The Altes Museum sits on Berlin’s Museum Island. As the name suggests it is an island on the Spree River which is home to some of Berlin’s, if not the world’s, most impressive museums. The Altes Museum, altes being a German word for old, and Museum Island were built in the 1800s by renown German architect and city planner Karl Friedrich Schinkel (1781-1841). Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Altes Museum is home to Germany’s collection of Classical antiquities. However, in 1939 as Germany celebrated the 50th birthday of Fuhrer Adolph Hitler in Berlin, the Altes Museum became the location for a parade down Unter den Linden followed by a speech given by Hitler representing the climax of the celebrations. Some footage for the event still exists.
Despite getting off to to a good start, by 1945, the Soviet red Army was knocking on Germany’s door and by April, the Russians were in Berlin. The city became a battlefield. During the Battle of Berlin, all of Berlin’s historic sites were fortified. Old stone buildings like the Altes Museum, with their thick stone walls, cavernous basements and small windows became mini fortresses defended until the last man.