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German Gov’t. Begins Move to Berlin

April 15, 1999

BERLIN (AP) _ The German government’s return to Berlin kicked into gear Thursday when the first train packed with furniture, files and other supplies arrived from the longtime postwar capital of Bonn.

Shipments are expected to last throughout the year as Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, parliament and one ministry after another complete the 370-mile move back to the historic capital.

The first nine freight containers with 100 tons of supplies arrived just before lawmakers inaugurate the renovated Reichstag building in central Berlin as the new seat of parliament on Monday. Regular sessions are only starting in the fall, though.

Thursday’s shipment went by truck to the modern new Interior Ministry on the Spree River, the only one fully constructed so far, and the still unfinished Economics Ministry near a former Berlin Wall crossing point.

Parliament narrowly approved the $11 billion move in 1991 after the fall of the Berlin Wall and German unification.

While the government’s main trek is just starting, German President Roman Herzog, whose post is largely ceremonial, moved his office from the Rhine to the Spree already last November.

Schroeder plans to move to temporary offices in Berlin this summer. His new $222 million chancellery won’t be finished for two years.

Moving the 669 parliament members and their staff of 3,300 involves transporting 24 miles of files, 28,000 cartons of books, 3,400 art works, 1,184 televisions, 1,300 computers and 837 refrigerators.

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