Babylon Berlin: A Deeper Look at German Roots

Producer Stefan Arndt (with award) and the cast and crew of “TV Series of the Year” winner Babylon Berlin are seen on stage during the 70th Bambi Awards show on Nov. 16, 2018, in Berlin, Germany.
Robert Schlesinger/Getty Images

Babylon Berlin: A Deeper Look at German Roots

A noir television series unwittingly connects German society with a predecessor much older than Weimar.

People in more than 35 countries are watching a hit German television series called Babylon Berlin. The show is filled with deception, crime, sex and violence. What makes the phenomenon of this show’s popularity interesting, however, is the real-life connection between Berlin and Babylon—past and future.

The last season of this “mature”-rated historical crime drama was sold into more than 35 countries, and it is now entering its fourth season. Based on novels by German author Volker Kutscher, it takes place in 1929 in Germany’s Weimar Republic. This was a time of great uncertainty in Germany and looming radical change. The producers describe the period this way: “Speculation and inflation are already tearing away at the foundations of the still young Weimar Republic. Growing poverty and unemployment stand in stark contrast to the excesses and indulgence of the city’s nightlife and its overflowing creative energy.”

In March 2018, the Washington Post characterized it as a show of classic Weimar stereotypes: “Flapper girls and Nazi stormtroopers, prostitutes and proletarians, jazz troupes and jackboots.”

The plot of the third season revolved around a young police officer who was transferred from Cologne to Berlin to solve a criminal case that involved a “pornography ring run by the Berlin mafia.” The young man soon finds himself confronted with “a tangled web of corruption, drug dealing, and weapons trafficking, forcing him into an existential conflict as he is torn between loyalties and uncovering the truth.”

But why the title Babylon Berlin?

The Bible calls Babylon a “whore” because of the city’s immorality. The filmmakers saw the Bible’s description and the historical account as a perfect description of Weimar Berlin. “This Berlin is a Moloch; sin, corruption and violence lurk around every corner, as in the myth surrounding the biblical city,” cultural journalist Jens Balkenborg noted.

That Babylonian spirit in Berlin during this time period ranged from architecture, ornamentation, art and even the naming of structures, such as the Kino Babylon theater, which opened in 1929. (Fittingly, on Feb. 10, 2016, the primary actors of Babylon Berlin were publicly presented in that theater.) If you visit Berlin today, the city’s connection to Babylon is on vivid display at the Pergamon Museum, which houses the famous Babylonian Ishtar Gate.

Through Babylon Berlin, Germans—wittingly or not—are reminded of their ancestors’ history. But not just from the Weimar Republic.

The people who settled in Central Europe and became known as Germans had migrated in ancient times from the land of Assyria (read “The Remarkable Identity of the German People”). The Assyrian Empire had adopted many practices from the Babylonian Empire. The fact that the Germans descended from the ancient Assyrians makes the Babylon Berlin phenomenon all the more interesting.

Babylon and Assyria were contemporary empires in ancient Mesopotamia, the region of modern Iraq. Both were successful in conquering other kingdoms, establishing trade and amassing wealth. With few natural borders and aggressive ambition, Assyrians were constantly at war. “In such an atmosphere,” historian Will Durant wrote in Our Oriental Heritage, “the only science that flourished was that of war; Assyrian medicine was merely Babylonian medicine; Assyrian astronomy was merely Babylonian astrology—the stars were studied chiefly with a view of divination.”

Assyria’s educational system was a largely Babylonish educational system. The Assyrian capital of Nineveh contained thousands of clay tablets from Babylon and Sumer. Around 1728–1686 b.c. Assyria was conquered and became a vassal state of Babylon under King Hammurabi of Babylon. Babylon quickly rose to become the political and commercial center of the Tigris-Euphrates area.

That changed when Shalmaneser i (1274–1245 b.c.) rose to power in Assyria and declared independence from Babylon and supremacy over western Asia. His son Tukulti-Ninurta i conquered Babylon. During his reign, Assyrians learned about Babylonian politics and laws.

Assyria and Babylon also share the same religious roots. In the second generation after the Flood, a man named Nimrod organized people into cities such as Babylon and Nineveh. As the late theologian Herbert W. Armstrong explained in Mystery of the Ages, Nimrod became their god, and after his death his wife Semiramis carried the religion forward and thus became the founder of much of the world’s pagan religions, in contrast to the religion of the Bible. As Alexander Hislop explained in The Two Babylons, much of the same religious system continues to exist in modern Europe today and in different forms around the world. “Even such so-called Christian observances as Christmas, New Year’s and Easter emerged from the false religious system she developed,” Mr. Armstrong wrote.

Assyrians were some of the first to pick up the so-called “Christianity” that originated in Rome, because it was not much different from their own religion. It is therefore unsurprising that the celebration of the modern Easter feast, that highlights the fertility of rabbits, has a lot to do with the worship of the Babylonian goddess of Ishtar, the goddess of fertility, and almost nothing with the biblical Passover. (Request a free copy Pagan Holidays—or God’s Holy Days—Which? to learn more about the pagan origin of many of today’s holidays.)

Astoundingly, the Bible reveals in Revelation 17, that the Babylonian system would again be revived in modern Europe. Revelation 18:10 is a prophecy of the coming judgment of the Babylonian system that is yet to be fulfilled: “Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.”

This is not a prophecy for ancient Babylon but for those who continue its tradition. In the Plain Truth, August 1959, Herbert W. Armstrong stated concerning the reference to Babylon in Revelation 18: “Notice that this final union of 10 nations in Europe is called by the prophetic name ‘Babylon’ (verse 2). It is merely the continuation of the ancient Babylonish system—a union of politics and religion and great economic cartels whose purpose is to rule the world!”

Babylon Berlin highlights Germany’s historic connection to “mystery, Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and abomination of the earth” (Revelation 17:5) and the prophesied revival of this political-religious system. It also points to the many prophecies that speak of Babylon’s coming destruction and how it will soon be replaced by God’s true religion. To learn more about this fascinating history and these most hopeful prophecies, request a free copy of Mr. Armstrong’s greatest work, Mystery of the Ages.