History of Berlin's Zoological Garden
Berlin’s zoo is the oldest and best known in Germany. It is, and always was, the pride of Berliners.
The complex spans 84 acres in the center of the city. The zoo includes a large house for exotic birds and also an aquarium.
The zoo was greatly damaged during World War 2. A majority of the buildings was leveled and almost the entire infrastructure destroyed. Of the 3,715 animals only 91 survived.
Great care is taken to keep and display animals in their natural habitats. These conditions greatly contribute to the success of breeding some rare species.
Today the zoo features a varieties of species, some of them extremely rare, that is unmatched in the world. It is the most visited zoo in Europe.
Europe was devastated by years of conflict during World War II. Millions of people had been killed or wounded. Industrial and residential centers in England, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Belgium and elsewhere lay in ruins. Much of Europe was on the brink of famine as agricultural production had been disrupted by war. Transportation infrastructure was in shambles. The only major power in the world that was not significantly damaged was the United States.
From 1945 through 1947, the United States was already assisting European economic recovery with direct financial aid. The newly formed United Nations was providing humanitarian assistance. In January 1947, U. S. President Harry Truman appointed George Marshall, the architect of victory during WWII, to be Secretary of State.
In just a few months, State Department leadership under Marshall with expertise provided by George Kennan, William Clayton and others crafted the Marshall Plan concept.
Officially known as the European Recovery Program (ERP), the Marshall Plan was intended to rebuild the economies and spirits of Western Europe, primarily. Marshall was convinced the key to restoration of political stability lay in the revitalization of national economies. Further he saw political stability in Western Europe as a key to blunting the advances of communism in that region.
The European Recovery Program
Sixteen nations, including Germany, became part of the program and shaped the assistance they required, state by state, with administrative and technical assistance provided through the Economic Cooperation Administration (ECA) of the United States. European nations received nearly $13 billion in aid, which initially resulted in shipments of food, staples, fuel and machinery from the United States.
The ERP addressed each of the obstacles to postwar recovery. The plan looked to the future, and did not focus on the destruction caused by the war. Much more important were efforts to modernize European industrial and business practices using high-efficiency American models, reduce artificial trade barriers, and instill a sense of hope and self-reliance.
By 1952 as the funding ended, the economy of every participant state had surpassed pre-war levels; for all Marshall Plan recipients, output in 1951 was at least 35% higher than in 1938.
Over the next two decades, Western Europe enjoyed unprecedented growth and prosperity. Belgian economic historian Herman Van der Wee concludes the Marshall Plan was a "great success."
Our house in Berlin was the recipient of Marshall Plan funds in 1952, the very end of the program. The burned out fifth and sixth floors were rebuilt. The roof, patched after a fire during the war and leaking during stroms, was replaced.