Reichsadler. The word (unfairly) conjures up images of a Nazi Eagle and the Third Reich. Yet the Eagle as a symbol of Power has existed in the Germanic Realm for centuries. The Reichsadler (the Imperial Eagle) made its first Heraldic Appearance on the Banner of the Holy Roman Empire under Karl dem Großen aka Charlemagne. From that point on his various successors – as well as the Imperial Cities attributed their flags with the Reichsadler.
The privilege to use the Reichsadler wasn’t solely bestowed on the Reichsstädte (the Imperial Cities). The Teutonic Order – granted by Emperor Frederick II. – was allowed the privilege of using the Reichsadler in their Coat of Arms. When the Teutonic Order was transformed into the Duchy of Prussia in 1525, it took over its Heraldic symbols.
The German Reichsadler survived throughout the turbulent years of the Holy Roman Empire (of Germanic Nations) until it was dissolved in 1806. The empire didnt survive Napoleons victory, but the Reichsadler did. It wasnt until 1848 when the German States revolted and were seeking national unity, that the Imperial Eagle became a prominent symbol again.
20 years later, thanks to Bismarcks “Kleindeutsch Lösung” (unifying the Kingdom of Prussia with the Nother German States) the Prussian Reichsadler became the Heraldic Symbol of the German Empire in 1871. After facing defeat in WWI and mounting social and political pressure, the German Emperor abdicated in 1918 and the Empire transformed into the Weimar Republic (yet still officially being called Deutsches Reich).
To reflect this Political Shift, the Flag and Coat of arms were changed, adopting the German tricolor which had been created by the Frankfurt Constitution in 1849. Picking up where the Frankfurt Constitution left off, Emil Doepler designed a new German Crest creating a modernised Reichsadler (cutting off one of the two heads) and changing the colors to match German Tricolor. Freidrich Ebert, President of the German Reich declared the design to be the Official Coat of Arms on the 12th of November 1919.
In 1926, a new Coat of Arms was created by the graphic designer Karl-Tobias Schwab. This Reichswappen replaced the previous version by Doepler in 1928. If you’re beginning to think – “wow, that looks a lot like todays Bundesadler!” – you’re right, because it is! Doepler’s design became the Reichsschild which was used from then on as the pennant for government vehicles.
After the Nazis were elected into power in 1933, the Prussian Reichsadler received the Swastika as an addendum. The Nazi Party had their own version of the Reichsadler, the “Parteiadler”, which was more prominently displayed throughout the years. In 1935, one year after Adolf Hitlers coronation as Führer – the Nazi Party declared the stylised version of the Parteiadler as the new Reichsadler.
In the beginning, there wasnt a unified or regulated style for the Reichsadler. Dozens of different versions, even within the same Departments and Ministries appeared. To ensure the full control of its symbols, the NSDAP enacted the “gleichschaltung der symbole” in 1936. This officially regulated how the Reichsadler appeared, and anyone who wished to use the Eagle with the Swastika now had to apply for permission. This mean that:
All Eagles affiliated with the State look towards the Left
The Parteiadler – the Party Eagle looks to the Right
The notable exception to the rule was the Wehrmacht. All Eagles of the Wehrmacht, “out of solidarity to the NSDAP” were allowed to keep facing Right, though with the stipulation that the eagle had to be perched on a wreath and its wings spread. Or so the myth goes.
The most popular myth as to why the “Parteiadler” faces to the Right – is because it apparently represents the “back” of the Reichsadler, cementing the hegemony of Party and State. Despite the “gleichschaltung der symbole” in 1936, various styles of the Eagle kept on appearing until 1944.
With the collapse of yet another German Reich, all (affiliated) symbols of the Nazi Party and Third Reich were declared illegal. With the creation of (West) Germany, the German state adopted the Flag used during the Weimar Republic. In 1950, President Theodor Heuss officially reinstated the Weimarer Reichsadler, now titled Bundesadler, to create an ideological connection to the values of the Weimar Republic – and to prevent East Germany from laying any claim to it. Along with the Flag, the Eagle designed by Schwab and the eagle designed by Doepel was carried over to the newly founded Bundesrepublik.
Wandering through Berlin, you are constantly reminded of its history. Regardless if you stroll through the Royal Charlottenburg, the Industrial Reinickendorf, or the Hipster Mitte, if you pay close enough attention you will always find a trace of Germanys Imperial Past. Reichsadler can be found everywhere, but most of them date back to the 19th Century.
By off-chance I wandered past the Finanzamt (Tax Office) in Charlottenburg and had to do a double take. Right above the door was a massive Reichsadler. One from the Third Reich. The Swastika had been removed and subtly replaced with a house number. Practical Germans.
This peaked my interest, I was curious to see how many “Nazi Eagles” were left in Berlin. After scouring the city for several weeks I’ve compiled a (what I believe to be far from complete) list of the remaining Reichsadler of the Third Reich in Berlin. It is very interesting to note that all the Eagles I’ve discovered so far have been located in what was once West-Berlin. Seems like the Western Allies had less of a problem with the rather obvious remnants of the Third Reich. Check out the Map at the bottom of the Article to see where they are located.
For a few more detailed Photos of the remaining Nazi Eagles in Berlin, check out the corresponding Flickr Album -> The Nazi Eagles of Berlin
If an address is not given for an Eagle, it is done so on purpose (though this only applies to 3 eagles). If you do have a question regarding one of the publicly listed locations ask away. If you know of an Eagle that I’ve missed out on, feel free to leave a comment so I can continue to complete the list. It goes without saying that my interest for the Eagles is purely out of historical interest. 3 Eagles have been removed from the list as they pre-dated the 1933 cut off date.
 A Reichsadler on a Memorial Plaque in the Langemarckhalle at the Olympic Stadium
Address: Am Glockenturm 1, 14053 Berlin
[1938/39] Reichsadler on a decorative vase at the Siegessäule,
Address: Großer Stern 10557 Berlin
 A Pair of Reichsadler on the Tomb of Colonel General Hans von Seeckt
Address: Scharnhorststraße 12307, Mitte
[1938/39] Reichsadler above the Dreilinden School
Address: Dreilindenstraße 49 14109, Wannsee
[1934/35] Reichsadler on the spire of the Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-Kirche
Address: Onkel-Tom-Straße 80 14169, Zehlendorf
[1936/39] Reichsadler above the Finanzamt Charlottenburg
Address: Bismarckstr. 48, 10627 Charlottenburg
 Reichsadler above the Amtsgericht Wedding
Brunnenplatz 1, 13357 Wedding
 Wehrmachstadler above the former Beseler Kaserne
Address: Borchertweg 2, 13585 Spandau
[Unconfirmed Date] Reichsalder above a S-Bahn Building
Address: Machnower Str. 2, 14165 Zehlendorf
[1939/40] Reichsadler above a former NAPOLA (now a police station).
Address: Hohenzollernring 125, 13585 Spandau
[1935/36] Wehrmachtsadler at a former Military Barracks
[1941/42] Reichsadler above the door of Germanys first TV Studio.
Rognitzstraße 8, 14057 Westend
[1936/41] The 6 Reichsadler of the Former Tempelhof Airport Complex.
Platz der Luftbrücke 5, 12101 Tempelhof
[1936/41] Head of the Reichsadler which sat atop the main Tempelhof Airport Complex.
Platz der Luftbrücke 5, 12101 Tempelhof
[1935/36] Wehrmachtsadler at a former Military Barracks.
 Reichsadler atop the Siemens WWI Memorial.
Address: Nonnendammallee 101, 13629 Siemensstadt
 Denkmal der Nationalen Erhebung (Monument for the National Uprising).
Address: Lüdenscheiderweg 2, 13599 Siemensstadt
 2 Reichsadler in front of the “Haus des Deutschen Sports” on the Olympic Grounds
Address: Hanns-Braun-Straße / Adlerplatz, 14053 Westend
 Reichsadler on the Olympic Grounds.
Address: Friedrich-Friesen-Allee, 14053 Westend
 Reichsadler on the Olympic Bell.
Address: Olympischer Platz 3, 14053 Westend
 Reichsadler on a factory.
 Reichsadler above a Post Office.
Address: Knesebeckstraße 95, 10623 Charlottenburg
[1935/38] Reichsadler / Adler der Luftwaffe at the former Luftgaukommando Luftgau III. Now Luxury Apartments
Address: Clayallee 172, 14195 Dahlem
[1935/38] Reichsadler / Adler der Luftwaffe at the former Luftgaukommando Luftgau III. Now the US Embassy in Berlin.
Address: Clayallee 172, 14195 Dahlem
[1940/42] Reichsadler above a Harbour Depot (Westhafen).
Address: Nordufer 28, 13353 Moabit
[1938/40] Reichsadler above the former Reichsministerium für Bewaffnung und Munition (Armaments Ministry). Today Bundesagentur für Arbeit (Unemployment Office).
Address: Friedrichstraße 34, 10969 Mitte
 Wehrmachtsadler above the entrance of Fort Hanneberg.
Address: Ernst-Bruch-Zeile 39, 13591 Spandau
 Wehrmachtsadler in a Church Mural. Martin-Luther-Gedächtniskirche
Address: Riegerzeile 1, 12105 Mariendorf
 Wehrmachtsadler above the entrance of the former Hindenburg-Kaserne
Address: Schmiedegasse 9, 14469 Potsdam
 A Reichsadler and Swastika mosaic at the former Kaserne Krampnitz
Address: Potsdamer Chaussee, 14476 Potsdam
A full post about the history of the Kaserne Krampnitz can be found here: Kaserne Krampnitz