In the western district of Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf, Berlin, sits a strikingly modern building. Its facade is dominated by large windows and smooth concrete walls, typical of its post-war modern architectural style. Inside, spacious gallery rooms and curvilinear structural details easily transport visitors to the midcentury space age.
The George-C.-Marshall-Haus was built in 1950 as the U.S. exhibition pavilion for the German Industrial Exhibition. This was the first major exhibition held after World War II, and the bomb crater-filled fields had to be filled and built upon as fast as possible. Within 85 days, construction crews erected five exhibition halls, restoring 75% of the pre-war exhibition space. The Marshall-Haus was part of this record-breaking construction project: its foundation was laid on June 18, 1950, and it was completed on September 30, 1950, only 105 days later.
Architect Bruno Grimmek and his assistant Werner Düttmann designed the building. Their client, the American Allied High Commission, used funds from the European Recovery Program (Marshall Plan) to pay for construction. Upon its opening on October 1st, the building was appropriately named in honor of former Secretary of State George C. Marshall.
Following the exhibition, the Marshall-Haus fell out of use, and thus into disrepair. Talks of its demolition circulated for years. Luckily in 1988, the building was listed as a historic monument and became nationally protected. Restoration efforts began in 2007 to reuse the building for the 2008 International Radio Exhibition. Today, the Marshall-Haus is still used as an event venue and is perpetually protected by the German government.
Several other structures in Germany are named in memory of Gen. Marshall. These include:
- George-Marshall-Straße in Wiesbaden
- George C.-Marshall-Ring in Oberursel
- George-C.-Marshall-Brücke in Berlin
- George-Marshall-Platz in Erlangen
Cody Youngblood is a graduate student in historic building conservation at the University of York and a lifelong Marshall researcher. Follow his adventures @young_preservationist.