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Reichstag: Rich In History

The following are key dates in the history of Germany's Reichstag:

1894: Opens as seat of first German parliament, though Germany still ruled by Kaiser Wilhelm. Name Reichstag means "Imperial Parliament."

1918: Empire dissolved after World War I defeat. Reichstag becomes seat of parliament in Germany's first democracy, the Weimar Republic.

Feb. 27, 1933: Reichstag burned in arson fire. Dutch anarchist arrested, but Nazis blame communists. Two days later, Hitler uses fire as reason to suspend civil rights, shut down opposition press and political parties.

Bombed-out building at end of World War II
April 1945: Soviet army seizes Berlin, with orders to take Reichstag. Red Army solider plants Soviet flag on roof, symbolizing Nazi defeat.

1945: Berlin divided into communist east and Allied-controlled, capitalist West. West German capital moved to western city of Bonn.

1 961: East Germans build Berlin Wall. Part of wall just a few steps from Reichstag's east side. Most of building is in West Berlin, but northeast corner belongs to communist East.

1990: East and West Germany unify one year after fall of Berlin Wall.

The renovated Reichstag
1991: German leaders decide to move capital back to Berlin and reinstall parliament in Reichstag.

1993: British architect Sir Norman Foster chosen to renovate Reichstag after international competition

1995: Artist Christo wraps Reichstag in silvery fabric. Five million people come to see the two-week event in June and July. Later in July, Foster begins renovation.

April 19, 1999: German parliament gathers for first time in renovated Reichstag, symbolizing government's return to Berlin.