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.

deutscher reichsadler 900 -1525
From left to right: Coat of arms of the Staufen Holy Roman Emperors (1155) (Copyright / Drawing created by David Liuzzo) Flag of the Teutonic Order (13th Century) (Image by Piom / CC BY-SA 2.5), Flag of the Duchy of Prussia (1466) (Image by Guilherme Paula /CC BY-SA 3.0

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.

deutscher reichsadler 1888 -1935
From left to right: Reichsadler of the German Empire (1888) (Copyright / Drawing created by David Liuzzo), Reichsadler of the Weimar Republic (1919) (Image by David Liuzzo / CC BY-SA 2.5), Coat of arms of the Weimar Republic (1926) by Karl-Tobias Schwab

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.

Partei und Reichsadler des Nationalsozialismus
Reich and Party insignia of Nazi Germany (1936) (Image created by NsMn)

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.

deutscher bundesadler 1950
The Bundesadler by Karl-Tobias Schwab (1950), Bundesschild der Bundesrepublik Deutschland (1950) (Image by David Liuzzo), Bundesadler (2006)

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

Disclaimer:

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.

[1936] A Reichsadler on a Memorial Plaque in the Langemarckhalle at the Olympic Stadium
Address: Am Glockenturm 1, 14053 Berlin

reichsadler langemarckhalle berlin olympia stadion

[1938/39] Reichsadler on a decorative vase at the Siegessäule,
Address: Großer Stern 10557 Berlin

reichsadler berlin vase siegessaeule

[1936] A Pair of Reichsadler on the Tomb of Colonel General Hans von Seeckt
Address: Scharnhorststraße 12307, Mitte

reichsadler invalidenfriedhof berlin

[1938/39] Reichsadler above the Dreilinden School
Address: Dreilindenstraße 49 14109, Wannsee

reichsadler dreilinden schule berlin wannsee

[1934/35] Reichsadler on the spire of the Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-Kirche
Address: Onkel-Tom-Straße 80 14169, Zehlendorf

reichsadler ernst moritz arndt kirche berlin

[1936/39] Reichsadler above the Finanzamt Charlottenburg
Address: Bismarckstr. 48, 10627 Charlottenburg

reichsadler finanzamt charlottenburg berlin

[1933] Reichsadler above the Amtsgericht Wedding
Brunnenplatz 1, 13357 Wedding

reichsadler amtsgericht wedding berlin

[1936] Wehrmachstadler above the former Beseler Kaserne
Address: Borchertweg 2, 13585 Spandau

nazi wehrmachtsadler schule berlin

[Unconfirmed Date] Reichsalder above a S-Bahn Building
Address: Machnower Str. 2, 14165 Zehlendorf

wehrmachtsadler reichsbahnadler sbahn station berlin

[1939/40] Reichsadler above a former NAPOLA (now a police station).
Address: Hohenzollernring 125, 13585 Spandau

nazi reichsadler napola polizei spandau berlin

[1935/36] Wehrmachtsadler at a former Military Barracks
Address: N/A

wehrmachtsadler kaserne berlin

[1941/42] Reichsadler above the door of Germanys first TV Studio.
Rognitzstraße 8, 14057 Westend

reichsadler fernsehstudio berlin westend

[1936/41] The 6 Reichsadler of the Former Tempelhof Airport Complex.
Platz der Luftbrücke 5, 12101 Tempelhof

nazi reichsadler berlin tempelhof

[1936/41] Head of the Reichsadler which sat atop the main Tempelhof Airport Complex.
Platz der Luftbrücke 5, 12101 Tempelhof

nazi reichsadler kopf berlin tempelhof

[1935/36] Wehrmachtsadler at a former Military Barracks.
Address: N/A

wehrmachtsadler kaserne eingang berlin

[1934] Reichsadler atop the Siemens WWI Memorial.
Address: Nonnendammallee 101, 13629 Siemensstadt

reichsadler siemens weltkriegs denkmal berlin

[1935] Denkmal der Nationalen Erhebung (Monument for the National Uprising).
Address: Lüdenscheiderweg 2, 13599 Siemensstadt

denkmal der nationalen erhebung berlin reichsadler

[1936] 2 Reichsadler in front of the “Haus des Deutschen Sports” on the Olympic Grounds
Address: Hanns-Braun-Straße / Adlerplatz, 14053 Westend

reichsadler haus des deutschen sports olympia berlin

[1936] Reichsadler on the Olympic Grounds.
Address: Friedrich-Friesen-Allee, 14053 Westend

nazi reichsadler berlin olympia gelaende berlin

[1935] Reichsadler on the Olympic Bell.
Address: Olympischer Platz 3, 14053 Westend

nazi reichsadler berlin olympia glocke

[1938] Reichsadler on a factory.
Address: N/A

reichsadler industriegelaende berlin

[1939] Reichsadler above a Post Office.
Address: Knesebeckstraße 95, 10623 Charlottenburg

deutsche post reichsadler berlin

[1935/38] Reichsadler / Adler der Luftwaffe at the former Luftgaukommando Luftgau III. Now Luxury Apartments
Address: Clayallee 172, 14195 Dahlem

luftgaukommando luftwaffe adler reichsadler berlin nazi dahlem

[1935/38] Reichsadler / Adler der Luftwaffe at the former Luftgaukommando Luftgau III. Now the US Embassy in Berlin.
Address: Clayallee 172, 14195 Dahlem

luftgaukommando berlin reichsadler luftwaffe adler reichsadler dahlem

[1940/42] Reichsadler above a Harbour Depot (Westhafen).
Address: Nordufer 28, 13353 Moabit

reichsadler silfo westhafen berlin

[1938/40] Reichsadler above the former Reichsministerium für Bewaffnung und Munition (Armaments Ministry). Today Bundesagentur für Arbeit (Unemployment Office).
Address: Friedrichstraße 34, 10969 Mitte

agentur fuer arbeit reichsadler nazi berlin

[1935] Wehrmachtsadler above the entrance of Fort Hanneberg.
Address: Ernst-Bruch-Zeile 39, 13591 Spandau

nazi wehrmachtsadler fort haneberg reichsadler berlin

[1933] Wehrmachtsadler in a Church Mural. Martin-Luther-Gedächtniskirche
Address: Riegerzeile 1, 12105 Mariendorf

nazi reichsadler berlin martin luther gedaechtniskirche

[1933] Wehrmachtsadler above the entrance of the former Hindenburg-Kaserne
Address: Schmiedegasse 9, 14469 Potsdam

reichsadler wehrmachtsadler nazi adler hindenburg laserne potsdam brandenburg

[1937] 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

[1937] A Reichsadler above a fire place at the former Kaserne Krampnitz
Address: Potsdamer Chaussee, 14476 Potsdam

nazi eagle kaserne krampnitz abandoned potsdam berlin Kavallerieschule barracks Panzertruppenschule nazi soviet military base germany deutschland

[1937] A Reichsadler in the heraldic symbol of Prussia, at the former Kaserne Krampnitz
Address: Potsdamer Chaussee, 14476 Potsdam

nazi eagle prussia state emblem kaserne krampnitz abandoned potsdam berlin Kavallerieschule barracks Panzertruppenschule nazi soviet military base germany deutschland

22 Comments

  1. Thank you for this great article. You’d think that this is something they teach you in school History but nooo..

    Good to know 🙂

    Nev

    • Glad you enjoyed it! I didnt really know any of this before writing the article either. I was quite surprised to learn that the Bundesadler was actually the same Eagle from 1926.

  2. Great story!!!

  3. Amazing. I just photographed a few this week. Very funny. I found one in Potsdam also. Keep up the great stuff. Your blog is always a great read.

  4. Excellent article (as always)!

  5. R J E Bayliff

    “Seems like the Western Allies had less of a problem with the rather obvious remnants of the Third Reich.” Indeed. In April 1944 the management of Mitropa, the German railways restaurant and sleeping car company moved from Berlin to Hamburg and Bad Segeberg Ratekau to escape the attacks of the Red Army. The registered office remained in Berlin. After the unconditional surrender and partition into Allied Forces zones, like Germany itself, the company was divided into four, with one division for each of the sectors occupied by the Allied Powers of France, Great Britain, the United States, and the Soviet Union. After the Federal Republic of Germany was established in 1949 in the three Western German sectors, the former MITROPA divisions were merged into a new company, the Deutsche Schlafwagen- und Speisewagen-Gesellschaft (DSG) headquartered in Frankfurt/Main. In 1954 an agreement between MITROPA and DSG went into effect, regulating the so-called ‘Inter-Zone Travel’ between the two German states. MITROPA, in the meantime, maintained the legal form of an Aktiengesellschaft, which was very unusual in East Germany. the division into the Democratic and Federal Republics affecting the railways resulted in the creation of the DSG (German Sleeping and Dining Car comany) in the West proividing Dining and Sleeping Cars for the Deutsche Bundesbahn and Mitropa AG remained in Berlin providing Sleeping and Dining Cars for the Deutsche Reichsbahn in the East.

    The pre-war emblem of Mitropa from 1927 was a Reichsadler above a four-spoked wheel and this was retained by the DSG. Mitropa in the East removed the head of the eagle to leave a letter ‘M’ and added two spokes to the wheel to remove any semblance to the 1935 – 1945 Reichsadler.

    See https://www.mitropa-freunde.de/geschichte/

  6. The article showed me a lot thanks

  7. There is nothing funny about knowing the nazi eagle is found everywhere in Germany after the war. It is disgusting and reminds me that Germany lives with Nazi tendencies even today. I have seen it myself in Berlin. I appreciate the article and will include these facts in my book – giving appropriate recognition to the author.

  8. This, Good Sir, was an AWESOME piece of work! I loved it. Very educational, for folks who like to see these types of relics. You’ve done an excellent job at historical reporting, and fact-checking. This is beautiful! I have been to Germany, myself, just to see certain types of historical landmarks. I used to live in Darmstadt, and I would go all over Germany, looking for the most beautiful architecture, that they have to offer. Most people don’t know it, but Germany is just about the same size as New Jersey, USA. People from America are usually surprised to find-out that it’s so small. They have the idea in their heads, that most countries are about the same size, because it’s a natural comparison, until you find-out otherwise. That being stated, Germany and most other European countries, have so much to offer, historically, that it really takes years before you can even put a dent in a list of places to see. But, this article, can really save people a lot of time and effort, and the awkwardness of having to ask around. Anyway, I really enjoyed your information, and I am happy that you took the time to post it. Thank you! Take care, and good luck with future projects.

  9. Theo Brandwijk

    I couldn’t finish reading due to the disturbing font.. sorry

    • ah man, thanks for the headsup. Didnt realize that the article wasnt legible. Ive been fixing stuff on the site (still in the process actually), and something obviously broke/didnt carry over well. Ive quickly adjusted the font so it should easier for the eyes, but this piece is slated for a much needed overhaul.

  10. Pingback:Carinhall - The ruins of Herrmann Görings Villa | Lost Places Brandenburg

  11. Pingback:Finding the last emblems of the German Democratic Republic in Berlin

  12. I was stationed at Templehof Airport in Berlin in 1968. The blank wall on the extreme left side of the building as you faced the entrance to the Airport still had the burnt outline of a huge Nazi symbol. I wondered why twenty-three years after the war this symbol had not been cleaned off.

    • thats super interesting! Could you clarify what symbol it was? I wonder if its still there. How long were you stationed in Berlin for? Its not super uncommon for Nazi symbolism to have endured through allied use – quite a few of the Soviet Bases just left it there as well. I know of a few American bases in Bavaria which also left some (not so obvious) Nazi symbols on the buildings.

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