After the withdrawal of the American troops from Berlin, the Federal Archives were given a part of the former Andrews Barracks in Berlin-Lichterfelde to use, to bring together the personnel, and archive and library material from 26 closed-down archive locations in the Berlin-Brandenburg area and in Sachsen-Anhalt. More than 90 kilometres of archive material from around 2,000 holdings from Departments R (German Reich), DDR (German Democratic Republic) and SAPMO (Foundation Archives of Parties and Mass Organisations of the GDR in the Federal Archives) as well as 1.7 million books, newspapers and periodicals are kept here for research into recent German history.
In terms of the number of staff and the floor space occupied, Berlin-Lichterfelde is the largest Federal Archives facility and is particularly heavily used. Organisational units of Departments Z (Central Administration), G (General archival matters and central technical services) and B (Federal Republic of Germany) are also located there. In 2006, Berlin-Lichterfelde became the headquarters of the Vice-President.
Just as the political history of Germany since imperial times can be seen in the holdings, the architectural history of each epoch can be seen in the grounds. The Königlich-Preußische Hauptkadettenanstalt (Royal Prussian Cadet Institute) was built here between 1873 and 1878, where from the 1890s more than 1,000 cadets received their scholastic and military training. When, in accordance with the Treaty of Versailles, all pre-military facilities had to be closed after the First World War, consideration was given to locating the newly founded Reich Archives here. In the end however, due to the pleas of local inhabitants it was decided to transform the Cadet Institute into a civil secondary school. At the end of April 1933, the later "Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler" took up residence in the barracks. Between 1937 and 1940, the buildings which form the main front to the Finckensteinallee, and which still control the entrance area, were built for the "Leibstandarte".
In April 1945 the Red Army occupied the compound and handed it over to the US armed forces in July 1945. They again used it as a barracks, renaming it the Andrews Barracks in 1947. In place of the buildings destroyed during the war, new team quarters were built in 1951, including Building 901, which now comprises a user area, workshops and offices. In the following year, the Andrews Chapel, open to all denominations, was built. This now houses the Library reading room.
Today’s usage of the buildings represents a provisional solution. The Ernst-Posner-Bau, a newly-built stacking centre with a large reception area, will in future be connected to the offices and a central user building created by renovation of the historic buildings by means of glass passageways. The usage of conventional and audio-video archive and library materials will thus be concentrated at one location in Berlin, while at the same time creating better conditions for archive-related historical teaching and other public work.
The approximately 150 workplaces in the three reading rooms for archive materials, microfilms and library materials are usually much in demand, and new findings in the files are discussed in the corridors or on the large lawns under old trees.