A Kaiserbahnhof in Halbe
Author(s): Peter Macky
In 1865 the first train station building for Prussia's royal family, the Hohenzollerns, was built for their exclusive use in the little town of Halbe in Germany's Spreewald. The area, 60 km south of Berlin, was well known to the family, having been utilised by its illustrious members for their court hunts ('Hofjagd') in the surrounding areas since at least 1717. The building, originally known as a Royal Reception Building and, since German Unification in 1871, as a Kaiserbahnhof, was used by all three Kaisers, Kaiser Wilhelm I, his son Kaiser Frederick III and his grandson, Kaiser Wilhelm II. With the last Kaiser's abdication in 1918, the building was soon adapted to support German Railways, and for a time (when it was likely to have been stretched to its capacity) during the opening weeks of Operation Barbarossa, Nazi Germany's audacious invasion of Soviet Russia in 1941. Following the re-unification of West and East Germany in1991, the building was abandoned and left to the elements, suffering the ravages of neglect, water ingress, rising damp, mushroom mould and dry rot. Having survived two World Wars, revolutions and the partition of Germany, when so much else was destroyed, the Kaiserbahnhof, the imperial train station building, was again at risk of being lost. It was in 2009, with the building in disrepair and its future precarious, that it fell under the spell of author and amateur historian Peter Macky, who happened to be cycling in the district. He was hooked, and following its purchase in 2010, he set about its restoration. This book is about his ten-year labour of love: and his challenges, successes and mistakes along the way. It is also about the many men and women who have helped him and conversely, those who have been less helpful. Ultimately, it is an absorbing story of a building with a long, fascinating pedigree, of its original and very colourful promoter, its famous architect and its astonishing history. It is a testament to Peter's vision to ensure that the building would once again shine as a 'little jewel box'; and, despite some very testing times, the outstanding result bears witness to his tenacity and determination. It is a marvellous story, beautifully illustrated and documented.
The topic of this book, the purchase and restoration of the Kaiser's railway station, has been the subject of many newspaper and magazine articles, in both Germany and New Zealand. See for example: https://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/homed/latest/107510114/kiwi-transforming-kaisers-historic-train-station-south-of-berlin; https://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/new-zealander-wins-award-for-kaiserbahnhof-german-railway-station-restoration/; https://www.nzherald.co.nz/lifestyle/at-home-the-station-master/; http://www.slowtravelberlin.com/restoring-halbes-kaiserbahnhof/; https://www.baunetz-architekten.de/zappe-architekten/3394029/projekt/5224702.
Winner of Brandenburgischen Denkmalpflegepreis 2020.
Review: "This is a story about making a difference...years of planning, discussing, contracting, reviewing, re-birthing a wonderful piece of architecture. The restoration of the Kaiserbahnhof has preserved something majestic in its own right. In doing so, of course, Peter has also contributed to preserving part of Germany's extraordinary history - a history which is as multi-layered as it is absorbing: unification, monarchic-rule and the First World War, abdication, near open-revolution, the Weimar Republic, Hitler's Third Reich and the Second World War, a divided Germany which in the early 1960s was seen as the No 1 'flashpoint' for potential global conflict, to today's united Germany with all the hallmarks of being a good country and a country good for the world.": HE Rupert Holborow, NZ Ambassador in Germany.
- : 9780473515775
- : Livadia Publishers Limited
- : Livadia Publishers Limited
- : books
- : Peter Macky