I'm no architect, but I know a Nazi-era building when I see one. Every time I walked or jogged along Möckernstraße next to the Anhalter Bahnhof, I would remind myself to try to figure out what this beautiful red-brick building's history was. It's currently a hotel, but I didn't think it had always been one. The style sticks out, both because there's a huge empty lot surrounding the building and because it's right next to the Tempodrom, a very weird-looking modern building.
It turns out, the beautiful building at the corner of of Möckernstraße and Hallestraße was built during the 1930s with the help of an architect associated with Albert Speer (of Nazi fame), but its history is actually pretty tame. It began its life as a Post Office.
The building was originally constructed in 1933-1934 by the architect Kurt Kuhlow. It underwent a redesign a year later with the help of another architect, Georg Werner, which added a top floor and much of the elaborate stonework that you currently see. Werner ended up working with Albert Speer, but Wikipedia tells me that he wasn't considered a hard core Nazi.
From 1936 onwards, the building was a run-of-the-mill post office and letter distribution center. it served in this capacity through World War II. After the war, it was the main letter distribution center for the western section of the city.
After reunification, the building was way too small to serve the entire city. It was phased out of duty, falling out of service completely in the mid 1990s. It was replaced by this inspiring piece of architecture, which was built in 1971.
The two buildings are of slightly differing styles, don't you think? But they do represent different eras of Berlin's history. One, an era in which architecture was used to project state power. Another, when function prevailed over form. The old post office eventually became a hotel. The new one? The building was just sold, and will be renovated into more than 1000 apartments beginning in 2016.
What's new becomes old, and then new again. That's Berlin. That's history.