Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Bebelplatz 2: "Kommode"

The ‘Kommode’ – designed by Georg Christian Unger – came into being between 1775 and 1780 as a royal library, the last large-scale construction of the Frederician era.
Am Bebelplatz 1
Figure: Maria Friedrich

The story goes that the building owes its unusual name to chance. In answer to Unger’s question of how the royal library should be designed, Frederick II answered: ‘Make it like that cabinet there and leave me alone’, pointing to a chest of drawers (or ‘Kommode’ in German). However, the royal library is in fact an adaptation of the St Michael’s Wing of the Hofburg in Vienna.

When Berlin University opened in 1810, university benefactor Frederick William III decreed that students should also be allowed to use the library. However, the Kommode premises soon became so cramped that a new building complex was constructed, the current Berlin State Library on Unter den Linden. ‘Kommode’ was given to the university in 1910 to mark its 100th anniversary, and it has been home to the Faculty of Law ever since. To commemorate Lenin’s 1895 study visit here, in 1968 the library was given an arched window entitled ‘Lenin in Germany’, designed by Frank Glaser.



Bebelplatz 2
10117 Berlin