The Kronprinzenpalais (English: Crown Prince’s Palace) is a former Royal Prussian residence on Unter den Linden boulevard in the historic centre of Berlin. It was built in 1663 and renovated in 1857 according to plans by Heinrich Strack in Neoclassical style. From 1919 to 1937, it was home to the modern art collection of the National Gallery. Damaged during the Allied bombing in World War II, the Kronprinzenpalais was rebuilt from 1968 to 1970 by Richard Paulick as part of the Forum Fridericianum. In 1990, the German Reunification Treaty was signed in the listed building. Since then, it has been used for events and exhibitions.
After the “Nazis” came to power in 1933, there was an initial period of tolerance of modern art, but then Hitler ordered the galleries to be “cleansed” of it, in particular the Kronprinzenpalais. In May 1936, works from the Ismar Littmann collection of Expressionist art which had been confiscated by the Gestapo from a Berlin auction house were burnt in the furnace. Eberhard Hanfstaengl, the then director of the National Gallery, was ordered to set aside only a few “historically valuable” works and saved five paintings and ten drawings. The Expressionist gallery was closed in October 1936, after the Berlin Olympics had ended, as a “hotbed of cultural Bolshevism“.
In the 1937 “Nazi” operation against Entartete Kunst (degenerate art), the National Gallery lost a total of 435 works. The Kronprinzenpalais contributed far more works than any other institution to the exhibition by that name which opened in Munich on 19 July. The majority of the Expressionist works were officially labelled Verfallskunst (art of decay) the same month. National Gallery Director Justi had been forced out in the 1933 purge of ideologically suspect academics and civil servants; his successor, Alois Schardt, was forced to resign after Bernhard Rust, the “Nazi” Minister of Education for Prussia, who had responsibility for museums, visited the modern art gallery; he was in turn succeeded by Hanfstaengl, who was also forced to resign after refusing to meet with Adolf Ziegler and his commission charged with identifying and removing the “degenerate” artworks. The commission made two “cleansing” visits to the Kronprinzenpalais: on 7 July before the exhibition opened and again in August. Some members of the commission were at first reluctant to purge the works of August Macke and Franz Marc, both of whom had died fighting in the First World War; they were ultimately also removed, but works by Marc including Tower of Blue Horses were removed from the Entartete Kunst exhibition before it moved from Munich to Berlin. The National Gallery was compensated RM 150,000 for The Garden of Daubigny by Van Gogh and RM 15,000 for four paintings by Paul Signac and Edvard Munch by Göring, who took a group of 13 modern paintings to offer them privately for sale through an art dealer he knew, and roughly one sixth of its total loss of over RM 1 million after the official auctions of “degenerate art” in Switzerland.
Later in 1937, the building became the seat of the Prussian Academy of Arts, whose building in Pariser Platz had been requisitioned by Albert Speer‘s office. The Director of the Schauspielhaus theatre in the Gendarmenmarkt, Gustaf Gründgens, also temporarily had his office in the building.
In March 1945, the Kronprinzenpalais was gutted in an Allied bomb attack. Until 1958, a ballet school used a remaining rear section, but the site was entirely cleared in 1961.
Read about WWII here