The Wolves of Brandenburg
“What could have possessed people to found a city in the middle of all this sand?”
– Stendhal (1783 – 1842)
In the first quarter of the Twentieth Century, Berlin stands as one of the greatest cities in the world – home to over four million souls. In population only New York and London are greater. Although not yet considered a cultural capital on the eve of the Great War, Berlin is a financial, scientific, and industrial power with few peers and the equal, if not the better, of any other city.
Berlin lacks the antiquity of other European cities, and as such seems much more like an American city than any other in Europe. Comparisons to Chicago are often made. Although Berlin has been considered an important political center since the time of Frederick the Great, its emergence as a major European city has happened only in the last fifty years.
To the Garou, Berlin is a testimony to the power of the Weaver. It is a bewildering, confusing, and dangerous place filled with uneasy spirits and hidden dangers. Only the Glass Walkers are truly home in it, and the other tribes avoid it if possible.
Berlin is a major industrial city with over a thousand factories, andis the world leader in electrical equipment. Almost anything manufactured in the world during the 1920s is probably also made in Berlin, but the major industrial concerns include Siemens and AEG (both similar to General Electric); BASF, Bayer, Hoechst and Agfa (chemicals; these four companies will combine in 1925 into IG Farben to become the fourth largest corporation in the world, only behind the US companies of Standard Oil, US Steel, and General Motors); Schering (pharmaceuticals); Krupp, Thyssen and Mannesmann (steel); Zeiss Gruppe (optics); and Daimler and Opel (automotives).
Much of the industrial worker population lives in countless Mietskasernen (literally ‘rental barracks’), labyrinthine tenements built around successive courtyards, where entire families subsisted in tiny and poorly ventilated flats without indoor plumbing.
Berlin is the financial capital of Germany as well. Many important banks and insurances companies are headquartered here or have offices. The largest include Deutsche Bank and Allianz. Berlin finance is not just important to Germany, but throughout Europe and the world, although the end of the Great War has damaged this severely.
Berlin is also one of the greener cities in the world. Home to several parks and gardens, it also houses the Grunewald Forest, a former royal hunting ground now open to the public as a city park. Here is the last bastion and stronghold of the Garou in Berlin. The creation of the caern here occurred within living memory, around fifty years ago. Originally a creation of the Silver Fangs and Get of Fenris as an act of defiance against the city, the Silver Fangs reluctantly welcomed the Glass Walkers who provided critical assistance in protecting the woods from urban development in the first decade of the Twentieth Century.
In 1920, the Greater Berlin Act incorporate the old city of Berlin and its immediate suburbs into a city of 4 million. 1.9 million of that is in Alt-Berlin, or the official boundaries of the city as it is in 1919 in the six boroughs of Mitte, Tiergarten, Wedding, Prenzlauer Berg, Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain. Seven towns (Charlottenburg, Köpenick, Lichtenberg, Neukölln, Schöneberg, Spandau and Wilmersdorf) surrounding Berlin will add another 1.2 million with each becoming its own borough. The last 0.9 million will come from 59 rural communities and 27 estate districts from the surrounding districts of Niederbarnim, Osthavelland and Teltow which will become seven new boroughs of Pankow, Reinickendorf, Steglitz, Tempelhof, Treptow, Weißensee and Zehlendorf.
The Act increased the area of Berlin 13-fold from 66 km² (25.5 mi²) to 883 km² (341 mi²) making Berlin one of the largest cities in the world by territory, about double that of Paris.
Institute for Occult Science – The Institute was founded in 1886 by explorers returning from the German Congo Expedition to document their experiences with African witch doctors and study comparative anthropology with other shamanistic societies. Originally named the Society for Colonial Anthropology, by 1898 the society had renamed itself and had a new emphasis on recording all manner of paranormal phenomenon. Rumor had it that the society discovered evidence of true psychic phenomenon on a research expedition to St Petersburg to study Sami shamans.
The Institute is different from other occult research societies by its use of the scientific method and attempts to provide a rational basis for paranormal phenomenon.
Kimbernorden – The “Order of Cimbri” is a volkisch secret society which contains a lot of Garou kinfolk. It is based in the Berlin neighborhood of Kopenick in the southeast of the city. The society contains several prominent German occultists. It is a a clandestine movement aimed at the upper echelons of society. It is a hierarchical fraternal structure similar to Freemasonry. Local groups meet to celebrate the seasonal solstices and equinoxes and read important Germanic mythological texts for secret wisdom. The society does not actually teach authentic German paganism, but Garou values, philosophies, and society as a way to influence and change human society. Some of those Garou values involve a belief in mystical tie of blood and soil, racial pure breeding, ancestor worship, and hierarchical society based on dominance and submission. The Kimbern orden is open to any Garou or kinfolk who wish to support it, but is considered to be the protectorate or property of the Herrenbode pack.
Albert Ritter von Tomas & Soehne Antiquaritaet – This antiquarian bookshop deals in rare books, manuscripts, and first editions especially of the Nuremberg masters. Located in Alt-Berlin, it is one of the most prestigious book sellers in Berlin.
Arcanum Chapterhouse, Berlin
The Arcanum is an organization of occultists and esotericists dedicated to studying the supernatural. It originated as dispute between two orders of Rosicrucians. It was founded in London, but quickly became an international association with chapterhouses in Paris and Boston. The Arcanum established a Berlin Chapterhouse in 1894. It is located in a great Baroque mansion in the Nikolaiviertel in Berlin’s Mitte.
The organization is indirectly involved in the suppression of paranormal information by hoarding many books and and other artifacts that are relevant to the existence of the supernatural. Beneath the buildings of their chapterhouses are a number of museums that house a substantial collection of artifacts, all connected with the supernatural in some way. Vaults accessible only by the eldest members of the order contain paraphernalia connected with vampires.
Garou know that the Arcanum is studying lycanthropy, but that they have not learned much. The organization is treated suspiciously by Garou, but is not seen as a threat to the Veil given the Arcanum’s own efforts to keep their supernatural knowledge secret. There is debate among some Garou whether kinfolk should be sent to infiltrate the group.