(above: BVG Strike in 1932, photo attribution: Bundesarchiv, Bild 102-13992 / CC-BY-SA)
Throughout 2013 there are a series of exhibitions and events taking place around Berlin under the banner “Diversity Destroyed”, exploring the impact of the Nazi’s rise to power and subsequent dictatorship, which would last from 1933 until the German capitulation at the end of the Second World War.
Many of our guests will have passed one of the exhibitions, which can be seen for free on the mezzanine level of the Alexanderplatz underground station… and if you have not seen it, it is just a short U-Bahn ride south from Rosenthaler Platz. The exhibition “From Red to Brown: the BVG after 1933” tells the story of the Berlin transport company, which runs the U-Bahn/Bus/Tram network to this day, from its inauguration in the 1920s through to its increasingly political role at the beginning of the 1930s, through the influence of trades union within the municipal company, through to strike actions that paralyzed public transport in the city in 1932.
A few months later and Hitler came to power, and the first wave of political “purges” within the transport company began, with over 2,000 employees (around 10% of the workforce) dismissed on political grounds. The exhibitions tells some of their stories, as well as the increased “Nazification” of municipal companies like the BVG and trades union, through to the use of BVG stations, vehicles and buildings as platforms for Nazi propaganda and the use of forced labour in the period after 1941.
Altogether it is a fascinating example of how National Socialism embedded itself in all aspects of life in Germany during though twelve dark years, and how even the buses and the underground trains could be used as literal vehicles for the Nazis to purge influential political opponents, enact anti-Semitic policies, spread propaganda, and as vital tools in the war effort that would lead to such devastation and destruction.
The exhibition at Alexanderplatz station is completely free, and is running until the 31st December.