No other capital city, in the twentieth century, experienced political changes as extreme as Berlin: from the German Empire to the Weimar Republic to the National Socialist dictatorship, followed by democracy in the West and socialism in the East, before fi nally sailing into the safe harbour of democratic Europe as the reunited Federal Republic. Berlin served as a bridge from which the erratic course of this state ship was commanded, albeit answering to a wide range of demands and assuming many roles. Thus the principal political turning points (1918, 1933, 1945-1949 and 1990) are key markers in the timeline of Berlin’s history as a capital city in the twentieth century.