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Bunker birth station in World War II: The Reichstag babies


The Berlin Reichstag building was not just a parliamentary seat in its history. In the last years of the war, children were born in his cellar. Some of them are now returning to their birthplace.

Mareile Van der Wyst looks after her birth certificate like a little treasure. She saves the document in a safe because it contains a remarkable entry: "Born on September 15, 1944 in the Reichstag building in Berlin." Mareile Van der Wyst was a Reichstag baby.

It is a hitherto neglected and explored chapter in the long history of the Berlin Reichstag building. Not only the Parliament of the German Empire, the Weimar Republic and the reunited Germany met here in its history. Even children were born in his heart.

For where the German Bundestag makes politics today, the birth station of the Charité was housed in the last years of the Second World War. The basements of the then vacant building should allow expectant mothers a reasonably safe delivery, the bricked windows protect them from the falling bombs.


The burnt out and badly destroyed Reichstag a few months after the end of the war

One of these children is Mareile Van der Wyst. She is proud of her birthplace. "It's just a special story," says the 74-year-old from Großbeeren near Berlin.

How unusual her story is, Van der Wyst felt for the first time when she had to show the certificate during official visits. "The fact that I was born in the Reichstag has already astonished me." But she was really aware of it when, in 1999, the Bundestag finally moved back into the Reichstag building. Van der Wyst was then invited to a ceremony at her birthplace. And she got lifelong visitation in parliament. If she wants to get in, she shows her birth certificate.

It is estimated that 60 to 80 babies were born in the Reichstag

Walter Waligora is also one of the Reichstag children. But for him that has never played a big role, says Waligora. He had not been in the Reichstag building for ages. He lives in Berlin-Spandau, far from the government district in the city center.

The moment he realizes that his birthplace is special, he still remembers: "We went through the subject of the Reichstag at school, so of course I was proud when I could tell the others that I was there was born. " But today, this is at most relevant for Waligora when he passes by the building with his wife. "Then I point it out and say, Look, my birthplace."

Little is known about the birth ward in the depths of the parliament building. "Probably many documents are burned in the war," said the CDU member of parliament Peter Stein, who has been dealing with the issue for some time. Experts assume that was released in the underground of the Reichstag from 1943 to 1945. The exact dates are unknown. No one knows how many children were born in the Reichstag. Some estimates assume 60 to 80 babies, others over 100.

Monika Skolimowska / DPA

Mareile Van der Wyst was born on September 15, 1944 in the basement of the Reichstag

Waligora never talked to his mother about the time of his birth. He can only assume that she fled to the Reichstag bunker when her contractions began. "Probably on foot, it could hardly be otherwise."

Mareile Van der Wyst, on the other hand, knows that shortly before the probable date of birth, her mother made her way to the parliament building every day. "She commuted from her place of residence Lichtenberg to the Reichstag." If her mother did not give birth during the night, she had to go home the next day, says Van der Wyst. The distance the pregnant woman traveled every morning and evening is nearly ten kilometers long. "How she did that in the ruined city, I do not know."

Reichstag children are guests in the Bundestag

On 8 September, the Reichstag children Van der Wyst and Waligora will meet for the first time. Together with 13 other members of the Reichstag, they are invited to a guided tour of the parliament building. For those of you who were born there in 1944 are celebrating their 75th birthday this year.

On this occasion, the time is to be considered, in which women traveled long distances through the devastated by the war in Berlin to bring their children safely to the world. "Today's jubilees were children at that time who gave hope in a dark time for our country," said Bundestag President Wolfgang Schäuble.

Waligora is looking forward to this day. "It's a great opportunity to take a close look at the Reichstag building." A sign for a special connection to the policy was the birth in the Reichstag however neither with Van der Wyst nor with Waligora. She worked as a teacher, he in the street supervision. In fact, Waligora is not particularly interested in politics. For him, the Reichstag building is simply his birthplace.

Source: spiegel

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