Institute for Urban and Regional Planning, 1992.
  • Map The new Berlin districts and the history of Berlin's urban area . Edition Gauglitz, 2000.
  • Herbert Schwenk: It hung by a thread. Berlin becomes Greater Berlin . In: Berlin monthly magazine ( Luisenstädtischer Bildungsverein ) . Issue 6, 2000, ISSN  0944-5560 , p. 4 ( ).
  • Wolfgang Ribbe (Ed.): History of Berlin. 2 volumes (Berlin 1987). 3rd, expanded and updated edition, Berlin 2002 (publications by the Historical Commission in Berlin, standard work on the occasion of the 750th anniversary).
  • Harald Bodenschatz , Klaus Brake (ed.): 100 years of Greater Berlin. Housing issue and urban development . Lukas Verlag, Berlin 2017.
  • Markus Tubbesing: The Greater Berlin Competition 1910. The emergence of a modern discipline of urban planning . Verlag Ernst Wasmuth, Tübingen / Berlin 2017.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Suburbs of Berlin . In: Berliner Adreßbuch , 1913, part 5, suburbs (list of suburbs included).
  2. ^ Berlin urban development. In: Spiegel Online , August 16, 2017
  3. Schwenk 2000, p. 9
  4. Splanemann 1990, p. 9
  5. Koehn 1911, p. 1
  6. Schwenk 2000, p. 10
  7. Krappweis 1992, p. 23
  8. Reinhardt 1971
  9. Splanemann 1990, p. 11
  10. Elfi Bendikat: Public Transport Policy in Berlin and Paris 1890–1914 , Walter de Gruyter, 1999, ISBN 3-11-015383-1 , pp. 538–540 ( limited preview in the Google book search); Review: 100 Years of the General Urban Development Exhibition in Berlin . ( Memento from August 16, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) In: Bauwelt 36, September 24, 2010.
  11. Markus Tubbesing: The Greater Berlin Competition: The Search for Unity in Big City Chaos , in: Harald Bodenschatz (among others): Stadtvisionen 1910/2010 , Berlin 2010.
  12. ^ The Greater Berlin Competition in 1910 . In:, accessed on December 7, 2019.
  13. Ruth Glatzer (Ed.): Das Wilhelminische Berlin. Panorama of a metropolis. Berlin 1997, p. 57.
  14. Berlin's forgotten father. Retrieved January 22, 2019 .
  15. a b c The cities of Lichtenberg, Schöneberg and Wilmersdorf had already been renamed Berlin-Lichtenberg, Berlin-Schöneberg and Berlin-Wilmersdorf for the territorial reform in 1912.
  16. Big city, healthy country.
  17. Only Los Angeles was bigger.
  18. District administration (BV, BVfS)
  19. a b Gauglitz plan
  20. In the first Greater Berlin address book, for example, there are five Fritz-Reuter-Strasse, but also seven Friedenstrasse . In: Berliner Adreßbuch , 1922, IV., S. VI. recorded. 1) Friedrichshainer Friedenstrasse in the Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg district , 2) Mariendorfer Strasse in the Tempelhof-Schöneberg district , 3) Köpenicker and Adlershofer Friedenstrasse in the Treptow-Köpenick district , 4) Wannseer Friedenstrasse in the Steglitz-Zehlendorf district , 5) Mahlsdorfer Friedenstrasse in the Marzahn district . 6) Lankwitzer Friedensstraße was renamed in 1938. The name Kaiser-Wilhelm-Strasse came fourteen times with the suburbs . In: Berliner Adreßbuch , 1922, IV., S. VIII. Zu Groß-Berlin. Since then 13 have been renamed and there is only one Kaiser-Wilhelm-Straße in Lankwitz (Steglitz-Zehlendorf district).
  21. Berlin is preparing for its guests. The tasks of the Magistrate of Greater Berlin in the preparation of the III. World Festival. In: Neues Deutschland , July 7, 1951, p. 4
  22. Street search

Coordinates: 52 ° 31 '  N , 13 ° 24'  E