1945 - 1994

The arrival of the Americans in 1945

General Lucius Clay (right) with guests at an event in the Goethe Auditorium, 1948. Zoom Image
General Lucius Clay (right) with guests at an event in the Goethe Auditorium, 1948.

In mid-July 1945, US troops confiscated Harnack House which had initially been occupied by the Red Army at the end of the war. The Americans found an intact building that lent itself to use as a hotel and set up their officers’ club there. South-west Berlin was under the Allied control of the USA which established its headquarters near to Harnack House. From that point on Harnack House represented a piece of America in Berlin and contributed to German-American relations. Instead of scientists, members of the Berlin Brigade were now regular lunchtime guests here and also attended events and festivities.

Carrying on the tradition, Harnack House also continued to host social events in the 1950s. General Lucius Clay, military governor of the US occupied zone in Germany from 1945 to 1947, held press conferences and receptions at Harnack House. Harry S. Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower visited the building shortly after its confiscation. sk

Berlin events, such as those held as part of the Berlin Film Festival, also took place here during the 1950s, presumably due to the lack of venues available in a city that had suffered extensive destruction.

The academic tradition was also continued for a period as organizations such as the Columbus Society held parties and balls for American students visiting Berlin on guest residencies. When Kirk L. Grayson, the Vice President of Columbia University, visited Berlin in 1952, he met the Dahlem-based Nobel Prize winners Max von Laue and Otto Warburg, both of whom had strong research ties with the United States, at Harnack House. Their Institutes, which previously belonged to the Kaiser Wilhelm Society, were incorporated into the Max Planck Society a year later.

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