Widest underground tunnel

Construction of the north-south tunnel

As early as 1934, the town planners and architects of the Third Reich were erecting large representative buildings whose basement floors exceeded all previous buildings in size. A typical example is the expansion of the Reichsbank with its three underground floors and the largest "safe" in Germany. Tempelhof Airport, at that time the largest building in the world, has an underground railway connection and more than 4.3 kilometers of accessible supply channels in which the entire infrastructure required by such a large-scale building is housed. In order to prepare Berlin for the 1936 Olympic Games in terms of traffic, construction of the north-south tunnel for the S-Bahn began in 1934. The new rulers can fall back on sophisticated plans from the 1920s for this major project. The implementation is also used extremely effectively for propaganda purposes, as thousands of workers are employed in one fell swoop, who more or less excavate the tunnel excavation by hand. Slogans like: "We owe the Fiihrer that we are building here" resplendent above the construction sites.
The construction is overshadowed by the worst accident in Berlin's civil engineering history. South of the Brandenburg Gate, directly in front of the old American embassy, ​​on August 20, 1935, the over 14 meter deep tunnel excavation collapsed over a length of over 50 meters. Dozens of construction workers are spilled through falling formwork, covers and wooden scaffolding. In the end, 19 of them can only be recovered dead. The cause of the accident is later determined to be the lack of stability of the construction pit bracing. But also the enormous deadline pressure due to the upcoming Olympics as well as short-term rescheduling of the tunnel for the redesign of Berlin should be seen as further causes. Even the lavish funeral service is under time pressure. The recovery of the dead is dragging on, only 17 of the 19 casualties can be laid out. The victims' families received compensation, but the promise to immortalize the names of the victims in "bronze letters" at Potsdamer Platz station was never kept. However, these efforts will come too late for the Olympic Games. The Potsdamer Platz S-Bahn station was not inaugurated until April 15, 1939, and the north-south tunnel was fully commissioned just under six months later.