Thursday, June 24, 2010

The German Series #4 - Ernst Reuter

Ernst Reuter was one of many people persecuted by the Nazis who fled the Third Reich and found refuge in Turkey. Reuter, a Social Democrat, held many different political offices during the Weimar Republic in Berlin and Magdeburg which made him a political opponent of the Nazi regime. Once the Nazis seized power, Reuter was stripped of his offices and later deported to the Lichtenburg concentration camp.
In 1934, with the help of friends and allies, he managed to escape to Turkey via Great Britain and survive the Nazi regime. Reuter worked as adviser to the Turkish Ministry of Economics and advised the Turkish government on matters relating to transport and wages among other things. He also taught urban development and town planning at the Ankara School of Management. After the end of the Second World War and about ten years of exile in Turkey, Reuter returned to Germany. At first he took over the Berlin Department of Transport and in 1951 was elected the city’s first Mayor.
With his legendary beret and his walking stick Ernst Reuter at the "Station Zoo". The photo is undated.
Ernst Reuter became famous for a memorable speech he delivered during the Berlin Blockade of 1948/1949. Standing in front of the Reichstag that lay in ruins, he addressed an audience of over 300,000 people: “People of this world ... look upon this city and see that you should not and cannot abandon this city and this people.” With Reuter’s help the Berlin Airlift could finally be implemented successfully, despite the Allies’ initial reservations.

Ernst Reuter died in Berlin on 29 September 1953 at the age of 64 following a heart attack.

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