Skip to main content

Google Maps renames Berlin Square 'Adolf-Hitler-Platz'


The review process by which one can suggest changes to Google Maps has caused a little bit of a kerfuffle in Germany as of late. The problem? An unknown user recently suggested that Berlin's Theodor-Heuss-Platz should not have that nice, pleasant name ā€“ instead it should be known as, "Adolf-Hitler-Platz."

One would think that a change of this magnitude, especially involving the name of a rather taboo subject in Germany (to this day), would catch the attention of one of Google's volunteer moderators who would summarily reject the change. Not so, in this case.

Google Maps moderator "Vishali" — a fairly well-versed editor who has approved more than 24,000 edits over the last year and a half or so, reports TechCrunch — not only went through with the change, but he also marked it as being the single, exclusive name that the Berlin square should ever have. No alternative names would be permitted for the square.

Oops, indeed.

In all fairness, there was a time when the square was indeed named Adolf-Hitler-Platz. According to The Daily Mail, the area carried that name from right around 1933 all the way to the end of World War II. Its original name, Reichskanzlerplatz, was restored in 1947. This persisted until 1963, when the square was renamed (again) following the death of Germany's first federal president, Theodor Heuss.

It's possible that the original submitter meant to suggest that the name was an alternate, historical name for the area rather than having it serve as the area's actual, displayed name. Still, it's not the kind of historical tribute (or prank) that Berlin would likely be comfortable with. According to a Google representative, the company took down the changed name shortly after it was discovered by Google Maps users. The square has since returned to its most recent name of Theodor-Heuss-Platz.

"In this particular case, the change in the street name was mistakenly approved, and we fixed it as soon as we were made aware," it added. "We apologise for any offence caused," reads a statement provided by Google.

Based on the timestamps of the edits on Google Maps itself, it appears that the incorrect name was online for approximately a day or so.

In August 2013, Google Maps was voted the world's most popular smartphone app.