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German Capital Moves from Bonn to Berlin

Dateline: 04/17/99

On Monday, April 19 the German parliament (the Bundestag) will be meeting in the Reichstag building in Berlin, signaling the transfer of the capital of Germany from Bonn to Berlin. The parliament has not met in Reichstag since the Reichstag Fire of 1933. The recently renovated Reichstag includes a glass dome, symbolizing a new Germany and a new capital.

Map of Germany

While Bonn served as the capital of West Germany from 1949 until German reunification in 1990, when Berlin was chosen as the new capital, the relocation of the government has been a lengthy and costly process (total cost is expected to be approximately U.S. $11 billion.) The 370-mile (595 km) move to the northeast (and the former pre-WWII capital) has been delayed by construction problems, plan changes, and bureaucratic immobilization. East Berlin was the capital of the pre-1990 country of East Germany while West Berlin, although surrounded by East Germany, was part of West Germany.

The Interior Ministry, the first government agency whose building is almost complete, sent their first trainload of supplies and equipment from Bonn to Berlin last Monday, April 12. Although (largely ceremonial) President Roman Herzog relocated last November to Berlin, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder won't be moving to Berlin until the summer. He'll be moving to temporary quarters while his chancellery, expected to be completed 2001, is being constructed.

As well, Bundestag plans to officially move to Berlin over the summer, Monday's inaugural session at the Reichstag is ceremonial; following the inaugural session parliament will return to Bonn to continue moving their office and will reconvene in the fall.

In addition to the movement of the German government, the embassies of 151 countries, many national organizations, and media agencies are all moving over the next few years to the new German capital.


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