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How would you - this question is directed mostly to German friends - describe major differences between pre-war three "similar" cities:
  • Leipzig (707.000 inhabitants in 1939)
  • Dresden (630.000 inhabitants in 1939)
  • Breslau (629.000 inhabitants in 1939)

I wonder about economical, cultural and architectural significance of these three cities in a mind of ordinary German people from other part of Reich.

Greetings! :)
Good question and I do think, too that these cities were kind of "sisters" before WWII.

Leipzig was - from an economical point of view - the most dynamic city of these three during the time from 1871 until 1914 with a prestigous university and a famous trade fair. But Leipzig wasn't a regional capital city as were Dresden and Breslau and I think that Leipzig was perceived as the least beautiful of these three and perhaps a bit as the "nouveau riche" ...

Dresden was the capital of Saxony, one of the most influential states in Germany for several centuries up until 1945 and Dresden was well known for its beauty, its cultural heritage and its treasures. But Dresden didn't dispose of a famous university as Leipzig and Breslau did.

Breslau, the capital of Silesia, was also inofficially named the capital city of the whole German East. The university of Breslau was highly prestigious and it's still at a top position amongst the German universities concerning nobel prize winners which were students and/or professors there.

And Breslau had already an important role for German literature in the 17th centrury:

en.wikipedia.org (History of Wroclaw) said:
Breslau and Silesia, which possessed 6 of the 12 leading grammar schools in Holy Roman Empire, became the centre of German Baroque literature. Poets such as Martin Opitz, Andreas Gryphius, Christian Hoffmann von Hoffmannswaldau, Daniel Casper von Lohenstein and Angelus Silesius formed the so-called First and Second Silesian school of poets which shaped the German literature of that time.
Link
Besides that the city of Breslau had a high ideal value due to its important role in the "wars of liberation" against Napoleon.

It was there that the "iron cross" had been established in 1813 (see: here). Around the same time the famous proclamation "An mein Volk" from King Frederick William III of Prussia was issued in Breslau.

en.wikipedia.org (An mein Volk) said:
The document is the first instance of a Prussian monarch directly addressing the public in order to justify his policies.
Link
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And from 1918 until 1943 Breslau had a trade fair of cross-regional importance. Another similarity with Leipzig, which was the most important site for trade fairs in Germany (Central Europe) before WWII.
 

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Horrible view today. Everything you can make wrong in urban planning/architecture Cologne had made it between the 50's and 70's. And as a result you can walk through one of Europe's ugliest cities. Apart from some nice streets in newer quarters (Friesisches Viertel, Belgisches Viertel) (Belle Epoque) you'll only see dirt, crime (Ebertplatz, Domtreppen) and one architectural disaster after an other.
 

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Berlin

A couple of views of the Moltkebrücke


(source)

While under construction; you can see the General Staff Building and the backside of the Nationalpanorama. During its existence, the latter building displayed a total of six panoramic paintings, including a depiction of the Siege of Paris and a detailed view of Rome at the time of Emperor Constantine. By 1900 it no longer existed, but the plot remained separate and retained the same circular shape, as one can see in Straube's 1910 map of Berlin, and the 1928 aerial view of the city.


(source)

The Austro-Hungarian Embassy can be seen in the centre (the three-storey building with a massive coat of arms atop the façade).
 

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I love this map. Here is another good one by the Morgenpost:

"Gründerzeit villa, post-war block or plattenbau: At some point, every house was a new building. This map shows the decades in which today's Berlin was built - apartment block by apartment block. Discover which building eras make up the areas of the city and how old your living environment is."

1078984

© Morgenpost

Old Berlin - to 1900: Proportion: 7%
1079056


Imperial era / war / revolution - 1901-1920: Proportion: 10%
1079060


1920s and Nazi era - 1921-1940: Proportion: 23%
1079069


War and reconstruction - 1941-1960: Proportion: 11%
1079075


Divided town - 1961-1990: Proportion: 28%
1079090


Fall of the wall by the turn of the millennium - 1991-2000: Proportion: 11%
1079096


New Berlin boom - 2001-2016: Proportion: 10%
1079100


© Morgenpost
 

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That 40% of Berlin's building stock is pre-war is still pretty good, especially given the post-war clearance of many viable buildings (especially in the East). Unfortunately most of the more ornate examples have had their exteriors modernised.

Also looking at the map, I feel like single family housing likely skews the data a little. If we're considering built up, urban areas, a greater proportion is pre-war. A lot of the more recent construction on the city's periphery is single family housing.
 

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No Coselpalais here. We have (up -> down): Taschenbergpalais and Castle, Frauenkirche seen from Jüdenhof, Japanisches Palais, northeastern stairs tower at the great castle court yard, Glockenspielpavillon at Zwinger, Sophienkirche, Stallhof, Narrenhäusel, Dinglingerhaus (Jüdenhof) and Jägerhof (Neustadt).
 
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