Through the Lion Gate: A History of the Berlin Zoo

ISBN : 9780190234980

Gary Bruce
320 ページ
156 x 235 mm

In 1943, fierce aerial bombardment razed the Berlin zoo and killed most of its animals. But only two months after the war's end, Berliners had already resurrected it, reopening its gates and creating a symbol of endurance in the heart of a shattered city. As this episode shows, the Berlin zoo offers one of the most unusual-yet utterly compelling-lenses through which to view German history. This enormously popular attraction closely mirrored each of the political systems under which it existed: the authoritarian monarchy of the kaiser, the Weimar Republic, Nazi Germany, and the post-1945 democratic and communist states. Gary Bruce provides the first English-language history of the Berlin zoo, from its founding in 1844 until the 1990 unification of the West Berlin and East Berlin zoos. At the center of the capital's social life, the Berlin zoo helped to shape German views not only of the animal world but also of the human world for more than 150 years. Given its enormous reach, the German government used the zoo to spread its political message, from the ethnographic display of Africans, Inuit, and other "exotic" peoples in the late nineteenth century to the Nazis' bizarre attempts to breed back long-extinct European cattle. By exploring the intersection of zoology, politics, and leisure, Bruce shows why the Berlin zoo was the most beloved institution in Germany for so long: it allowed people to dream of another place, far away from an often grim reality. It is not purely coincidence that the profound connection of Berliners to their zoo intensified through the bloody twentieth century. Its exotic, iconic animals-including Rostom the elephant, Knautschke the hippo, and Evi the sun bear-seemed to satisfy, even partially, a longing for a better, more tranquil world.


Chapter 1: Out from the Island of Peacocks
Chapter 2: The Human Zoo
Chapter 3: To the Zoo! Animals and Society in the Imperial Capital
Chapter 4: An End to the Sighing of the Animals
Chapter 5: The Nazi Ox: The Berlin Zoo and Nazism
Chapter 6: Animals among the Beasts: The Zoo Descends into War
Chapter 7: The Hippo and the Panda: A Tale of Two Zoos
Epilogue: Of Trams and Tortoises


Gary Bruce is Professor of History at the University of Waterloo. Winner of a distinguished teacher award, he is the author of The Firm: The Inside Story of the Stasi and of numerous articles on modern German history.