Berlin, capital of the German Empire and of the Kingdom of Prussia, and residence of the German Emperor and Prussian, King. It is situated in the heart of the Mark of Brandenburg, on both sides of the Spree above its entrance into the Havel. The city covers an area of 24i sq. miles and had, December 1, 1905, 2,040,148 inhabitants, not including the population of the suburbs which are virtually parts of the city. Of the inhabitants of Berlin 223,948 are Catholics; 1,695,251 are Protestants; 98,893 Jews, and 22,056 belong to other denominations.
HISTORY.—The present city of Berlin has grown out of two settlements of the Wends: Kolln, lying on an island in the Spree, and Berlin, opposite, on the right bank of the Spree. Kolln is mentioned for the first time in an official document dated 1237; Berlin, in 1244. Even at this date both places possessed the rights of Brandenburgian cities, but were not equal in importance to other cities of the Mark. A number of old churches, which are still among the most important ones of the city, testify to the active religious life prevalent at this early date, as: the church of St. Mary, erected at the end of the thirteenth century; the church of St. Nicholas; the church of the Grey Monastery (Kirche des grauen Klosters), a Gothic edifice built at the end of the thirteenth century. Altogether there were about eighteen church-buildings in Berlin before the Reformation. It was not until the two towns were united into one community, in 1307, that the place grew to be of some importance. In the tumultuous times which prevailed in the Mark of Brandenburg during the fourteenth century, Berlin and Frankfort-on-the-Oder became the leaders of the confederation of the cities against the nobles, and joined the Hanseatic League. When the Emperor Charles IV obtained the Mark from the house of Wittelsbach, Berlin rose against him, but was defeated and compelled to open its gates to the emperor. Berlin paid an unwilling obedience to Frederick I of Hohenzollern who made his entry into the city in 1415. When the Elector Frederick II again separated the two cities and erected a fortified castle between Berlin and Kolln, on the site of the present royal residence, the inhabitants, under the leadership of Bernd Ryke, revolted, stormed the house in which the elector was accustomed to live when in Berlin, and destroyed the public records. Frederick conquered the rebels and took from the city its jurisdiction and other privileges. In 1451 the castle was completed; Elector John Cicero chose it for his usual residence, which greatly increased the importance of Berlin. The Reformation found ready acceptance in Berlin, and after the death of the Elector Joachim I (see Brandenburg) it triumphed over the old Faith. The nobility living in the neighborhood of Berlin accepted the new doctrine at Teltow, April, 1539, and the Elector Joachim II, in the same year, followed their example. On the 2d of November the first celebration of the Lord’s Supper according to the Lutheran Rite took place at Berlin in the Dominican church, which was later transformed into a Protestant cathedral. In 1540 the new church ritual for the Mark was settled and printed at Berlin. The Reformation in a short time gained a complete ascendancy, the monasteries were suppressed, and the Franciscan Father Petrus (d. 1571) was the last Catholic priest in Berlin until the coming of the Dominicans about one hundred and fifty years later.
The city suffered greatly during the Thirty Years War, its population sinking to 4,000 in consequence of a plague. It slowly recovered from the injuries inflicted by this war during the reign of Frederick William, the Great Elector, grew in size, and was surrounded by new fortifications. Immigrants from the Low Countries and French Huguenots, who brought many branches of industry with them, raised the number of inhabitants to 20,000. Frederick I made Berlin the royal residence and adorned it with many fine buildings, the most famous architect and sculptor of the time being Schluter. In 1709 Frederick introduced a common government for the five divisions of the city which had gradually grown up. In 1696 he founded the Academy of Fine Arts, and in 1700 the Academy of Sciences, of which Leibnitz was the first president. Berlin suffered greatly during the Seven Years War, in the course of which it was seized and plundered in 1757 by the Austrians, and in 1760 by the Russians; but under the wise rule of Frederick the Great (Frederick II) it rapidly recovered from the damage done to it and became an important center of commerce, industry, and intellectual life. The number of inhabitants increased to 115,000. Frederick William II also spent large sums of money in beautifying the royal city. Under Frederick William III there was a temporary check to its development during the era of the Napoleonic ascendancy. In 1808 the city acquired the right of self-government to a limited degree, and in 1809 the University of Berlin was founded. During the long period of peace which followed the downfall of Napoleon a new development of the city began and its artistic embellishment by Schinkel, Rauch, Schadow, and others made rapid progress. In 1838 the first railway, from Berlin to Potsdam, was opened; the railway traffic increased the industrial importance of the city, and in 1844 the first large industrial exhibition of the German States belonging to the customs-union was held here. On the 15th of March, 1848, a revolution broke out; more than 1,000 barricades were erected, and encounters between the soldiers and the populace occurred; on the 18th of March a bloody struggle took place in the streets of Berlin in which the soldiers were victorious, but they afterwards withdrew from the city at the order of the king. In 1871 Berlin became the capital of the new German Empire. From June 13 to July 13, 1878, were held the sessions of the Berlin Congress; since this date Berlin has developed into a great metropolis; it has become the most important industrial city of the European continent, the most important railway center, and one of the chief commercial cities of the empire.
For about one hundred and fifty years after the Reformation Catholicism was suppressed in Berlin; public Catholic church services were forbidden; Mass could be said only in the private chapels of the Catholic embassies. As late as 1653 the elector was obliged to promise the Protestant diet that he would not allow private or public Catholic church services. In order to be able to raise troops more easily in Catholic districts Frederick William I in 1720 gave the first permission for the holding of public Catholic services in a private house in Berlin; soon after this the first Catholic chapel was fitted up. The pastoral care was exercised by Dominicans from Halberstadt; the saintly Father Bruhns being particularly successful in his labors. The conquest of Catholic Silesia by Frederick the Great drew many Catholics to Berlin, and the church of St. Hedwig was built for the Catholic community (1747-73), Frederick the Great giving the ground. He also built a small church at the home for disabled soldiers, for the Catholic pensioners. The addition of large Catholic territories in consequence of the partition of Poland, the secularization of 1802-03, and that of 1815 by the Vienna Congress likewise increased the number of Catholics in Berlin, but it was not until 1848 that they obtained more freedom. Since then the growth of the Catholic population has kept pace with the development of the municipality. Under Frederick the Great the Catholic population was about 5,000 in 107,000 inhabitants; in 1817 there were 186,570 Protestants to 6,157 Catholics; in 1843, 16,453 Catholics to 328,253 Protestants; 1853, 19,075 Catholics; 1871, 51,517; 1885, 99,579; 1900, 188,440 Catholics in Berlin proper. Church buildings did not increase in the same ratio, and the need of more edifices grew continually greater. With the aid of the whole of Catholic Germany a number of Catholic churches was erected in the decade beginning with 1890 to meet this want, but the construction of new church buildings, especially in the rapidly growing environs and suburbs of Berlin is still one of the most imperative needs of Catholicism in the capital of the German Empire.
STATISTICS.—Ecclesiastically, Berlin belongs to the Delegation of the Mark of Brandenburg, which is under a delegate of the Prince-Bishop of Breslau; the delegate is the Provost of St. Hedwig’s in Berlin. The Archipresbyterate of Berlin embraces the city of Berlin with the exception of a small part of Friedrichsberg (2,686 Catholics), and includes also the suburbs called Treptow, Stralau, Schonberg, and a part of Charlottenburg (as far as the parish of St. Matthias); the Catholics in the presbyterate numbered in 1907, 239,666, of whom 221,262 lived in Berlin proper. The other suburbs, both large and small, belong to the Archipresbyterate of Charlottenburg. In 1907 the Catholic clergy of Berlin consisted of 13 clergy of higher rank (the provost, 7 parish priests, and 5 military chaplains), 31 assistant clergy, 7 priests in other positions, and 15 living in community—altogether 66 priests, of whom 26 do not come from the Diocese of Breslau. The archipresbyterate is divided for the cure of souls into 14 districts composed of 8 parishes and 6 vicariates; in 1907 another vicariate was in process of erection. The Catholic soldiers are formed into 5 church communities or parishes; Berlin is also the seat of the Catholic field-provostship for the Prussian army and the imperial navy. In 1907 Berlin had 8 Catholic parish churches and 18 chapels where public church services were held; these with the private chapels made 31 church edifices; 1 church building and 1 chapel were then in process of construction. With the exception of the church of St. Hedwig and the church in the home for invalided soldiers, all of the Catholic church buildings of Berlin were erected in more recent times. The principal churches are: St. Hedwig (1747-73—see above); in the style of the Pantheon at Rome; St. Michael, the first Catholic garrison-church of Berlin (1851-61) in early Renaissance style; St. Sebastian, the largest Catholic church of Berlin 1890-93) in Gothic style, tower 269 feet high; St. Paul, a Dominican church (1892-93) in Gothic style; St. Matthew, a Gothic building (1893-95), tower 302 feet high; St. Pius (1893-94), rather tasteless Gothic; St. John, the second Catholic garrison church and one of the largest church buildings of Berlin (1894-97), in Romanesque style; church of the Heart of Jesus (Herz-Jesukirche), Romanesque style (1897-98).
SCHOOLS. There has been no public Catholic higher school for boys in Berlin since the struggle between the Catholic Church and the State (Kulturkampf) swept away the Catholic Progymnasium; there is, however, a private higher school for boys with about 130 pupils. The Catholic boys who attend the state and city high-schools are divided, for purposes of religious instruction, into twelve groups of four sections each. There are 3 higher Catholic schools for girls; two of these prepare teachers, and one is conducted by the Ursulines and includes a conservatory of music. There are 30 Catholic schools for primary instruction, attended by over 20,000 Catholic children, namely the parish school of St. Hedwig and 29 Catholic town-district schools.
ORDERS, CONGREGATIONS, AND CHARITABLE INSTITUTIONS.—The male orders in Berlin are: Dominicans, 1 house with 10 priests and 7 brothers; the Poor Brothers of St. Francis, 1 house with 17 brothers who carry on an orphan asylum for boys. The female orders and congregations in Berlin proper had, in 1907, 18 houses and 387 inmates: the Ursulines. a house with 37 inmates, carry on a boarding-school for girls, a higher school for girls united to a private seminary for teachers and a conservatory of music; the Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo, a house with 56 Sisters, have charge of St. Hedwig’s hospital, which has an average of 530 patients and 160 convalescents; Dominican nuns, 4 houses with 95 sisters, carry on the St. Katharine Home, which includes a day-nursery and home for women servants, the St. Antonius Home, which includes a kindergarten and nursery for small children, a home for women servants, and an institution of visiting nurses for the sick and poor, the Maria-Victoria Sanatorium, a hospital and institution for visiting-nurses for the sick and poor, and the St. Vincent Ferrer Home, a dispensary and home of nurses for the sick and poor and a home for women servants; the Grey Sisters, 7 houses with 137 sisters, have in charge 4 dispensaries and homes for visiting-nurses, St. Joseph’s Hospital, and the St. Afra Home, which includes a rescue and orphan asylum, a home for women servants, and a creche; these sisters are also the nurses in 2 garrison hospitals. The Sisters of St. Mary, 58 sisters in 4 houses, 1 of which is in Berlin-Rixdorf, conduct the Hospital of St. Mary, 3 homes for visiting-nurses, and a house-keeping and needlework school combined with a kindergarten. The Sisters of St. Joseph, 13 sisters in 1 house, conduct a hospice or boarding-home for single women and young girls, a boarding-school where housekeeping is taught, and a house for retreats. St. Joseph’s Orphan Asylum, housing 200 children, is conducted by ladies, not professed religious, who lead a kind of conventual life. Taking these and other Catholic institutions together, there are in Berlin proper 4 Catholic hospitals, 12 dispensaries and homes for visiting-nurses, 4 institutions for convalescents, 3 institutions for the care of small children, 9 day-nurseries, 5 homes for children of school-age, 3 hospices for young men, 6 hospices, or boarding-homes, for ladies—for self-supporting women who are bookkeepers, telephone employees, and the like—8 homes for girls who are out of employment, 7 housekeeping and needlework schools, 3 orphan asylums and institutions for first communicants, 1 rescue home for girls.
ASSOCIATIONS.—There is much activity among the Catholic societies of Berlin. In 1907 the religious associations were: 21 brotherhoods and confraternities of the Rosary; 9 societies of the Childhood of Jesus; 8 societies of Christian mothers; 7 confraternities of the Holy Family; 7 altar societies for the making of vestments; 11 St. Charles Borromeo societies; 9 societies for collecting funds, especially for the Boniface associations; 12 sodalities of the B. V. M., 10 youths’ or St. Aloysius sodalities. Among the local charitable associations are: the Catholic charity organization of Berlin and its suburbs, an association of all the Catholic benevolent institutions, endowments, and societies of Berlin and its environs; Societies of St. Vincent de Paul, including 16 conferences for men and 16 conferences for women; the St. Hedwig’s women’s association; the society of the B. V. M. for the protection of girls; 4 societies for the care of lying-in women; the Catholic burial association; the society for the care of the Catholic deaf and dumb of Berlin, its environs, and the whole delegature. The most important associations in connection with the various callings are: the Catholic Journeymen’s Union, having a building of its own; the Catholic Apprentices’ Union; the Master-Workmen’s Union; 13 Catholic workmen’s unions, with about 2800 working-men members, which belong to the district organization for Berlin; 11 associations, having 1500 members, which belong to the Berlin district organization, and are composed of working women, unmarried, and married women; the unions of the organized Catholic Workingmen’s associations (28); the Christian unions, 32 groups with over 4000 workingmen members; the Catholic business men’s society with 400 members; 2 soeieties of Catholic male and female teachers; 9 associations of Catholic students; 2 Philister societies. Among the political associations should be named: the People’s Union of Catholic Germany with about 4000 members; 13 organized groups in Berlin proper of the center Party; the Windthorst Union. Besides these there are some 20 singing, and church-choir, societies, and about 25 social societies. The most important of the 6 Catholic papers are: “The Germania”, and the “Markische Zeitung”.