The name Potsdam is probably most closely associated with the conference held there in the summer of 1945 during the closing stages of the 2nd World War. The leaders of the United States (Truman), the Soviet Union (Stalin) and Great Britain (Churchill then later Attlee) met to work out the future of Europe post war and also the surrender of Japan.
In very simple terms it set the stage for the division of Europe and the Cold War. Since it would take a thesis to write all about that, there is an interesting link here for background reading!
The setting for this important political gathering was the slightly incongruous Cecilienhof Palace, which looks more like an English Tudor mansion than a Hohenzollern Palace.
It was chosen as it had been virtually undamaged by the bombing that had ravaged Berlin and the industrial areas of Potsdam. In fact it was the last Hohenzollern palace ever built and was constructed between 1914 and 1917 for Crown Prince William and his wife Cecilie von Mecklenburg-Schwerin – hence the name “Cecilienhof”.
Part of the large complex of palaces and parks that make up the UNESCO World Heritage site in Potsdam, the Cecilienhof sits at the northern end of the Neuer Garten (New Garden). Designed by architect Paul Schultze-Naumburg it was created on the lines of an English country house in a Tudor style (I guess the German royal family did have a lot of English relatives?). Now a museum, you can visit the conference room and see the rooms where all the discussions and work took place.
Unfortunately we only had time to breeze in and out of the palace gardens so have yet to go round the museum. It was also rather crowded (not surprisingly) so many of my photos have “gatecrashers”!
The surrounding gardens and parkland are definitely not to be missed – more to follow next week to conclude the Potsdam series of posts!
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