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Berlin State Library: Wikis


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The Berlin State Library (German: Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin) is a library in Berlin, Germany and a property of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation.



Former premise Old Library on Bebelplatz (nicknamed Kommode)

The State Library runs several premises, three of which are open for users, namely House 1 in Unter den Linden 8, House 2 in Potsdamer Straße 33 and the newspaper archive in a former warehouse in the Westhafen harbour of Berlin.

  • House 1, then known as the Prussian Royal Library (German: Preußische Königliche Bibliothek), was built between 1908 and 1913 by the Prussian Construction and Financial Direction of Berlin, then responsible for public constructions in that city. The building is known for its Neo Baroque architecture, following a design of the popular Wilhelmine architect Ernst Eberhard von Ihne, adapted by Alexander Baerwald, who was in charge of the construction management. After the division of Berlin, it turned out to be in East Berlin.
  • House 2 was the new building designed by Hans Scharoun in the Kulturforum on Potsdamer Straße in West Berlin, built between 1967 and 1978 for those parts of the library's evacuated holdings which happened to be in one of the western occupation zones by the end of World War II.
  • The old Royal Library building, nicknamed for its design Kommode (dresser or commode), is located at the Bebelplatz. It was built by Georg Christian Unger after a design by Joseph Emanuel Fischer von Erlach between 1775 and 1780. It housed the library until 1914 when it moved to House 1. Now it houses the Faculty of Law of the Humboldt University.


Berlin State Library - House 1 (Unter den Linden)
Berlin State Library - House 1 (Unter den Linden) - inner courtyard
Berlin State Library - House 2 (Potsdamer Straße)

The Berlin State Library was founded in 1661 by Frederick William of Brandenburg as "Churfürstliche Bibliothek" at Cölln an der Spree. In 1701, the library was renamed "Royal Library at Berlin" and kept this name until the end of monarchy in Germany in 1918, then renamed to "Prussian State Library".

On May 10, 1933 a book burning ceremony was held by members of the Deutsche Studentenschaft (a rightist student association), also attended by S.A. ("brownshirts") and Nazi youth groups, at Bebelplatz on the instigation of the Propaganda Minister, Joseph Goebbels. The Nazis burned around 20,000 books, most of which were taken from the library, including works by Thomas Mann, Erich Maria Remarque, Heinrich Heine, Karl Marx and many other authors. Today a glass plate set into the Bebelplatz, giving a view of empty bookcases, commemorates this event.

During World War II most of the holdings (at the time some three million books and other materials) were hidden to safety in 30 monasteries, castles and abandoned mines. A part of its collections were returned to the original Berlin site at Unter den Linden (East Berlin) after 1945, and some relocated items, which happened to be stored in the now western occupation zones by the end of the war, were gathered in Marburg upon Lahn and later opened to the public as Hessian and then West German Library (Hessische resp. Westdeutsche Bibliothek). These holdings were relocated to West Berlin at the late 1970s in the new building now called House 2.

Many items of the collection are located in Poland and the territories of the former Soviet Union, such as the Berlinka collection, which were declared to be war reparations by the Polish state.

From 1992 on, the reunited Berlin State Library – Prussian Cultural Heritage provides a service at both its sites in the district of Mitte – Unter den Linden 8 and Potsdamer Straße 33.


  • 10 million books
  • 4,400 incunabula
  • 18,300 occidental manuscripts
  • 40,000 oriental manuscripts
  • 250,000 autographs
  • 66,350 music autographs
  • 1,400 personal archives
  • 450,000 editions of sheet music
  • 960,000 maps and atlases
  • 38,000 subscription periodicals and monographic series
  • 180,000 early newspaper volumes and 400 subscription newspapers
  • Diverse electronic databases
  • 2.3 million microfiches and microfilms
  • 13.5 million images in the picture archive

The Berlin State Library, along with two other German institutions, the Beethoven-Haus and the Deutsches Rundfunkarchiv, also holds the autograph score, autograph leaves, and historic records for Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony no 9, d minor, op. 125, which was inscribed on UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register in 2001. [1]

In film

The western library played a starring role in Wim Wenders' Wings of Desire. Two angels, the stars of the film, read the thoughts of the library's patrons.

See also

External links


Coordinates: 52°30′23″N 13°22′13″E / 52.50639°N 13.37028°E / 52.50639; 13.37028



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