Oberbaum Bridge

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Coordinates: 52 ° 30 ′ 7 "  N , 13 ° 26 ′ 44"  E

Oberbaum Bridge
Oberbaum Bridge
use Road traffic , underground lines U1 and U3
Convicted At the Oberbaum
Crossing of Spree
place Berlin , districts Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg
construction seven-arched stone bridge
overall length 150.00 m
width 27.90 m, of which 22 m usable width (repair using a steel structure)
Longest span 22.00 m
Construction height 1.08 m
Clear height 4.5 m
vehicles per day approx. 60,000
building-costs approx. 2 million marks (1896);
approx. 70 million  DM for the basic repairs (1995)
start of building 1894, restored in 1992
completion 1895 (underground line 1902), reopened November 9, 1994; Elevated railway completion in April 1995
planner City Planning Inspector Pinkenburg and Architect Otto Stahn ; Completion of missing structural parts in 1992 by Santiago Calatrava
Oberbaum Bridge (Berlin)
Oberbaum Bridge

Bridge area 1490 m²

The Oberbaumbrücke in Berlin joins as part of the city ring the districts of Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain over the river Spree and is located between the Elsenbrücke and the Schilling Bridge . It is the landmark of the Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg district .

First wooden Spree crossings in the 18th century

Position in the urban environment around 1750 with an excise wall on the south-eastern edge of the Luisenstadt and Stralau districts (city model in the Märkisches Museum)

A first wooden bridge was located at the level of the former city wall, a few kilometers further downstream from today's bridge near the Spree island . The Spree was blocked off on both sides with the exception of a narrow passage in the middle with accessible wooden walkways in order to be able to collect customs duties. At night, the passage was closed with a thick trunk reinforced with iron nails, the so-called tree .

In addition to the lower tree in the west of the city, there was the upper tree in the east . With the relocation of the city limits and the construction of the Berlin customs wall , a new wooden bridge with flaps for shipping traffic was built a little further east in place of the upper tree by royal order. Here the Stralauer Tor stood as the entrance to Berlin.

A representative vault bridge is created

Construction of the bridge, 1895
View of the bridge with the directly adjoining Stralauer Tor underground station (later Osthafen )
Mitteltorturm in Prenzlau , model of the bridge towers

In 1893, the Siemens & Halske company received approval to build a railway bridge across the Spree at this point. At the same time, plans were drawn up to replace the old wooden road bridge. A “special urban bridge construction office” under the direction of the urban construction inspector Georg Pinkenburg created the plans for a bridge based on designs by the architect Otto Stahn , which should express the former gate function of the Oberbaum in regional historical form. Before both bridges were started, the responsible administrations agreed on the construction of a combined rail / road bridge on the basis of the existing architectural designs. Between 1894 and 1896 a neo-Gothic building was built, which replaced the wooden bridge and on the upper level leads the elevated railway tracks of the first Berlin underground line (today: line U1 ) over the Spree, which went into operation in 1902 . A protected pedestrian crossing in the manner of a medieval cloister is built under the railway viaduct . The engineers chose concrete as the building material for the bridge piers and vaults , and conventional masonry reinforced with steel inserts for all other components . The river was bridged in seven vaults , the opening widths of which were 7 12 , 16, 19, 22, 19, 16 and 7 12  meters.

The middle arch of the bridge is adorned by two 34 meter high towers , which with their cantilevered battlements are modeled on the central gate tower of the city wall in Prenzlau . They also symbolize the old function of the Oberbaum as a Berlin water gate . Their differently designed spiers bear the reliefs of the Berlin bear and the Brandenburg eagle . Other decorative details of the new bridge were the visible surfaces designed with metal flat reliefs , colorful glazed clinker bricks and mosaic stones , which, in addition to ornaments, also included the coats of arms of the Brandenburg cities of Küstrin , Stendal , Brandenburg an der Havel , Potsdam , Prenzlau, Frankfurt (Oder) , Salzwedel and Neuruppin showed.

Destruction and Post War History

Damaged Oberbaum Bridge, 1950
The Oberbaum Bridge in 1950, the Groebenufer in front ; this and the pillar supporting the subway tracks on the right were in the American sector
Oberbaumbrücke and a subway, 2014

In the Battle of Berlin on April 23, 1945, the day before the occupation of the right bank of the Spree by the Red Army , German troops demolished three-fifths of the central arch of the Oberbaum Bridge. The gate towers suffered severe damage. The fact that the entire bridge did not collapse as a result of the central arches being blown up was only due to the significantly oversized adjacent bridge piers, which, like an abutment , absorbed the shear forces of the neighboring arches. 15 pillars of the elevated railway viaduct and numerous decorative elements were also damaged by fire. Soon after the end of the war, the subway of the then line B ran continuously over the repaired bridge to the Warschauer Brücke station . The Osthafen high station , which was previously directly adjacent to the bridge structure on the Friedrichshain side , was demolished because of its severe damage.

Since the sector boundaries were drawn in Berlin, the bridge belonging to the Friedrichshain district connected the Soviet sector with the Kreuzberg district in the American sector. On October 31, 1948, the first fatal border incident occurred on the Oberbaum Bridge after the city was divided into East and West Berlin , in which East Berlin People's Police Officer Fritz Maque was killed. During the Berlin blockade , a strong smuggling operation had developed from East to West Berlin, where the smuggled goods could be sold for Westmark . During a police check on the bridge, Maque tried to stop a delivery van coming from Friedrichshain. The apparently surprised driver rammed Maque and drove into the American sector. Maque died of serious injuries on October 31. The investigators of the People's Police found neither a clue to the identity of the perpetrator nor to his motive for wanting to evade control. Nevertheless, the SED propaganda and the historical scholarship of the GDR made Maque's death “provocateurs recruited by secret services” or “anti-socialist organizations and groups” responsible. On February 17, 1949, an East Berlin policeman shot and killed the West Berlin car driver Helmut Ryll on the Oberbaum Bridge. This was on the way to Kreuzberg with a companion. During the check, two police officers who got into his vehicle asked him to drive back to East Berlin. Instead, Ryll, at the wheel, drove on towards the western sector. One of the police officers shot him dead. The driverless car crashed into a lantern in Falckensteinstrasse . Although the West Berlin police were able to arrest one of the East Policemen , the case remained unsolved.

The East Berlin authorities later closed the Oberbaum Bridge to motor vehicle and tram traffic. In December 1955 they erected a site fence , which also made it impossible for motorcyclists and cyclists to use them. However, up to the day the Wall was built on August 13, 1961, there was a lot of pedestrian traffic from visitors and " cross-border commuters " across the bridge. Numerous exchange offices had established themselves on the Kreuzberg side, exchanging DM East for DM West . Small traders often offered visitors from East Berlin newspapers, tropical fruits, chewing gum, nylon articles and other goods for East money in a ratio of 1: 1.

With the construction of the Berlin Wall on August 13, 1961, the Oberbaum Bridge was closed to all traffic, including the subway. In individual cases it was used to allow political prisoners who had been freed from the GDR to leave the GDR. In December 1963, the first  permit agreement opened it to West Berlin pedestrians for 14 days. Three short openings of the same type followed by the summer of 1966. From 1972 onwards, the Four Power Agreement on Berlin resulted in a permanent opening for pedestrians . A building for the East Berlin control organs was built right across the street on the east bank of the Spree, next to the Oberbaum Bridge. The part of the underground viaduct crossing Stralauer Allee at the bridge was completely demolished. The towers were demolished in the 1970s.

Since the border ran on the Kreuzberger Ufer ( Gröbenufer ) of the Spree, several Kreuzberg children drowned at the Oberbaumbrücke until the agreement on rescue measures in the case of accidents in the Berlin border waters was signed on October 29, 1975 because they could not be helped from the west side and this did not happen from the east side. In 1976, an emergency telephone was installed at the southern bridgehead , after which it was possible to help drowning people.

The Oberbaum Bridge, which has been part of the Friedrichshain coat of arms since 1991, was also included in the coat of arms of the new Berlin district of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg after the district merger .


Temporary bridging of the fairway, 1993
Arcade on the east side
New middle section designed by Santiago Calatrava

After German reunification , the bridge was comprehensively repaired for a total of 70 million marks . There was an international architectural competition to repair the destroyed central section , which Santiago Calatrava won. After lengthy negotiations between the architect, monument conservationists and representatives of the shipping authorities and the building authorities of the two districts at the time, Calatrava's plans were revised several times. The compromise was implemented by 1995, the bridge was given a new central section. Since 1995 the Oberbaumbrücke has been used again for the underground and for road traffic. Urban planning in the 1990s and demands from environmental associations led to the laying of tram tracks in the pavement. When the Oberbaum Bridge was put back into operation, there were demonstrations for the tram and against the opening for car traffic. Official plans for the realization of a tram line have existed again since 2016, when the red-red-green Berlin state government added a new line to Hermannplatz in its program to expand the tram network. Associations and students also dealt with this topic.

The Berlin traffic administration had the roadway on the bridge completely renewed between May 2019 and November 2019, after years of heavy traffic. For this purpose, one lane in each direction was initially completely closed from May 27th. In the direction of Kreuzberg, cyclists had to share the remaining lane with motor vehicles, in the direction of Friedrichshain a cycle lane was led under the arcades parallel to the sidewalk. During this work, the tram tracks that had never been used before were expanded. This was followed by a new division of the traffic area, which was originally six meters wide in each direction of travel to 4.45 meters each. According to the regulations of the Senate Department for the Environment, Transport and Climate Protection , the cycle paths on both sides should be two meters wide. The following table shows the planning specifications from 2017 (all information in meters):

side walk Cycle lanes Security strip roadway Dividing strip roadway Security strip Cycle lanes side walk
2.00 0.80 4.45 0.47 4.45 0.80 2.00

Bicycle traffic

New division of the wheel tracks 2019

In 2015, one of 17 permanently installed automatic wheel counting stations in Berlin was built into the road surface of the Oberbaum Bridge. Of all the places with a counting point, the Oberbaumbrücke is the most frequented place for cycling. The counting point was removed for the lane renovation in 2019 (see above). However, the Senate Department for the Environment, Transport and Climate Protection announced that, after possible adjustments to the lane, it would again install a counting point at another point on the bridge, this time with a display, probably in 2020.

The cycle path in the direction of Friedrichshain was initially 1.35 meters wide and 1.60 meters in the direction of Kreuzberg. As shown above, the cycle lanes should be widened to two meters on both sides and provided with an additional safety strip 80 centimeters wide in the form of a double line.

The western side of the bridge was closed for the five-month renovation period and one car lane was set up in each direction at reduced speed. Bicycle traffic, initially routed in the same lane as motorized traffic, was soon judged by the police and traffic management as too narrow and dangerous; cyclists should get off and use the footpath. After criticism from, among others, Changing Cities , the association behind the initiative for a bicycle referendum , and the ADFC Berlin, as well as a protest with a road blockade, the district (District Mayor Monika Herrmann ) and the Senate (Transport Senator Regine Günther ) changed the construction site tour, according to which bicycle traffic on both sides Footpaths have been assigned. Instead, the footpath on the west side was completely removed and on the east side it was separated from foot traffic. This was again made by Fuß e. V., an association for foot traffic, criticized.

After the completion of the bridge conversion it turned out that the new construction of the cycle lanes had only been carried out with a maximum width of 1.85 m and were therefore too narrow for safe overtaking; they were also not structurally separated from car traffic. This was a violation of the Mobility Act and led to extensive protests and contradictions. In October 2019, the traffic administration announced that it would adjust the width again and examine protection elements that could be brought into line with the listed bridge. Another renovation was decided.

Cultural at the Oberbaumbrücke

In 1996 the Senate Department for Building, Housing and Transport organized an artistic competition to mark the seven inner-city border crossings. Thorsten Goldberg from Berlin won the competition for the former border crossing at Oberbaumbrücke with his design of the well-known children's hand game scissors, stones, and paper . For this purpose, two fluorescent tubes , each one meter in size, visible to the right and left of the middle section, were attached. The luminous outlines of the three hand positions of scissors, stone and paper change randomly every six seconds and are clearly visible from both the waterfront and the road. This game of chance is supposed to show the previous political situation, according to which decisions were made by chance and arbitrary.

Since 1998, the Oberbaumbrücke has traditionally been the scene of the “ vegetable battle ” between Friedrichshainers and Kreuzbergers, in which the two districts that have now merged are fought like a folk festival.

The district committee Kreuzberg e. V. has been organizing the Open Air Gallery every year in early summer since 2003 . On these open art Sundays, up to 30,000 visitors come to the bridge, which is closed to traffic for this purpose.

The mural that one approaches when leaving the bridge in the direction of Kreuzberg is a work by the Italian street artist Blu from 2007. The large, unmistakable mural shows a pink giant and is mostly allegory to the mythological Leviathan figure as Leviathan , sometimes referred to as Pink Man or, after the festival at which it was created, as Blus Backjump Mural .

In the internationally known film Lola Run by director Tom Tykwer , the protagonist runs under the railway viaduct along the pedestrian path.

See also

Other bridges with an underground viaduct above street level are the Pont de Bercy and the Pont de Bir-Hakeim in Paris .


  • Annegret Burg (arrangement): Oberbaumbrücke. Reopening on the occasion of the 5th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall . In: Senate Department for Building and Housing (Ed.): Seven bridges in downtown Berlin. Examples of construction and design. , Berlin 1994.
  • Monika Ost, Wolfgang Kramer, Maria Deiters, Rudolf Eisenbach: The Oberbaumbrücke - restoration of a monument . Senator for Building and Housing, Berlin 1995 (=  Berlin builds. Vol. 18.)
  • Karl Bernhard: About the construction of the Oberbaum Bridge . In: Zentralblatt der Bauverwaltung , Volume 15 (1895), pp. 527-528, digitized opus.kobv.de.
  • Marina Heimann: The Oberbaum Bridge. Through the ages . Pro Business Verlag, Berlin 2007, ISBN 978-3-939430-91-9 .
  • Barbara Hölkemann: A unit of contradicting regulations. The Oberbaum Bridge in Berlin. Deutscher Wissenschaftsverlag, Baden-Baden 2006, ISBN 3-935176-61-9 .
  • Ingrid Nowel: Berlin. The new capital. Architecture and art, history and literature. Verlag Dumont, 2007, ISBN 3-7701-5577-7 , pp. 337–338 ( Around the Oberbaum Bridge ).
  • Eckhard Thiemann, Dieter Deszyk, Horstpeter Metzing: Berlin and its bridges . Jaron Verlag, Berlin 2003, ISBN 3-89773-073-1 , pp. 34-37.

Web links

Commons : Oberbaumbrücke (Berlin)  - Collection of images

Individual evidence

  1. Work on the Oberbaum Bridge is heating up tempers ( Memento from April 1, 2014 in the Internet Archive )
  2. On the course of the front, see Dieter Gaedke (edit.): The fighting in Berlin . In Gerd Heinrich (ed.): Historical hand atlas of Brandenburg and Berlin. The military collapse in 1945. de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 1973, ISBN 3-11-004337-8 . The Red Army had already crossed the Spree on April 25 and formed bridgeheads at the Schilling and Oberbaum bridges .
  3. On the damage see Hölkemann (Lit.), p. 96 f.
  4. ^ The Oberbaumbrücke - restoration of a monument (= Berlin builds. Vol. 18.) Ed .: Senate Department for Building and Housing, Berlin 1995, p. 21.
  5. Ulrich Lemke, Uwe Poppel: The Berlin U-Bahn , p. 58
  6. Michael Stricker: Last use. Police officers killed on duty in Berlin from 1918 to 2010 , Verlag für Polizeiwissenschaft, Frankfurt 2010, ISBN 3-86676-141-4 , (= series of publications by the German Society for Police History, Vol. 11), pp. 200–202
  7. Gerhard Sälter, Johanna Dietrich, Fabian Kuhn: The forgotten dead. Fatalities of the GDR border regime in Berlin from division to the building of the Wall (1948–1961) . Ch.links, Berlin 2016, ISBN 978-3-86153-933-9 , p. 101 f.
  8. Hans J. Reichardt [u. a.]: Berlin. Chronicle of the years 1955–1956. Published on behalf of the Berlin Senate. Heinz Spitzing, Berlin 1971, p. 368
  9. Elke-Ursel Hammer: “Special Efforts” by the Federal Government . Volume 1: 1962 to 1969 . Oldenbourg, Munich 2012, ISBN 3-486-70719-1 , p. 28, accessed on June 9, 2013
  10. ^ Maria Curter: Always limit - The Oberbaumbrücke . In: Berlin monthly magazine ( Luisenstädtischer Bildungsverein ) . Issue 11, 1999, ISSN  0944-5560 , p. 65-69 ( luise-berlin.de ).
  11. Cetin Mert. In: chronik-der-mauer.de. Retrieved March 21, 2016 .
  12. Severin Weiland: The building administration will soon decide whether Calatrava's design can be used for the Oberbaum Bridge. In: taz , September 30, 1992.
  13. Reference list ( Memento from August 31, 2004 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF) IB Jagels, accessed May 11, 2009.
  14. ↑ The tram should go over the Oberbaumbrücke . In: Berliner Zeitung , November 15, 1994.
  15. Koaliationsvertrag Berlin 2016. Accessed March 29, 2017 .
  16. ^ Proposal for the tram over the Oberbaumbrücke from the editors of the specialist journal Signal . Retrieved April 2, 2009.
  17. ^ Thomas Billik: Page no longer available , search in web archives: Diploma thesis at the TFH Berlin with concrete proposals for a tram extension from Friedrichshain to Hermannplatz ; Retrieved April 2, 2009.@1@ 2Template: Toter Link / public.tfh-berlin.de
  18. Oberbaumbrücke is partially closed . In: Berliner Zeitung , 25./26. May 2019, p. 4.
  19. News in brief - tram . In: Berliner Verkehrsblätter . No. 7 , 2019, pp. 143 .
  20. a b Oberbaumbrücke has wide, safe bike paths. October 17, 2019, accessed October 17, 2019 .
  21. Traffic survey bike counter for Berlin: How many cyclists are there? Retrieved February 5, 2019 .
  22. The wheel measuring point had to be expanded for the road renovation. The counting station is being renewed. In: @SenUVKBerlin. Senate Department for the Environment, Transport & Climate Protection, October 30, 2019, accessed on October 30, 2019 .
  23. The counting point cannot be set up in exactly the same place. At the same time, you may have to wait for any adjustments. In future, the counting point will have a display. We anticipate expansion in 2020. A specific date would now be too early. In: @SenUVKBerlin. Senate Department for the Environment, Transport & Climate Protection, October 30, 2019, accessed on October 30, 2019 .
  24. Cyclists demo on Oberbaumbrücke - Senator agrees to help. Retrieved October 23, 2019 .
  25. Oberbaumbrücke: New solution for bicycle and pedestrian traffic. May 28, 2019, accessed October 23, 2019 .
  26. Pedestrian lobby criticizes diversion to "Ekelweg". Retrieved October 23, 2019 .
  27. New cycle path at the Oberbaumbrücke causes trouble. Retrieved October 23, 2019 .
  28. Oberbaumbrücke is being rebuilt again. Retrieved October 29, 2019 .
  29. Wider bike paths on the Oberbaum Bridge. RTL Television , March 9, 2020, accessed on March 11, 2020 .
  30. ↑ Rock - paper - scissors . Homepage of Thorsten Goldberg with information and images about the project; Retrieved July 18, 2014
  31. Oberbaumbrücke Open Air Gallery at yelp , accessed on May 31, 2014