Wilhelmstrasse evolved over several centuries from an upscale residential quarter to the center of German government. Its architecture was considered less culturally and artistically significant than Unter den Linden and more tainted by association with the Prussian-German state and the NSDAP in particular. In the late 1940s, Berlin planners intended for the area to continue serving as government center. They began to transform Wilhelmplatz into a larger square, Thälmannplatz, with a memorial to honor the fallen Communist leader. After the state founding of the GDR, Ulbricht and leading GDR planners shifted planning for the government center to Marx-Engels Square, leaving Wilhelmstrasse as an area of secondary concern. Socialist realism had limited impact here, as decisions over demolition and preservation hinged more on utilitarian spatial value than architectural merit or place-based meaning. Nazi structures were cleansed of iconography and preserved, while older residential structures were demolished.
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