100 Years Ago Today – January 15, 1919 – Rosa Luxemburg & Karl Liebknecht Arrested and Murdered

The abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II marked the end of five centuries of Hohenzollern rule in Berlin and nearly four decades of Prussian imperialistic rule

With the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II and thus the collapse of the German Empire at the end of WWI, revolution broke out everywhere and political movements on both the left and right erupted like a stick of dynamite throughout Germany.

Amid the chaos, violence, power struggles and the possibility of new opportunities, one of the key democratic institutions of the German Revolution of 1918-1919 was the establishment of the council – which had been popular organizations first invented in the Russian revolutions of 1905 and 1917. Like Germany at the onset of January 1919, the councils were a sign of desperate conditions and a search for new forms of political representation in the age of high industrialization and total war. There would be sailors councils, workers councils, workers and soldiers councils, and even councils organized by artists and by agricultural workers.

SPD leader Philipp Scheidemann proclaiming a German republic from a west window of the Reichstag in Berlin on 9 November 1918

Their activities were often confused and chaotic – their politics rudimentary – but they were everywhere, and they were a grassroots form of democracy that allowed a wider range of political participation that was addressed in a broader range of issues that had ever existed in Germany before.

And out of this fray of dramatic change and political uncertainty rose the voices of Social Democratic Party leader Philipp Scheidemann, and famed radical socialist antiwar activist, Karl Liebknecht, as well as his co-leader, Rosa Luxemburg.

Scheidemann, acting on behalf of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), had proclaimed a German republic from the window of Berlin’s Reichstag building at the end of WWI, which would establish democracy for the first time in Germany’s history with the founding of the so-called Weimar Republic. Meanwhile, just just blocks away, Liebknecht proclaimed a socialist republic from the window of the Berlin city palace, which had just been the dynastic seat of the Prince Electors of the Holy Roman Empire, Prussian kings and German emperors of the House of Hohenzollern for centuries.

Spartacist leaders and KPD pioneers, Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht

Luxemburg and Liebknecht had previously founded and led the Spartacist League – a Marxist revolutionary movement established toward the end of WWI which would lay the roots of the establishment of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) on January 1, 1919.

Luxemburg’s and Liebknecht’s chief aim was simple: They believed that power and wealth should be shared equally among the population. The KPD would quickly refuse to participate in the parliamentary elections, preferring instead to place its faith in the workers’ councils, as expressed in the former Spartacist manifesto:

The question today is not democracy or dictatorship. The question that history has put on the agenda reads: Bourgeois democracy or socialist democracy? For the dictatorship of the proletariat is democracy in the socialist sense of the word. Dictatorship of the proletariat does not mean bombs, putsches, riots and anarchy, as the agents of capitalist profits deliberately and falsely claim. Rather, it means using all instruments of political power to achieve socialism, to expropriate – dispossess of property – the capitalist class through and in accordance with the will of the revolutionary majority of the proletariat.
Spartacist militia in the streets of Berlin

In short, Germany’s post-war revolution fostered two perceivable paths forward: Social democracy or a council republic – with the latter being similar to the one which had been established by the Bolsheviks in Russia.

In the first week of January in 1919, Liebknecht and Luxemburg decided that the SPD led, young republic was tenuous and vulnerable enough to challenge, so they launched an armed rising in Berlin with the the aim of overthrowing the provisional government and creating a soviet republic.

“Today we can seriously set about destroying capitalism once and for all. Nay, more; not merely are we today in a position to perform this task, nor merely is its performance a duty toward the proletariat, but our solution offers the only means of saving human society from destruction” – Rosa Luxemburg

On 5 January, their movement occupied public buildings, called for a general strike and formed a revolutionary committee. They denounced the SPD led provisional government and the forthcoming elections. A few days of savage street fighting took place as workers with rifles haphazardly swarmed the streets of Berlin.

With the model of Lenin’s Bolshevik Revolution in Russia happening before their eyes, the mainstream Social Democrats feared that the revolutionaries might institute the kind of ‘red terror’ that was now taking place in Russia. According to historian Richard J. Evans:

“Afraid for their lives, and conscious of the need to prevent the country from falling into complete anarchy, the SPD sanctioned the recruitment of heavily armed paramilitary bands consisting of a mixture of younger men, and known as the Free Corps (Freikorps), to put down any further revolutionary uprisings.”
Memorial tablet dedicated to Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht outside of Mannheimerstraße 27 today

Significantly outnumbering the Spartacists and having the backing of the republic, the Free Corps came storming into to Berlin to suppress the uprising.

Liebknecht and Luxemburg retreated for their lives and escaped to an inconspicuous neighborhood apartment building at Mannheimerstraße 43 (today Mannheimerstraße 27) in the heart of Berlin’s Wilmersdorf district.

After laying low for a couple days, it was on this day – January 15, 1919 – that Wilmersdorfer Bürgerwehr (vigilance committee) members Bruno Lindner and Wilhlem Moering – along with three others – arrived at Mannheimerstraße 43 just after 8:00PM. They rang the Marcusson family’s door bell, where the two had been seeking refuge, forced their way into the building and up to the apartment where Liebknecht and Luxemburg were.

The entrance to Mannheimerstraße 43 (today house number 27)

The men had been tipped off and the source of where they’d gotten their information of Liebknecht’s and Luxemburg’s whereabouts is still uncertain today.

Before the two Spartacus leaders were arrested and eventually taken to the famous Eden Hotel for further questioning, (Liebknecht was first taken to a nearby school in order to determine his identity), Luxemburg had quickly borrowed a pair of wool socks from Mrs. Marcusson before venturing out into the cold January night in Berlin.

Hallway and staircase that led to Liebknecht’s and Luxemburg’s hiding spot at Mannheimerstraße 43
Outside the apartment where Liebknecht and Luxemburg took refuge from January 13 – January 15, 1919.

After hours of torture and interrogation while in police custody, Liebknecht’s and Luxemburg’s lives would be brutally brought to an end at the hands of the  Free Corps who had been egged on by the mainstream Social Democrats looking to protect the young republic from the leftist movement; revolutionaries in a number of other German cities were also put down or summarily murdered to eliminate any future threat to the new republic.

While being transported to Moabit Prison, Liebknecht was shot in the back after the car he’d been riding in had pulled over to the side of the road not far from the Eden Hotel. His body was then taken away.

Rosa Luxemburg Memorial along the Landwehrkanal in Berlin-Tiergarten

After being gruesomely beaten with a rifle butt and shot in the head, Luxemburg was  flung into Berlin’s Landwehrkanal (a canal running east to west immediately south of the city center). Four and a half months later, after the canal’s ice had thawed, Luxemburg’s body was found and Mrs. Marcusson of Wilmersdorf would immediately recognize her stockings and other items of clothing on the corpse when pictures of the body surfaced.

The famous Eden Hotel situated on the three corners of Budapesterstraße/Kurfürstendamm/Nürnberger Straße. It was here that the Central Council of the German Socialist Republic had set up its offices on the second floor, and where Luxemburg and Liebknecht were interrogated that night

These events would ultimately create a very troubled atmosphere for the next few months and they’d also leave a permanent legacy of bitterness and hatred on the political left for the next several years. Moreover, they would decidedly doom any kind of cooperation between Social Democrats and Communists in Germany’s new republic.

Mutual fear, mutual recriminations and mutual hatred between these two parties became their only common ground with one another from that point onward. And when it came time to combat the rise of National Socialism in the national government years later, representatives of the Social Democrats and Communists still weren’t able to put their differences aside.

 

 

 

Bibliography

Evans, Richard J. (2003). The Coming of the Third Reich. New York: Penguin Group ISBN 1-59420-004-1

Uwe Soukup, “Luxemburg und Liebknecht: Das letzte Versteck,” Der Tagesspiegel, January 11, 2010

Weitz, Eric D. (2007). Weimar Germany: Promise and Tragedy. New Jersey: Princeton University Press ISBN 978-0-691-01695-5

 

Berlin Guides Association’s December 2018 Excursion to Weimar & the Buchenwald Concentration Camp Memorial

The start of our city tour on the first day

Weimar

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

As part of our commitment to furthering and enhancing our education as ambassadors of German history, the Berlin Guides Association took its monthly excursion to the city of Weimar last month to explore all its rich history and to learn more about the city’s reputation as a center of art and culture.

Weimar’s City Palace which had been the home of the Dukes of Saxe-Weimar since 1552

 

Around 20 of our members took a tour of the city and followed the traces of its classicist and post-classicist past, as well as the traditions of its modern movement – which included the city’s famous Bauhaus history.

 

Weimar’s Theater

Furthermore, our guides visited the Weimar Theater which was the birthplace of the so-called Weimar Republic – Germany’s first attempt at democracy which lasted from 1919-1933. This was the venue where the 423 delegates of the first ever democratically elected National Assembly of the Republic convened from 6 February – 30 September 1919.

Some of Weimar’s splendid architecture

 

Some of our members out to dinner after a long day of exploring

 

Buchenwald Concentration Camp Memorial

Thursday, December 6, 2018

 

Main entrance into Buchenwald Concentration Camp

The following day our members ventured just a little over 6 miles northwest of Weimar to the Buchenwald Concentration Camp Memorial site where they received a private tour from one of the camp’s guides.

 

 

In operation from 1937-1945, this camp was first established by Heinrich Himmler’s SS to detain political opponents of the NSDAP, persecute Jews, Sinti and Roma, and imprison the so-called “enemies of the state” – such as, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, ex-convicts, and various other people deemed “unfit” for German society in the Third Reich.

The foundations of many original barracks are all that remain except for one in this part of the camp.

 

 

After the onset of WWII, Buchenwald became an important place for so-called “undesirables” from all across Europe to be sent to. Around 280,000 were imprisoned at Buchenwald and its 139 sub camps and more than 56,000 would perish there as the result of torture, medical experiments, exhaustion, and murder.

 

 

Our members with their tour guide on the infamous “Appellplatz” (roll call ground) just within the camp’s entrance

When the Americans reached Buchenwald in April 1945, Allied Supreme Commander, Dwight Eisenhower recorded: “Nothing has ever shocked me as much as that sight.”

 

 

Our guide did a fantastic job uncovering the realities of life and death in the camp while also unraveling the complex history of not only the Holocaust itself, but also how the Soviets turned Buchenwald (located in their occupation zone after the signing of the Nazi unconditional surrender) into a so-called “Special Camp” for their own enemies, political dissidents and others whom they felt necessary to imprison.

If you travel to Germany in the future, a visit to Weimar and or the Buchenwald Concentration Camp Memorial is definitely worth considering. From Berlin, it takes roughly 2 1/2 hours to reach by train; and from Munich, a train journey will take just under 3 hours.

(A special thank you to Berlin Guides Association member, Maria Bergman, for providing the pictures for this blog post).

Possibly The Most Haunted Place in Berlin

Halloween in the Hauptstadt: Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Spandau Citadel: Built from 1559-1594 on a natural island formed by the juncture of the Spree River and Havel River

Today is Halloween and in a city with a past as tumultuous as Berlin’s, people often wonder where the haunted places and spookiest corners around the German capital are.

The Citadel in Spandau is an old 16th century fortress which some sentimental Berliners might tell you is still haunted by the “Weiße Frau (white lady) of Hohenzollern” today.

Years before Berlin became a royal and eventually an imperial capital, it served as the official seat of the Margraviate of Brandenburg – a major principality of the Holy Roman Empire – after the House of Hohenzollern took over as prince-electors in Berlin from 1417 onward.

Joachim II Hector of Brandenburg served as prince-elector from 1535-1571. He was a robust leader who was concerned about the interests of his principality and was extremely generous to his servants.

Joachim II Hector – Prince Elector of the Holy Roman Empire from the Margraviate of Brandenburg (1535-1571)

Not so particularly kind to his wife, however.

In the same year that he became prince-elector, he married a lady from Poland named Hedwig. In 1549 she was involved in a tragic accident, severely injuring her abdomen and making it very difficult for her to walk. Joachim II consequently decided to have a relationship with a lady named Anna Sydow, who would eventually live in the Grunewald hunting lodge (which Joachim II had built) west of Berlin and gave birth to two of the Elector’s children there.

Ten years before Joachim II died, he made his son, Johann Georg, promise him to protect his beloved mistress, Anna Sydow, long after he was gone. But as soon as Johann Georg came to the throne in 1571, he went against his father’s wishes and had her immediately arrested and taken to the Spandau Citadel where she was imprisoned until her death in 1575.

“The Weiße Frau” Anna Sydow haunting the halls of the Citadel

Just days before Johann Georg passed away in 1598, he supposedly saw her spirit appear to him as a “Weiße Frau” who would subsequently return to haunt the halls of the Spandau Citadel in the years thereafter.

But finally in 1709, while the Berlin City Palace was being reconstructed, the skeleton assumed to be Anna Sydow’s was found. It was then given a proper burial with the hope that the Spandau Citadel would no longer be haunted.

Yet according to another legend, Anna Sydow was walled in alive at the Grunewald hunting lodge, which means that the skeleton assumed to be hers in 1709 could very well have been the remains of someone else.

Either way, if you happen to visit the Spandau Citadel in the future, be sure to keep your eyes open for the Weiße Frau who could still be haunting the fortress’ halls today.

Happy Halloween from the Berlin Guides Association!

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The Berlin Guides Association is comprised of professional, expert guides working in Berlin, throughout Germany and across Europe. Our passion is sharing our knowledge of German history and culture with visitors to Berlin and from around the world. We are Berlin’s official tour guide association.
Visit our website for more information and to check out our tour page: https://berlinguidesassociation.com/tours

Berlin Guides Association September Jazz Tour

September’s BBS Excursion: Exploring Berlin’s Jazz History

Last week one of our wonderful guides, Anja Gellenkamp, led a group of two dozen eager explorers through the streets of Berlin-Mitte to uncover several forgotten entertainment venues that once defined Berlin’s heady Jazz scene of the 1920s and 30s.

As opposed to the more raucous American styles to have been found in places like New York and Chicago, Berlin-Mitte was renowned for its more conservative – watered-down – version of ‘Jass’ – so-called ‘Berliner Melange’. Equally, the windy, blues-jazz that could’ve been found in smoke-filled bars up and down the Mississippi River was always a long way from Berlin’s Spree River!

Many Berliners, however, were fascinated by American jazz during the Weimar Republic because Jazz from America meant modern, at a time when Germany was on the front lines of a political and societal revolution following WWI. If Berlin didn’t quite have the exact same noises and rhythms as New Orleans, Kansas City, or Chicago, it didn’t really matter at the end of the day. Jazz was modern, it was exciting and Berliners enjoyed it with as much empathy as those jazz enthusiasts on the other side of the Atlantic did.

One of the ‘forgotten venues’ our group found was the Weisse Maus – pictured now as the Quartier 205 shopping mall. Once home to famous Weimar era dancer Anita Berber and an extreme version of Schadenfreude Theatre where visitors would be invited on stage to embarrass themselves with unusual acts.

Long Live the Berlin Eckkneipe

“The most beautiful place is always in the bar (Der schönste Platz ist immer an der Theke),” as Toni Steingass, the German singer and song writer, sang in 1950.

The Eckkneipe classic: “Bump & a Beer”

There’s a certain kind of bar in Berlin that offers coziness and an undeniable sense of content.

Whereas Vienna has its coffee houses, London its pubs, Paris its Bistros, and Barcelona its Bodegas, Berlin has its Eckkneipen (corner bars) which have been synonymous with an unmistakable popular way of life that’s rooted in the city’s historical development.

Toward the end of the 19th century, the Industrial Revolution transformed Berlin into an economic powerhouse and the city’s size expanded dramatically. Additional suburbs began to develop as the population continued to increase, and Berlin thus became a largely working-class city.

Photo of a Berlin Eckkneipe taken around 1900

Despite the city’s initial efforts to increase its housing, workers often lived in dark, damp, poorly heated and ventilated dwellings that soon became the breeding grounds for rampant disease, violence, and crime.

It was absolute misery for several of Berlin’s new working-class.

After putting in an exhausting and physically demanding 12-hour shift, one could rarely relax in such a horrendous place at the end of the day.

Therefore, to unwind and to avoid the misery at home, workers gathered for a bump and a beer (a glass of beer and a shot of hard liquor) at the nearest Eckkeneipe where they could relax – as if they were at home – and wash down their hopeless fate with other like-minded people.

Eventually, living conditions would improve and most people wouldn’t have to rely on their local Eckkeneipe to find solace after a long day’s work  (unless if they were deliberately trying to avoid a particular person at home!). Yet, the Berlin Eckkeneipe had given its patrons a sense of belonging to a community – a community in which everybody had an identity among each other in a very large and overcrowded city.

Today’s new wave of young faces that frequent Berlin’s Eckkneipen

By 1931, the renown German author, Erich Kästner, supposedly counted 20,100 Eckkeneipen throughout Berlin.

Today there are probably around 2,500 Eckkeneipen throughout the German capital.  Because of the city’s booming real estate market and the fact that former undesired neighborhoods have now become trendy hangouts among a new age of residents in Berlin, there’s been a dramatic change in the demographics of those who visit an Eckkeneipe today. A bunch of older folks sitting on barstools, drinking as much as they can and smoking like chimnies have now become a dying breed. There’s now a whole new demographic of people who just want cheap beer, a chance to play darts or pool, and blast Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” on the jukebox.

Bienenkorb Eckkneipe
Hermannstraße – Neukölln

Yet, “Long Live the Berlin Eckkeneipe” means that, despite our changing world, tradition and behavior together don’t change. Today when you enter the front door, it’s customary to say “Hallo” or “Guten Tag” to everyone with whom you make eye contact because most regulars who frequent an Eckkneipe simply expect a proper hello from each patron who walks in.

Times may have changed, but tradition doesn’t.

Head to an Eckknesipe while you’re in Berlin. Usually, there’s just one person running the bar, so don’t grow impatient if it takes a minute or two for him or her to get to you. It’s also worth mentioning that there’s a special art when it comes to pouring an Eckkeneipe beer, so be patient after you’ve ordered.

Feel free to strike up a conversation with the person nearest to you because remember, it’s all about feeling content and relaxed as if you were at home.

 

 

 

 

A Guide To Private Tours In Berlin

Private Guide Group

Tour groups are a fundamental part of the scenery in Berlin.

Wandering the city’s historic central district of Mitte, it is hard not to notice the numerous large groups of tourists being spirited through the streets by various colourful characters.

Look closer and you may see smaller, more intimate groups, engaged in lively discussion.

Tourism is booming in Berlin, with the city registering more than 30 million overnight stays in 2016, making it the third most popular destination in Europe – behind only London and Paris.

As famed for its hedonism as for its weighty history, it is easy to see why the German capital draws the crowds.

Once the nerve-centre of Hitler’s Third Reich and later the frontline of the ideological battle that raged during the Cold War between East and West, Berlin stands as THE city of the 20th century.

Following its re-unification in 1990, it has become emblematic of the new, re-energised, Modern Germany – dynamic, introspective & pulsing with change.

Berlin’s preeminent ambassadors are the hundreds of professional tour guides who work throughout the year to introduce visitors to the major and minor milestones marking the city’s existence – the things that remain hidden in plain sight and the places off-the-beaten-track.

Taking a guided tour of Berlin is rightly considered a must when visiting the city.

In the right company, you will find yourself experiencing things that will define your visit entirely – and leave you heading home with souvenirs, both material and intellectual, worth treasuring forever.


Why Tour with a Guide?

Scratch the surface in Berlin and you’ll find that what is immediately visible to all is just the start of the adventure.

If you’re looking to dig deeper, see more and learn more, enlisting the services of a professional guide will go a long way towards satisfying your curiosity. And just perhaps, help you scratch that itch you never knew you had.

Whether your interest is in an introductory sightseeing tour, a more in-depth exploration of a particular chapter in the city’s rich history, or diving into Berlin’s cultural offerings – a professional guide will have the experience, knowledge, and contacts to make things happen that would otherwise be impossible.

Travelling somewhere new is one of the most inspiring and thrilling things you can do, but as any seasoned traveller will tell you, a first time visit to a city inherently comes with its own time-wasting frustrations and annoyances.

What is the easiest way to get around? How does the public transportation work? Am I safe to walk about at night? Are there any local customs that I should be aware of? If I have a niche interest in something particular, how do I tap into it? And most importantly, how can I make the best use of my time?

A guide will be able to help with all of these questions. But above and beyond providing necessary assistance, a truly professional tour guide will make your experience memorable, for all the right reasons.


Professional Guide vs Amateur Guide

Every country and city you visit will have its own spectrum of tour guide quality.

Knowing that there is a difference between the seasonal amateur workers, at best running a theatrical showpiece from a pre-established script, and those who find that guiding is part of their intellectual calling, is the first step in navigating your way to the best use of your time and money.

As with most cities, Berlin has a rich community of excellent professional guides, all with life experience in various different fields of interest – accomplished scholars, journalists, historians, political and social scientists, archaeologists, researchers and photographers.

The Berlin gamut ranges from erudite students eager to put their education to good use, all the way to enormously impressive streetside scholars, experts in their fields, offering their time and company – all to your advantage.

There is an old educational maxim that says that you don’t really understand something until you can teach it to someone else.

Expert guides are expert teachers.

This comes with experience and often years of dedication to the art.

With guiding at its highest form, you can expect intellectual stimulation from gifted educators who practice their profession with passion and pride.

A great guide is an invaluable asset. Welcoming you to the city, peeling back the layers, saving you time, and generally empowering you with a wealth of suggestions so that you can go on to enjoy your remaining independent time to the fullest.

A great guide is also someone who, by virtue of being a dedicated professional, will have committed time that you may not have, to doing research, collecting materials, and generally gaining access to all sorts of exciting things within the spectrum of their focus.

A great guide will also be able to change direction halfway through on the fly, seamlessly adjust schedules and reservations (within the limits of reality), and above all else, be captivating.

Change your mind about lunch? No problem, let’s go somewhere else.

Did another topic suddenly catch your attention? Fantastic, let’s change direction and dig in.

Feeling grumpy from the flight? Some fresh air and good company will go a long way to helping solve that problem.

If it is the job of an amateur to drag you through the tourist traps, it is the job of the consumate professional to lead you far beyond them.

First showing you the highlights in the context of the whole, and then opening up secret doors in the backdrop of the stage – to show you another side of things entirely.


Private Tour vs Public Tour

Obviously, there is a time and a place for everything, but it’s important to keep your expectations on par with your means and choices.

A great public tour can be a terrific experience for those whose budget doesn’t permit hiring a private guide.

Bear in mind however, that even at its best, a public group is necessarily a compromise.

With a public tour, the guide is at the mercy of the group as a whole, and will be playing to an averaged assessment of what the group’s interests are within the framework of their topic for the day.

Sometimes this is fantastic, sometimes it shows its limitations.

A public tour (whether a paid tour or one of the ‘free tours’ we can discuss later) can often appear as a well-oiled stage show, the kind where the performer sometimes mingles with the crowd, sometimes appears in the balcony to surprise the audience.

A professional private guide is a different kind of animal – combining the professionalism and one-on-one attention of a skilled concierge with the ability to remain well-versed on all sorts of local political and cultural issues, while seamlessly blending history with present-day relevance.

With a great private guide, it’s entirely your day, your show, and the guide will be working hard exclusively for you to make sure you personallly get the most out of the experience.

You will also have the luxury of direct access to his or her expertise without the distraction of other strangers. This means that your experience is infinitely more flexible, and that you are almost guaranteed to end up getting more not just out of the tour itself, but also from the remainder of your entire trip.

Obviously, a private tour comes at a very different price point than the average public tour does.

However, if you factor in the time you save, the fact that you will be spared exposure to that somehow inevitable person who feels compelled to blurt out a million annoying comments on every public tour, and the access to special places and information that might end up being otherwise invisible, a private tour starts to look more attractive by the second.


Prices

There are few times in life when quality does not come at a price.

What is exceptional about tour guiding is that it is an industry where your experience is defined by just one person – your guide.

Although with any restaurant you visit will likely have a chain of workers, all functioning together to make the whole (from the waiter who takes your order, to the chef who cooks your food, the kitchen helper who prepares the basic ingredients, and the bartender who serves your drinks), with a tour you are at the mercy of only one person.

It is worth remembering that the cost of what you are purchasing is relevant to the experience you have with this person, with that, different guides may offer different prices based on their personal availability and professional quality.

Any per hourly rate you receive from any guide will generally be a good indication of how serious the guide or agency is and a reflection of how in demand they are.

At the prospect of sounding redundant, it is likely that if a guide you approach offers you a certain price that may seem high, it is likely that it is because they are worth it. It is the job of the amateur guide, who is not in demand due to their reputation and experience, to try to lowball the market.

However, it is reasonable to expect that prices vary based on the time of the year, you can expect to pay more in the summer season when guides are in demand, and don’t be surprised to receive a discount rate in the winter season when the number of tourists in town is lower.

When working directly with a private guide in Berlin you will often encounter the ‘sliding scale payment system’ – this means that you get to decide on the day what you would like to pay, based on a predefined suggested scale, and according to how much you value the experience.

This is also a way of trying to make private tours more accessible to a wider range of budgets.

Within reason, you can expect to pay between 40€ and 150€ per hour for a private guide in Berlin – depending on a number of factors:

  • Who the guide is
  • Whether you are working directly with the guide
  • The time of year (whether on-season or off-season)
  • How in-demand the guide is
  • Whether you have any special requests for the tour (perhaps visiting something that is off-the-beaten track, and requires extra planning
  • Whether the tour requires transportation (this is not included in the above price)
  • How large your group is

Remember, the old saying: the poor man pays twice.

What may seem like a saving on price could actually be a sacrifice you are making on quality.

By Matt Robinson
Originally published on Berlin Experiences