Destination station

Schlesisches Tor U-bahn station, Berlin

The Schlesisches Tor station on Berlin’s U1 elevated railway is spectacular – much more than a place to catch a train.

It formed part of Berlin’s first overground electric rail service, built to the designs of the architects Hans Grisebach (1848-1904) and Georg Dinklage (1849-1926) by the construction company Siemens & Halske, pioneers of electric traction.  Heinrich Giesecke (1862-1937) was responsible for the architectural decoration which included elaborately carved stonework, wrought-ironwork and an onion-dome turret.

Its opulent historicist style gave it prestige, and the street-level facilities were generous – several shops, including a pastry shop, and a restaurant named Torkrug.

Named after a former entrance to the city, the Silesian Gate, it was opened in 1902.

It suffered a direct hit in an Allied air raid on March 11th-12th 1945, but services continued until the power supply failed, putting the entire network out of action on April 22nd.

For a time after the end of the War Schlesisches Tor became a terminus until the through service was restored in April 1947.  It was interrupted again, briefly during an uprising in 1953, and ultimately when the Berlin Wall divided the city in 1961.  The through service was eventually reopened in 1995.

Even before reunification the station was recognised as a historic monument.  The former restaurant was occupied by a retail store, the Kaufhaus am Tor (commonly shortened to Kato).  The name Kato was perpetuated by a club which took over the space after 1981.  From 2012 Kato was succeeded by a night-club, Bi Nuu.

The station was listed in 1980 and renovated for the International Building Exhibition in 1984 and the 750th anniversary of the city of Berlin in 1987.

A commemorative plaque honours Alfred Flatow (1869-1942), a Jewish gymnast who won three gold and one silver medals in the 1896 Olympic Games.  He and his colleagues were suspended by the national gymnastics governing body Deutsche Turnerschaft which regarded the Games as “unGerman”.  Alfred and his cousin Gustav (1875-1945), who himself won two gold medals in 1896, were among the founders of the Judische Turnerschaft in 1903.  Both perished in the Holocaust – Alfred at the Theresienstadt Concentration Camp and Gustav in the Theresienstadt Ghetto.

Both cousins are commemorated in the naming of the Flatow-Sporthalle nearby, the renaming of the Reichssportsfeld Strasse [street of the National Sports Complex] as Flatowallee [Flatow Boulevard].  They are also illustrated on one of a set of four stamps issued by Deutsche Post to celebrate the centenary of the 1896 Olympic Games.

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