Dahlem is a locality of the Steglitz-Zehlendorf borough in southwestern Berlin. Until Berlin's 2001 administrative reform it was a part of the former borough of Zehlendorf. Dahlem is one of the most affluent parts of the city and an important historical center for academic research. Dahlem is home to the renowned Freie Universität Berlin with its Philological Library ("The Brain") by Norman Foster as an important local landmark. Several other research institutions, the Berlin Botanical Garden (officially on the ground of neighbouring Lichterfelde) and many museums are located there. Although Dahlem has a reputation of an idyllic and quiet area, it is very busy with students arriving by U-Bahn on weekdays. The western part of the locality includes parts of the Grunewald forest, including the Renaissance Grunewald hunting lodge built in 1543.
The first written account of Dahlem dates to the year 1275. The history of the village is connected to the Dahlem Demesne (Domäne Dahlem) first mentioned in 1450. Its estates were sold to the state of Prussia in 1841 and developed by dividing it into lots for building villas and mansions. The Demesne buildings today house a working farm and an agricultural open-air museum. In 1920 the village was amalgamated into Greater Berlin. From 1931 on Martin Niemöller, a leader of the Confessing Church, was pastor of the United Protestant Sankt-Annen-Kirche until he was arrested by the Nazis in 1937.
During the Cold War Dahlem belonged to the American Sector of West Berlin. From 1945 to 1991 the seat of the Allied Kommandatura of Berlin was in Dahlem on Kaiserswerther Straße. Today it serves as the office for the president of the local university. Until 1994, the headquarters of the United States Army Berlin command and the Berlin Brigade were located on Clayallee street. Parts of the building are still used by the Embassy of the United States in Berlin. The former library and Outpost theater across the street today house the (West-)Allied Museum. Because many of Berlin's artistic, cultural, and educational institutions were located in the city's historical center in the former eastern part of Berlin, West Berlin authorities established many duplicates in Dahlem - above all the Freie Universität Berlin (literally the "Free University Berlin") in 1948, which was established by students and scholars as an antipole to the increasingly communist "Universität Unter den Linden". The newly founded university should uphold the traditional values of academic freedom and the educational ideal proposed by Wilhelm von Humboldt.
Rudi Dutschke, spokesman of the German student movement in the 1960s, is buried at the cemetery of the Sankt-Annen-Kirche.
Dahlem is served by the U3 line on the Berlin U-Bahn system. Stations in Dahlem include Breitenbachplatz, Podbielskiallee, Dahlem-Dorf, Thielplatz and Oskar-Helene-Heim.
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