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Getting Around
Public Safety
Health Care
Parks and Recreation
Performing Arts
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Holidays and Festivals
Famous Citizens
For Further Study

Berlin, Germany, Europe

Founded: October 28, 1237
Location: Europe, northeastern Germany, on the River Spree
Flag: A white field with a red stripe on top and bottom; the Berlin bear rests in the center.
Time Zone: 1 pm = noon Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)
Ethnic Composition: 23% of the foreign residents in Germany live in Hamburg and Berlin, including a large population of Turkish immigrants.
Elevation: 34 meters above sea level. Berlin lies on a huge plain in the northeast corner of Germany, comprising 833 square kilometers.
Latitude and Longitude: 52°31 N, 13°25 E
Coastline: None
Climate: Mild summers and wet winters.
Annual Mean Temperature: 47°F (8°C); in January: 31°F (-1°C); in July: 66°F (19°C). It either rains or snows in Berlin during 91 days of the year. Its placement on the European continent, with the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the Baltic Sea above, make the city subject to the prevailing winds from across the water, carrying moisture to the land.
Average Annual Precipitation: 23 inches
Government: A parliament, senate and mayor
Weights and Measures: Metric
Monetary Units: 1 deutsch mark = 100 pfennige
Telephone Area Code: Germany country code: 49; Berlin code: 30
Postal Codes: 1000012527, 1253114199

1. Introduction

The political home of Germany's Federal Government and the educational center of Germany, Berlin is the nation's capital and busiest city. Although major reconstruction projects have helped make Berlin an attractive, modern city, the shadows of World War II (193945) and the Berlin Wall still darken its recent history. This is the seat of German power, where Adolf Hitler (18891945) gained control in 1933 by marching through the Brandenburg Gate and taking over parliament in the Reichtags building. After World War II, Berlin turned into a Cold War battleground, separated into a Soviet-influenced East and an American-influenced West by the Berlin Wall in 1966. But, there are startling contrasts to war in Berlin, such as the intellectual and scientific blossoming of the Enlightenment during the 1700s and "golden" 1920s of the twentieth century. Always a cultural center, Berlin has continued this tradition with many museums and theaters, while Berlin's trade associations employ the majority of the workforce with apprenticeships and permanent jobs.

2. Getting There

Berlin is located in the northeastern corner of Germany on the banks of the river Spree. On the South Bank, along the Strasse des 17 Juni, monuments like the Berlin Zoo, Tiergarten, Brandenburg Gate, Reichstag, and Schloss Bellevue draw tourists. Numerous transportation projects are currently under way, modernizing and extending the existing system, and connecting the former East and West Berlin into one community. The city is also seen as something of a gateway between Eastern and Western Europe, where transportation lines lead directly into all sections of the continent.


Berlin's urban motorway is the A100, while the six-lane A113 travels along the Teltow Canal.

Bus and Railroad Service

High speed trains, such as the Inter City Express (ICE) and the Euro City (EC) operate to and from Berlin, but in 2005 the Transrapid magnetic levitation train will make travel even faster between Hamburg and Berlin (the two largest cities in Germany). There have been some problems finding funds to install the Transrapid, which have delayed the opening. Lehrter Bahnhof is the major train station in Berlin, which is located in the government precinct, right next to the Chancellery. From this train station, a passenger will be able travel directly to any location on the continent.

Berlin Population Profile

Population: 3,337,000
Area: 883 sq km (340 sq mi)
Ethnic composition: 95.1% German; 2.3% Turkish; 0.7% Italian; 0.4% Greek; 0.4Polish; 1.1% other
Area: Area within city limits, including the western Kurfürstendamm and the eastern Alexanderplatz, plus Spandau, Marzahn, Hellersdorf, Grunewald, Frohnau, and Westend
World population rank 1: 85
Percentage of total country population 2: 4.0%
Average yearly growth rate: 0.1%
Nicknames: Divided City; Venice of the North; the name Berlin means "bog" in Slavic, so called because of the swamps surrounding the city.

  1. The Berlin metropolitan area's rank among the world's urban areas.
  2. The percent of Germany's total population living in the Berlin metropolitan area.


The Tegel airport is the main international airport in western Berlin, closely followed by Shonefeld in the east. These airports will soon be complemented by the new Berlin-Brandenburg International Airport (BBI), slated for completion in 2007. Major airlines, such as Air France, Austrian Airlines, British Airways, Delta, KLM, Lufthansa, and Pan Am, operate in Berlin.

3. Getting Around

The city of Greater Berlin was laid out in its present form in 1920, divided down the middle into North and South banks by the river Spree, and into Eastern and Western sections by the former Berlin wall. Some major roads that run through the city are the Strasse des 17 Juni, Kurfurstendamm, Potsdamer, Friedrich, and Unter den Linden. These roads are lined with historical buildings and cultural venues that are easily accessible by the underground railways.

Bus and Commuter Rail Service

The Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVGBerlin Public Transportation) in Berlin has attempted to lessen noise, pollution, and traffic by strengthening the public transportation service. Bus service is less convenient than using the trams (which run mostly in eastern Berlin) and quick underground railways. The suburban railway network, "Sbahn" and "U-bahn," consists of 300 kilometers (186 miles) of track which runs around in circles under the city. The U5 travels from east to west while the U6 travels north to south.


Many of Berlin's sights are within walking distance of the public transportation system, including the boulevard Unter den Linden which starts at Brandenburg Gate, continuing to the river, with the Tiergarten nearby. Museum Island is a popular place to view the extensive art collections of Berlin, which is actually located in the Spree River. Potsdamer Platz, in the center of the city, holds the State Library, National Gallery, and Philharmonic Concert Hall. Tour boats travel on the many lakes and canals around the city.

4. People

The population of Berlin in 1999 amounted to more than 4.3 million, but this figure has been declining since the 1970s, in part because the birthrate is one of the lowest in the world. Only ten-and-a-half births occur per 1,000 inhabitants during a given year. However, an increasing number of foreigners have been settling in Berlin due to recently loosened immigration laws and easier citizenship requirements. Nearly 500,000 foreigners live in what has been called the most international city in Germany, including Turks, Russians, Poles, and others. Despite the mixture of cultures the official language of the people is High German, which came into common usage after Martin Luther's translation of the bible in the sixteenth century. There is also a residual split between East Germans, or "Ossis," and West Germans, who are called "Wessis."

5. Neighborhoods

The center of Berlin is marked by the Reichstag, or Deutscher Bundestag-Plenarbereich Reichstagsgebäude (German Federal Assembly-Plenary Area, Imperial Assembly Building), which was renamed to symbolize a break with the city's Nazi history. The Brandenburg Tor, or Gate, is the doorway from West

City Fact Comparison
Indicator Berlin Cairo Rome Beijing
(Germany) (Egypt) (Italy) (China)
Population of urban area1 3,337,000 10,772,000 2,688,000 12,033,000
Date the city was founded 28 October 1237 AD 969 753 BC 723 BC
Daily costs to visit the city2
Hotel (single occupancy) $118 $193 $172 $129
Meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner) $66 $56 $59 $62
Incidentals (laundry, dry cleaning, etc.) $16 $14 $15 $16
Total daily costs (hotel, meals, incidentals) $200 $173 $246 $207
Major Newspapers3
Number of newspapers serving the city 8 13 20 11
Largest newspaper Berliner Zeitung Akhbar El Yom/Al Akhbar La Repubblica Renmin Ribao
Circulation of largest newspaper 370,000 1,159,450 754,930 3,000,000
Date largest newspaper was established 1877 1944 1976 1948
1United Nations population estimates for the year 2000.
2The maximum amount the U.S. Government reimburses its employees for business travel. The lodging portion of the allowance is based on the cost for a single room at a moderately-priced hotel. The meal portion is based on the costs of an average breakfast, lunch, and dinner including taxes, service charges, and customary tips. Incidental travel expenses include such things as laundry and dry cleaning.
3David Maddux, ed. Editor&Publisher International Year Book. New York: The Editor&Publisher Company, 1999.

to East, where the Berlin Wall crossed the city center before it was destroyed in November 1989. The eastern and western portions of the city differ greatly, with the western Kurfürstendamm, or Ku'damm, commercial center sporting all of the nicest shops and cafés while the eastern Alexanderplatz has been described as "depressing." This should change soon because the greatest building activity in Germany is taking place in Berlin, improving the infrastructure that will link both sides of the city together again. Much of the population lives in the suburbs. Spandau, in the west of Berlin, is home to one of Berlin's largest residential developments, Wasserstadt Oberhavel on the banks of the Havel. Biesdorf-Süd, between Marzahn and Hellersdorf, houses 500,000 residents on the edge of the former East Berlin. The nicer neighborhoods lie around the lakes in the west, including the Grunewald, Frohnau, and Westend communities. The majority of Berliners rent housing and enjoy the idea of a local community, or the Kiez. Although Berlin has always been a popular place to live, more people are emigrating to nearby towns and cities than are moving into the capital city. The government has embarked upon a complete restructuring of surrounding communities designed to help draw back residents; it is expected to show results by the year 2010.

6. History

In 1237, the fishing community of Colln was first registered as a town located on the south bank of the Spree River. After 1244, opposite this settlement on the north bank, lay the larger merchant town of Berlin. Following a century or more of separation, the administrations of these two towns merged in 1307 to fight against robber barons. These "noblemen" acted more like pirates, demanding huge tributes and terrorizing the populace, but without an army the citizens of Berlin could not fight back. By the year 1411, the town had asked the Holy Roman Emperor for protection, bringing in Fredrich von Hohenzollern, Burggraf of Nuremberg and his army. The Hohenzollerns ruled Berlin and most of Germany for centuries, conquering Prussia in 1640 and founding the German Reich in 1871. Traditionally the capital city and royal residence of the Hohenzollerns, Friedrich Wilhelm chose Berlin as his seat of power in the newly founded Prussia. Eight Friedrich Wilhelms followed his example, building the military and economic strength of Germany from Berlin.

The Industrial Revolution (c. 1750) brought new factories and an influx of settlers to the city from the surrounding countryside. During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the city's population reached more than four million, attracting both industry and culture. By 1871, Otto von Bismarck (18151898) and Wilhelm I (17971888) succeeded where others had failed by bringing together Denmark, Austria, France, Prussia, and the German states into one empire, with Berlin as the capital. This was the first time that the German states were truly unified, but the German empire, which extended across Europe and into the colonies, still posed a military challenge.

The shock of losing World War I (191418) caused riots in Berlin against the traditional imperial system, which was replaced by a democratic constitution in Weimar, in 1919. This political instability was accentuated by the economic problems, or Great Depression, of the "golden" 1920s, but Berlin seemed to flower under pressure. Ironically, the city bloomed into the most popular gathering place for avant-garde artists, like Fritz Lang, Klaus Mann, and Bertolt Brecht. In 1933, Hitler ended the party by marching thousands of troops into Berlin and imposing military rule. The 1936 Olympic games in Berlin were sadly overshadowed by war preparations. When Hitler annexed Austria and part of Czechoslovakia in 1938, he also ordered the destruction of Jewish buildings in Berlin called Reichskristallnacht, or the night of the broken glass. The Nazis systematically killed approximately 50,000 Jews in concentration camps until World War II ended in 1945. Only two-and-a-half million of Berlin's four million inhabitants were left after the fighting ended.

Berlin was divided into four parts at first, with the Soviet Union, United States, Britain, and France overseeing the reconstruction. By 1948, the United States had claimed West Germany, and the Soviet Union had assumed control of East Germany, but Berlin's location in the east caused problems. The democracies wanted to keep some hold on Berlin (the traditional power seat), so they proceeded to airlift food into the starved Soviet city. In 1961, the Soviets built a wall dividing the city in half, which remained until 1989. At this point, the western capital moved to Bonn while the Soviet occupiers stayed in Berlin. This artificial separation made reunification a happy occasion, but difficult economically and socially. In 1994, the last foreign troops left Berlin, signaling the end to 50 years of occupation and allowing the German government's homecoming to Berlin in 1999.

7. Government

The city-state of Berlin's political system consists of the mayor, the House of Representatives, or city Parliament, which is elected for four-year terms with a minimum of 150 representatives and public meetings, and the Senate. There are ten ministerial portfolios. The constitution written in 1950 for western Berlin has applied to eastern Berlin as well since 1991. The city is also the Federal Capital of Germany, with all major governmental offices located on the banks of the river Spree.

8. Public Safety

The police force in Berlin consists of the general police for petty crimes, criminal police for serious crimes, alert forces for large-scale problems, and the river police. The Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), which deals with criminals that operate across state boundaries, has one of its bases in Berlin and is also the national center for Interpol. The border patrol also operates along the Polish border, which lies only 100 kilometers (62 miles) away from Berlin.

9. Economy

Berlin began as a fishing and trading community, selling primarily rye and timber. This role in trade grew larger through the centuries as a disciplined military force protected foreign tradesmen and helped collect customs tariffs. The 1830s brought the Industrial Revolution to Berlin, which hastily built factories to produce machine tools, dyes, medicines, and electrical goods. AEG and Siemens had an early start in Berlin, fueling participation in both World Wars. The Great Depression brought economic chaos, but success in the arts, especially in film production. Although Berlin was devastated by the time World War II was over, major reconstruction projects funded by the victors helped to keep the economy going.

Berlin continues to deal with ongoing reintegration of the West with the East, as well as an economy that is shifting from the processing to the service sector. Many companies relocated from Berlin during the uncertain years after the war, but now Daimler-Benz, Sony, IBM-Germany, and German Rail have headquarters along the Spree. Berlin is one of Germany's largest banking centers, the world's leading conference center, the seat of Federal Government, and the largest university city in Germany (147,000 students) with three major universities. Half of the 1.6 million workers are in the service sector, and about 13 percent of the workforce is unemployed, but recent restructuring aims to lower this figure. Also, projects with the rest of the European Union, including monetary unification, have played an important role in stabilizing the Berlin economy.

10. Environment

The Social Democrat-Green Party coalition in Germany's federal government gave environmentalists a strong say in policymaking at the end of the twentieth century. As the twenty-first century begins, the Federal Environmental Agency in Berlin hopes to promote the efficient use of energy, to close substance cycles, and reverse land depletion trends, but the biggest problem comes from eastern industry. Lignite was the main source of energy in the former GDR, satisfying 70 percent of the east's requirement, leading to massive pollution throughout Germany. Lignite is still the principal domestic source of energy, with reserves reaching 43 billion tons in the Rhineland. The alternative, nuclear power, has gained ridicule from environmentalists who see nuclear power plants as more of a danger than a viable resource. A number of rivers and lakes flow in and around Berlin, which are as polluted as the streets of the city. The administration's energy policy hopes to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 25 percent between 1990 and 2010, in part by building new, energy-efficient flats and limiting industrial pollutants. By 1995, carbon dioxide levels were down by ten percent. The Berlin Solar Campaign also hopes to bring solar energy, which can be used without creating harmful emissions, into widespread use. In recent years, flooding in Germany resulting from alternating El Niño and La Nina weather patterns and stimulated by global warming has washed away topsoil and endangered lives. It is hoped that with replanting and other soil conservation measures the land and forests will remain an important resource for generations to come.

11. Shopping

At the trendy Prenzlauer Berg, art galleries, cafés, and restaurants line the street. A large, new shopping mall has been built at Potsdamer Platz, a startling contrast to the eastern Alexander-platz, which has barely been renovated since Soviet occupation. The Kurfürstendamm, or Ku'damm, is a three-and-a-half-kilometer (two-mile) strip of shops, movie theaters, bars, and cafés, including 6,500 pubs and restaurants. Ku'damm and Tauentzienstrasse in the West are the main shopping centers, along with Friedrichstrasse in the East. Shop hours are normally 9:30 am to 8:00 pm Monday through Friday and 9:00 am to 4:00 pm Saturday. Most shops are closed on Sunday, but more and more stores are opening their doors to customers all week long. Business is booming in the newly renovated capital of Germany, drawing customers and holiday travelers from around the world. A visitor can get a three-day pass on the underground in order to visit all the shopping centers without missing a store.

12. Education

Compulsory schooling begins for Berlin students at age seven and lasts for nine or ten years. Most children are tested at age ten for aptitude and then placed in a Hauptshule or Realshule for vocational trades, a Gymnasium for academics, or a comprehensive Gesamtschule, which teaches all trades. Those from the Gymnasium finish school with their abitur exams while children from the Realschule continue on to technical school, or Fachobershule, and polytechnic university, or Fachhochschule. Education through post-graduate work is free for all, including foreigners. There are three major universities in Berlin: Freie Universität Berlin with 61,000 students, Technische Universität Berlin with 38,000 students, and Humbolt Universität zu Berlin with 19,000 students. There are numerous other colleges that cater to more particular professions and trades. The guild system, which began during the middle ages in Germany, continues to some extent through the educational system which is geared towards satisfying the business community's needs with apprenticeship and internship requirements in many fields. Berlin is also home to a large number of foreign students that come to the international city to learn the German language, as well as about the clash between western and eastern culture and the two world wars that took place largely on German and French soil.

13. Health Care

Everyone in Germany is entitled to health care, with benefits programs divided into two categories. Statutory insurance provides virtually free choice of doctors (on a quarterly basis), unlimited visits and checkups, prescription drug coverage with a co-payment, comprehensive dental visits, vision and hearing aids, mental health visits, monthly home allowances for the chronically ill, liberal maternity benefits, and disability pay. The government receives funds to pay for health care from employee taxes and public and private donations, but much of the money comes from government coffers. Partly as a result of comprehensive health care and the social welfare system, the German government's debt has risen substantially.

14. Media

Die Welt is the only national German daily to move its headquarters from Bonn to Berlin and to add expanded coverage of the city. There are nearly 1,200 accredited correspondents in Bonn and Berlin, working for the following newspapers and magazines. The B.Z. has the largest circulation of the city with 298,500; the Berliner Zeitung comes next with 216,600; and the Berliner Morgenpost, Tagesspiegel, and Tages Zeitung also have extensive circulations. Magazines such as Der Spiegel and Focus are popular, but American and other European magazines can be found on most store shelves as well.

15. Sports

The Berlin New Year Run brings athletes out of doors for one of the largest sports events in the city. The Berliner SV 1892 rugby club, the Berlin Cricket Clubthe Refugeesand ALBA Berlin basketball teamAlbatroscomprise the major sports clubs.

16. Parks and Recreation

In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Prussian Kings and German Emperors of the House of Hohenzollern transformed the Havel landscape into a series of parks, beginning a great tradition of German respect for nature. The center of these public works was in Potsdam, but this extended towards the Berlin royal palace and winter residence that were both destroyed during World War II. On King's Road to Berlin, Glienicke Palace's gardens contain a landscaped park, and Babelsberg Palace's gothic buildings are surrounded by manicured land. In the center of Berlin, Unter den Linden is a nice boulevard to promenade, leading to the Zoologischer Garten and Tiergarten, which is a protected woodland. On Museum Island, a number of gardens also surround the museum district, making the island an attractive place to visit. The lakes and rivers throughout the city lend the opportunity to sightsee by boat and to enjoy nature and the great outdoors.

17. Performing Arts

Berlin is the music capital of Germany, named so because of the many opera houses and orchestras. There are three opera houses and five other orchestras, including the top-rated Deutsche Staatsoper Unter den Linden with international music director Daniel Barenboim and the Philharmonic Hall, the Deutsche Oper Berlin, and the Komische Oper. The Musical Theatre Berlin, Theater des Westens, Friei Volksbühne Berlin, and Theater am Kurfürstendamm put on plays and musicals. To get a taste of cabaret-style entertainment, a visitor can go to Bar Jeder Vernunft-Spiegelpalast, the Wintergarten, and Chamäleon Variete. The Berlin Festival, Film Festival, and Theater make the city a gathering place for young artists in the progressive cultural scene. The nightlife is scattered with small club gatherings that feature live music, electronic music, and theatrical productions. On just about every street corner in the arts districts, street performers can be seen juggling, dancing, singing, painting, or playing an instrument.

18. Libraries and Museums

The Berlin Central and Regional Library is a fusion of the American House Library and the Berlin State Library which took place in 1995. The new Bundestag Library supports governmental officials. For business reference, the Science and Technology Center Berlin Adlershof (WISTA) contains a wealth of products and services in information technology in an integrated technology park just southeast of Berlin. For tourists, the New National Gallery contains works by Hals, Rembrandt, and Vermeer, as well as twentieth-century German art, especially Berlin portraits and cityscapes by Geroge Grosz and Otto Dix. The Pergamonmuseum contains classical artifacts and antiquities, such as Islamic art, a Pergamon Altar (160 B. C. ), and a Babylonian Throne Room, located on Museum Island in the middle of the river Spree with the Bodemuseum. Finally, the Bauhaus Archive Design Museum holds works from the Bauhaus period, which lasted from 1919 to 1933. A three-day pass to these museums and more can be purchased from the German tourism board.

19. Tourism

More than six million tourists visit Berlin every year, making it one of the most popular cities in Europe. Volker Hassemer, managing director of the city's marketing agency, claims that "If you want to see the past, go to Rome. If you want to see the future, come to Berlin." The city is undergoing massive reconstruction, with some of the most advanced architecture in the world. Hanover Expo 2000 set out to prove to the world that Germany has not only recovered from World War II but thrived on foreign investment and European protection. Nevertheless, many tourists still come to see historical monuments, including Haus am Checkpoint Charlie, the Berlin Wall memorial, the Fernsehturm (TV tower) which gives a spectacular view of the city, the Reichtags building, and Brandenburg Gate. A number of companies offer walking tours of the city, as well as boating excursions on the river Spree.

20. Holidays and Festivals

Berlin New Year's Run
Unter den Linden

Berlinale Annual International Film Festival

Love Parade (techno and rave party with a procession through Berlin)

Jazz Festival Berlin
Deutschland Festival (street procession Unter den Linden with presentations by German states)

International Riding and Jumping Tournament in the Deutschlandhalle
Anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall "NovaEuropaNew Europe" Festival (European dance festival)

21. Famous Citizens

Otto Hahn (18791968), physical chemist, discovered the radioactive protactinium in Berlin with Lisa Meitner.

Alexander von Humboldt (17691859), baron, naturalist, and traveler.

Karl Wilhelm von Humboldt (17671835), statesman and philologist, founder of the Friedrich Wilhelm (now Humboldt) University of Berlin.

Helen Lange (18481930), founder of the German Women's Teacher's Association in Berlin in 1889.

Marie-Elizabeth Luders (18881966), first woman named as honorary president of the Federal Democratic Party, first woman named as senior member of the Bundestag.

Max Planck (18581947), theoretical physicist, formulator of the quantum theory.

Rudolf Schoenheimer (18981941), biochemist.

Louise Schroder (18871957), committed socialist, first woman to be called "Mother of Berlin" in the late 1940s.

22. For Further Study


Berlin Central and Regional Library. [Online] Available (accessed April 14, 2000).

Berlin website with links. [Online] Available (accessed November 30, 1999).

Senate Department of Construction, Housing and Transport, Berlin, Germany. [Online] Available (accessed April 14, 2000).

The Week in Germany. [Online] Available (accessed April 14, 2000).

Government Offices

Berliner Rathaus
10173 Berlin
Tel. (030)90260
Fax (030)90262013

Tourist and Convention Bureaus

German National Tourist Office
122 East 42nd St.
Chanin Building, 52nd Floor
New York, NY 101680072 USA
Tel. (212)6617200
Fax (212)6617174


Berliner Morgenpost
Axel-Springer-Str. 65
D-10888 Berlin
Tel. (030) 25910
Fax (030) 2516071
[Online] Available (Accessed April 14, 2000).


Gumbel, Andrew. Berlin. London: Cadogan Books, 1991.

The Heads of Government of the 16 Constituent States in Germany. Bonn, Germany: Inter Nations Press, 1999.

Koppler, Dr. Arno and Stefan Reichart, eds. Facts About Germany. Frankfurt am Main: German Societats Verlag, 1996.

Larsson, Mans O., ed. Let's Go Germany. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1999.

Merkl, Peter H. The Federal Republic of Germany at Fifty: The End of a Century of Turmoil. New York: NYU Press, 1999.

Solsten, Eric, ed. Germany: A Country Study. 3rd ed. Washington, D.C.: Federal Research Division, Library of Congress, 1995.

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Berlin (city, Germany)

Berlin (bûr´lĬn´, Ger. bĕrlēn´), city (1994 pop. 3,475,400), capital of Germany, coextensive with Berlin state (341 sq mi/883 sq km), NE Germany, on the Spree and Havel rivers. Formerly divided into East Berlin (156 sq mi/404 sq km) and West Berlin (185 sq mi/479 sq km), the city was reunified along with East and West Germany on Oct. 3, 1990.


Due in part to aid from the United States and other Allied powers, West Berlin's recovery after World War II was rapid and substantial. East Berlin, however, saw a period of relative economic decline, though it became the undisputed focal point of development within the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) and an important city in Soviet-dominated Eastern Europe. Berlin's economy has been primarily industrial, but is becoming increasingly focused on service-sector activities. Electronics and garments are major industries; other manufactures includes textiles, metals, porcelain and china, bicycles, and machinery. The move of the national government to Berlin prompted a building boom during the 1990s, including more than 30 major construction projects in the eastern part of the city and a large aircraft factory on its outskirts. A new central railroad station opened in 2006.

Institutions and Attractions

Berlin is a major cultural center, home to orchestras, opera companies, repertory theaters, and museums. It has an excellent public transportation system and is served by two airports. In the Kurfürstendamm, the main thoroughfare in the western section of the city, stands the gutted tower of the original Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, left unrestored as a reminder of World War II. A similar memorial, the unrestored remains of the St. Nicholas Church, were formerly preserved in E Berlin, but beginning in the 1980s it was reconstructed and is now part of the Berlin City Museum. The Berlin Cathedral (1894–1905), located on Museum Island (N Spree Island), also was damaged but was reconstructed (1975–2002).

The large Tiergarten park in central Berlin contains the reconstructed Reichstag building with its glass dome and the Berlin zoo. On the NE side of the park, along a bend in the Spree River, the Federal Strip houses a number of government buildings, including the enormous Chancellery (opened 2001). The concert hall of the Berlin Philharmonic is on the opposite side of the Tiergarten. At the SE end of the park is Potsdamer Platz, which was the heart of the city in the 1920s and 30s. In the 1990s, it came under commercial and residential renewal, becoming the largest construction site in Europe. The State Opera is in E Berlin, on the famous Unter den Linden, which leads to the Brandenburg Gate, a triumphal arch in the classical style. Near the Gate is the city's 5.5-acre (2.2-hectare) Holocaust memorial (2005).

Among Berlin's many museums are those in the Cultural Forum in the western part of the city, including the New National Gallery and the Gemäldegarie; those in Museum Island in the eastern part of the city, including the Altes Museum, the Egyptian Museum, and the Pergamon Museum; and the Berlin Museum–Jewish Museum complex in the Kreuzberg district. Humboldt Univ. of Berlin (formerly known as the Univ. of Berlin or Frederick William Univ.) and the Free Univ. of Berlin (founded in 1948) are among the city's many educational and scientific institutions.


Early History to World War II

Berlin had its beginning in two Wendish villages, Berlin and Kölln, which were chartered in the 13th cent. and merged in 1307. It assumed importance as a Hanseatic League town in the 14th cent. and became the seat of the electors of Brandenburg (after 1701, kings of Prussia) in 1486. Berlin suffered severely from the Thirty Years War (1618–48), but Frederick William (reigned 1640–88), the Great Elector, restored and improved the city. Occupied in the Seven Years War by Austrian (1757) and Russian (1760) troops and in the Napoleonic Wars by the French (1806–8), Berlin emerged from the conflicts as a center of German national feeling and an increasingly serious rival of Vienna.

From the 18th and early 19th cent. date many of the distinguished monuments and buildings of the city (chiefly by Andreas Schlüter and Karl Friedrich Schinkel). Berlin was the center of the Revolution of 1848 against King Frederick William IV. The construction of railroads (1840–61) gave it additional importance as an industrial and commercial center. Berlin also became part of a canal system that linked it to the Oder, Elbe, and Rhine rivers and to the North Sea. In 1866 it became the seat of the North German Confederation and in 1871 it was made the capital of the German Empire. The city prospered and expanded rapidly, becoming one of the great urban centers of the world. Berlin's population had increased from 201,000 in 1819 to 914,000 in 1871; by 1900 it was 2,712,000.

The German military defeat of 1918 brought on a period of social and political unrest. After the establishment (Nov., 1918) of a Socialist government, Berlin was the scene of the abortive uprising of the Communist Spartacus party (Jan., 1919) and of the conservative putsch of 1920 (see Kapp, Wolfgang). As the capital of the Weimar Republic, Berlin suffered severe economic crises in the 1920s, but it was also a brilliant cultural center.

Throughout the Nazi regime (1933–45) Berlin remained the second largest city of Europe, a notable economic, political, and educational center, and a huge inland port with a flourishing world trade. It was also the major communications and transportation hub of Central Europe. During World War II, Berlin was repeatedly bombed from the air by the Allies, but the heaviest destruction was caused by a Soviet artillery barrage of unprecedented intensity that preceded the capture (May 2, 1945) of the city by Marshal Zhukov.

Divided Berlin

On May 8, 1945, Germany's unconditional surrender to the Allies was signed in Berlin. The division of the city into sectors by the Potsdam Conference resulted in severe tension between the Soviet Union and the Western powers. The Soviets occupied the sector that subsequently became known as East Berlin. The zones assigned to the British, American, and French occupation forces constituted West Berlin. The French occupied the NW part of the city, and the Americans and the British occupied the S districts. The joint Allied military government (Kommandatura) was not successful and virtually ceased to function when the USSR informally withdrew in 1948.

The status of Berlin became a major cold war issue, and attempts at international agreement ended in deadlock (see Foreign Ministers, Council of) as the USSR sought to remove all Western (including West German) control from West Berlin and the Western powers maintained that settlement of the Berlin problem depended on reunification of Germany. In 1948, Soviet authorities established a blockade on all land and water communications between West Berlin and West Germany. The Western powers, foremost among them the United States, successfully undertook to supply West Berlin by a large-scale airlift through three air "corridors" left open to them (see Berlin airlift). The blockade was withdrawn in May, 1949, and the airlift ended in Sept., 1949. In that year East Berlin was proclaimed the capital of the new German Democratic Republic, and in 1950 West Berlin was established as one of the states of the Federal Republic of Germany (of which Berlin was the de jure capital and Bonn the de facto capital). Workers rioted in East Berlin in June, 1953, and were suppressed by Soviet tanks.

In the following years there were several Berlin crises, as the USSR in unilateral declarations, often accompanied by harassing actions, contested the legal basis for the Western powers' presence in and access to West Berlin. Meanwhile better living conditions in the western zone had led to a massive exodus of refugees from East to West, which was both a great embarrassment for the Communists and a serious drain on the East German labor supply. To stop the flow, East Germany gave the division of the city a grimly physical form in Aug., 1961, by erecting the 29-mi (47-km) fortified Berlin Wall along the partition line, leaving only a few closely guarded crossing points.

The Western powers protested vigorously but ineffectively, and East German border guards killed dozens of persons attempting to break through the barrier. War seemed near as Soviet and American tanks faced each other at the border crossings, but after 1962 the crisis eased. In Dec., 1963, the first of several agreements was reached permitting West Berliners to visit relatives in the eastern zone. Visits across the wall and access to West Berlin from West Germany were finally regularized in the Berlin accords reached among the four powers and the two Germanys in 1972.


The tense stalemate in inter-German relations that persisted throughout most of the 1980s was dramatically broken as a result of the political upheavals that took place in East Germany in late 1989 and early 1990. Massive demonstrations in East Berlin and other East German cities led to the collapse of the Honecker regime and the dismantling of the Berlin Wall in Nov., 1989. In Oct., 1990, East and West Berlin were officially joined to form the state of Berlin, and the first city-wide elections in Berlin since 1946 were held in Dec., 1990. In June, 1991, the German Bundestag voted in favor of Berlin as the seat of the nation's legislature and government; Bonn, the capital of the former West Germany, served as the provisional seat of government until 1999, when most government functions were transferred to Berlin. In 1996 residents of Berlin voted to unite in a single state with surrounding Brandenburg, but the measure was rejected by Brandenburg voters.


See H. Vizetelly, Berlin under the New Empire (2 vol., 1879; repr. 1968); G. Masur, Imperial Berlin (1971); O. Friedrich, Before the Deluge (1986); G. Kirchhoff, ed., Views of Berlin (1989); B. Gwertzman and M. Kaufman, The Collapse of Communism (1990); A. Beevor, The Fall of Berlin 1945 (2002); M. Black, Death in Berlin: From Weimar to Divided Germany (2010); F. Kempe, Berlin 1961 (2011).

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Rock band

Berlin was one of the first bands to bring the synthesizer sound to the United States, recording a series of albums that placed the band at the center of the New Wave movement of the early to mid-1980s. The band reached critical mass in 1986 when "Take My Breath Away" became the pivotal track of the hit feature film Top Gun. With smooth synthesizers and Terri Nunn's sensual vocal style, the song introduced Berlin's New Wave style to millions of listeners. The relaxed ballad, however, only revealed one side of the band. "Sex (I'm A…)", Berlin's first hit, included controversial lyrics, and the band frequently wrote songs about the seedy underbelly of Los Angeles. Nunn's role as a seemingly willing sex symbol likewise invited controversy. Through both popularity and controversy, though, Berlin remained focused on the music itself.

Influenced by synthesizer-based bands such as Kraftwerk, in both England and Germany, John Crawford formed Berlin in 1979 in Orange County, California. Keyboardist David Diamond and singer Toni Childs joined bassist Crawford; later, Nunn (replacing Childs), keyboardist Matt Reid, guitarist Ric Olsen, and percussionist Rob Brill augmented the band. Before Berlin had gotten a proper start, however, Nunn departed for an acting career, and vocalist Virginia Macolinio temporarily joined the band. At this juncture Berlin issued its first single, "A Matter of Time," on I.R.S. Records. Nunn soon returned to the fold, however, and despite her inexperience, her voice and image would become central to the band's success. "They auditioned people, and answered my ad," Nunn told Chad Bowar at Suite:101. "I had no experience, but they answered it because I said I wanted something original. Berlin at that point was the most original thing in music."

Berlin issued the EP Pleasure Victim on Enigma in 1982, and the record's profile was automatically boosted when "Sex (I'm A …)" became an underground hit. The song was also controversial for its direct lyrics, and a number of radio stations refused to play the single. After Pleasure Victim began to sell, Geffen bought Berlin's contract from Enigma and reissued the album in 1983. "For us, that was huge, because they were small enough that we mattered," Nunn told Bowar. "They gave us a lot of attention, because they didn't have that many bands, and that made a huge difference to us." Pleasure Victim eventually rose to number 30 on the Pop Album charts in 1983, spawning three top 100 singles, "Sex (I'm A…)," "Masquerade," and "The Metro."

Berlin consciously built its image around lead singer Nunn, casting the former TV actor as a sex symbol. Nunn soon grew to resent the image, however, noting that the emphasis on her sexuality caused many critics to dismiss her talent or see her merely as a puppet for Crawford. Berlin followed Pleasure Victim with Love Life in 1984. The band successfully carried forward the themes and style of the first album, reaching number 28 on Billboard's Top 200 chart and scoring the group's biggest hit with "No More Words" (number 23 on the Billboard Hot 100).

Although 1986 would prove a banner year for Berlin, highlighted by the band's biggest hit, internal tensions would soon lead to the band's demise. "We were already having problems trying to figure out what to do with Berlin at that point," Nunn told Bowar. "We were on the third record, and it was a mess. We were fighting within the band, mainly John and me, because we were the partners in the band and the people around us kept changing." Ironically, on the verge of breaking up, Berlin issued Count Three and Pray, an album that found the band exploring new terrain. The band's change in direction, wrote Alex Henderson in All Music Guide, was "an artistic triumph but a commercial disappointment." Perhaps the oddest sign of change was a guest appearance by rock guitarist Ted Nugent on "Trash." But Count Three and Pray only climbed to number 61 on the Billboard 200.

Despite the album's commercial failure, one track on Count Three and Pray proved extremely successful. Giorgio Moroder had offered Berlin a chance to perform "Take My Breath Away" for the soundtrack of the motion picture Top Gun in 1986. "When we first heard the song, it was in such an early phase, and we didn't know anything about the movie," Crawford told Steve Korte in Star Hits magazine. "And to be perfectly honest, we did it because we needed a little bit of money." As the soundtrack reached Billboard's number one spot, "Take My Breath Away" rose to number three on the Adult Contemporary chart and number one on the Hot 100 chart. Ironically, a band that was on the verge of breaking up had the biggest hit of its career.

Berlin has been criticized for its crassness around issues of sexuality. Nunn appeared nude on the inside cover of the band's first album, and the band's lyrics—especially on its first two albums—explored the seedier side of California life. Others felt that critics of the band were only being prudish. "People wanted to minimize me as a person because I talked about sex that openly," Nunn told Mark Brown in the Buffalo News. Nonetheless, she realized that the band sometimes offered conflicting images. Asked by Charlie Mason in Synth and Salivation if she was pigeonholed as a "‘sex’ singer," Nunn replied: "Yes, but I dug my own grave on that one. I did things that I thought would be taken lightly, but they weren't." While Count Three and Pray attempted to take the band in a new direction, the album sold poorly, and shortly thereafter Nunn left the band.

Nunn and Crawford attempted to write new material as early as 1995 without success, leading Nunn to take control of Berlin's future in 1999. In 2000 Berlin released Live: Sacred and Profane, the group's first live recording. "Berlin Live: Sacred and Profane is a surprise treat from an unlikely concert attraction," wrote Doug Stone in All Music Guide. Berlin followed with Voyeur in 2002 and 4 Play in 2005. Speaking of the rebirth of the band in 2002, Nunn told Bowar: "This has been a golden age of this band for me. There were two golden ages: during the first and second record, and right now. … It's not easy to find a group of people who are equally committed, and get along, and … are happy with what they're doing and happy with each other. So when it happens, it's huge."

For the Record …

Members include: Rob Brill, drums; John Crawford (born c. 1960), bass, synthesizer; David Diamond, synthesizer; Terri Nunn (born c. 1961), vocals; Ric Olsen, guitar; Matt Reid, synthesizer.

Group formed in Orange County, California, 1979; issued single "A Matter of Time" on I.R.S. Records, 1980; released Pleasure Victim on Enigma Records, 1982; signed with Geffen Records, issued Love Life, 1984, and Count Three and Pray, 1986; re-formed under Terri Nunn, 1999, released Live: Sacred and Profane, 2000, Voyeur, 2002, and 4 Play, 2005.

Selected discography

Pleasure Victim, Enigma, 1982; reissued, Geffen, 1983.

Love Life, Geffen, 1984.

Count Three and Pray, Geffen, 1986.

Live: Sacred and Profane, Time Bomb, 2000.

Voyeur, Artist Direct, 2002.

4 Play, Majestic Recordings, 2005.



Buffalo News, July 25, 1996.


"Berlin," All Music Guide,, July 17, 2007.

"I Want to Be David Lee Roth," Berlin Page,, July 17, 2007 (article reprinted from Star Hits magazine, mid-1980s).

"Interview With Terri Nunn of Berlin," Suite 101,, July 17, 2007.

"New Wave Siren Terri Nunn Revamps Berlin for the Millennium," Synth and Salvation,, August 1999.

—Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.

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BERLIN. Berlin rose to prominence through its partnership with the Hohenzollern dynasty to become the center of their Brandenburg-Prussian lands and, later, capital of the Prussian-dominated Second Reich after 1871. The city's development benefited from its situation on the northeast bank of the Spree at the narrowest crossing over the river halfway between the castles of Spandau and Köpenick. Both these castles were eventually incorporated in the city, as was the nearby town of Cölln, on an island in the river that is now the district of Berlin-Mitte.

In the late Middle Ages, Berlin and Cölln felt threatened by mounting disorder in Brandenburg, particularly after the demise of the Ascanian dynasty in 1319. The two towns formed a defensive alliance in 1307 and collaborated with the Hohenzollerns, who became the new rulers of Brandenburg in 1415. Elector Frederick II (ruled 14401470) exploited internal divisions between the Berlin council and the guilds to assert his authority in 1442. A revolt known as the Berlin Indignation (14471448) failed to stem the growing Hohenzollern presence. The elector built the city palace on confiscated land 14431451 as his principal residence.

The Hohenzollerns introduced the Lutheran Reformation in 1539 with the help of the council, but seventy-five years later, most Berliners refused to follow the lead of Elector John Sigismund (ruled 16001620) and accept Calvinism (after 1613). The Calvinist minority in Berlin was swelled by the arrival of six thousand Huguenot refugees, welcomed from France by Frederick William, the Great Elector (ruled 16401688), after 1677. Jewish refugees also settled after 1670 but enjoyed fewer privileges than the Calvinists who became a thriving commercial community, numbering around a fifth of all Berliners by 1700. From six thousand inhabitants in 1450, Berlin's population had more than doubled by the time the Thirty Years' War came to Brandenburg in 1627. Imperial troops extorted money and supplies until displaced by the Swedes, who demanded the same. The departure of the elector and his family to Königsberg contributed to the economic depression, and the population fell to six thousand by 1648.

Recovery began under the Great Elector, who deliberately promoted Berlin as an economic and political center, particularly through the construction of the Oder-Spree canal in 16621669, which improved access to the Baltic. State-sponsored enterprises were established in and around the city, notably the Lagerhaus cloth factory, founded in 1714, which was Germany's largest textile mill, employing 5,000 workers. Other important enterprises included the arms factory in Spandau run by the Splittgerber and Daum consortium (which supplied the Prussian army with small arms), glass and porcelain factories, and the city's first steam engine in 1795; an iron works opened in 1804. The population rose rapidly, already numbering 57,000 by 1710, and reaching 172,000 by 1800, making Berlin one of Germany's largest cities. New suburbs were laid out in Friedrichswerder, Dorotheenstadt, and Friedrichstadt, while Berlin and Cölln were formally merged on 18 January 1709. However, Berliners suffered from price rises and economic fluctuations throughout the eighteenth century. Many enterprises depended heavily on state subsidy and a real industrial takeoff did not start until the 1830s. The fortifications were razed in 1734 and replaced by a 14 kmlong "tax wall" two years later to enforce collection of the excise imposed on goods entering and leaving the city. Though the remaining military installations were demolished after 1774, Berlin remained a garrison town. Soldiers and their dependants accounted for a fifth of all inhabitants throughout the eighteenth century, compared with under 3 percent in 1871. Wartime mobilization removed both customers and workers from the city's economy, as well as its defenders: Berlin was temporarily occupied by the Austrians and Russians in 1757 and 1760 during the Seven Years' War.

Elector Frederick III (ruled 16881713; king in Prussia as Frederick I, 17011713) embarked on an ambitious building program to make Berlin appear a worthy royal capital as part of his bid for a crown. The sculptor Andreas Schlüter (16591714) oversaw the construction of some of northern Germany's finest baroque buildings, including the Arsenal (1695) and the Charlottenburg palace (1705), while academies of arts (1696) and sciences (1700) were opened. This program faltered once the elector achieved his ambition in 1700 and stopped altogether under his son and successor, Frederick William I (ruled 17131740), who diverted money to expanding the army. War prevented the full implementation of Frederick II's (ruled 17401786) ambitious plans to remodel the city after 1740, but an opera house was built (17401743), along with St. Hedwig's Cathedral, the Royal Library, and Prince Henry's palace, which was converted into the Humboldt University in 1810. Later public buildings, including the Brandenburg Gate (17881791), reflected the influence of Greek neoclassicism and contributed to making Berlin one of Germany's most impressive capitals.

See also Brandenburg ; Frederick I (Prussia) ; Frederick II (Prussia) ; Frederick William (Brandenburg) ; Frederick William I (Prussia) ; Hohenzollern Dynasty ; Prussia.


Badstübner-Gröger, Sybille. Bibliographie zur Kunstgeschichte von Berlin und Potsdam. Berlin, 1968.

Badstübner-Gröger, Sybille, and Jutta von Simson. Berlin und die Mark Brandenburg: Kunstfahren zwischen Havel, Spree und Oder. Munich, 1991.

Neugebauer, Wolfgang. "Staatsverwaltung, Manufaktur und Garnison. Die polyfunktionale Residenzlandschaft von Berlin-Potsdam-Wusterhausen zur Zeit Friedrich Wilhelms I." Forschungen zur Brandenburg und Preussische Geschichte. New series 7 (1997): 233257.

Ribbe, Wolfgang, ed. Geschichte Berlins. 2 vols. Munich, 1987.

Schultz, Helga. Berlin 16501800: Sozialgeschichte einer Residenz. 2nd ed. Berlin, 1992.

Völkel, Markus. "The Hohenzollern Court 15351740." In The Princely Courts of Europe: Ritual, Politics, and Culture under the Ancien Régime 15001750, edited by John Adamson, pp. 210229. London, 1999.

Peter H. Wilson

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Berlin Capital of Germany, lying on the River Spree, in the ne of the country. Berlin was founded in the 13th century. It became the residence of the Hohenzollerns and the capital of Brandenburg, and later of Prussia. It rose to prominence in the 18th century as a manufacturing town and became the capital of the newly formed state of Germany in 1871. The city continued to expand, its importance reflecting Prussian dominance in the newly formed state. In the early 20th century Berlin was the second-largest city in Europe. Virtually destroyed at the end of World War II, the city was divided into four sectors; British, French, US and Soviet. On the formation of East Germany, the Soviet sector became East Berlin and the rest West Berlin. The Berlin Wall was erected in 1961 by the East Germans, and separated the two parts of the city until 1989. On the reunification of Germany in 1990, East and West Berlin were amalgamated. Buildings of note include the Brandenberg Gate, the ruins of Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, and the Victory Column in Tiergarten Park. Parts of the Berlin Wall remain as a monument. The city has two universities, a zoo, important museums and art galleries, a famous opera house, and is home to the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. Industries: chemicals and electronics. Pop. (1993) 3,466,000.

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Berlin Berlin airlift an operation by British and American aircraft to airlift food and supplies to Berlin in 1948–9, while Russian forces blockaded the city to isolate it from the West and terminate the joint Allied military government of the city. After the blockade was lifted the city was formally divided into two parts: West Berlin, comprising the American, British, and French sectors, later a state of the Federal Republic of Germany despite forming an enclave within the German Democratic Republic; and East Berlin, the sector of the city occupied by the USSR and later capital of the German Democratic Republic.
Berlin Wall a fortified and heavily guarded wall built in 1961 by the communist authorities on the boundary between East and West Berlin chiefly to curb the flow of East Germans to the West. Regarded as a symbol of the division of Europe into the communist countries of the East and the democracies of the West, it was opened in November 1989 after the collapse of the communist regime in East Germany and subsequently dismantled.

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Berlin (city, United States)

Berlin (bûr´lən, bərlĬn´), city (1990 pop. 11,824), Coos co., NE N.H., in the White Mts. at falls of the Androscoggin; settled late 1700s as Maynesborough, renamed 1829, inc. as a city 1897. In a heavily forested region, it was long a pulp and paper mill center, but the last mill closed in 2006; a logging museum is there. Fabricated metal products are produced, but health care, prisons, and other services are the main employers. Berlin, a winter sports center, has the first ski club organized (1872) in the United States. Nearby is White Mountain National Forest.

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Berlinagin, akin, begin, Berlin, bin, Boleyn, Bryn, chin, chin-chin, Corinne, din, fin, Finn, Flynn, gaijin, gin, Glyn, grin, Gwyn, herein, Ho Chi Minh, in, inn, Jin, jinn, kin, Kweilin, linn, Lynn, mandolin, mandoline, Min, no-win, pin, Pinyin, quin, shin, sin, skin, spin, therein, thin, Tientsin, tin, Tonkin, Turin, twin, underpin, Vietminh, violin, wherein, whin, whipper-in, win, within, Wynne, yin •weigh-in • lutein • lie-in • Samhain •Bowen, Cohen, Owen, throw-in •heroin, heroine •benzoin •bruin, ruin, shoo-in •Bedouin • Islwyn •genuine, Menuhin •cabin, Scriabin •Portakabin • sin bin • swingbin •bobbin, dobbin, robin •haemoglobin (US hemoglobin) •Reuben • dubbin • dustbin • Jacobin •kitchen, lichen •Cochin • urchin

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