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Architecture, Politics, and Identity in Divided Berlin

Architecture, Politics, and Identity in Divided Berlin

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    Architecture, Politics, and Identity in Divided Berlin
    Book Description:

    On August 13, 1961, under the cover of darkness, East German authorities sealed the border between East and West Berlin using a hastily constructed barbed wire fence. Over the next twenty-eight years of the Cold War, the Berlin Wall grew to become an ever-present physical and psychological divider in this capital city and a powerful symbol of Cold War tensions. Similarly, stark polarities arose in nearly every aspect of public and private life, including the built environment.InArchitecture, Politics, and Identity in Divided BerlinEmily Pugh provides an original comparative analysis of selected works of architecture and urban planning in both halves of Berlin during the Wall era, revealing the importance of these structures to the formation of political, cultural, and social identities. Pugh uncovers the roles played by organizations such as the Foundation for Prussian Cultural Heritage and the Building Academy in conveying the political narrative of their respective states through constructed spaces. She also provides an overview of earlier notable architectural works, to show the precursors for design aesthetics in Berlin at large, and considers projects in the post-Wall period, to demonstrate the ongoing effects of the Cold War.Overall, Pugh offers a compelling case study of a divided city poised between powerful contending political and ideological forces, and she highlights the effort expended by each side to influence public opinion in Europe and around the World through the manipulation of the built environment.

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-7957-9
    Subjects: Architecture and Architectural History, History

Table of Contents

  1. INTRODUCTION: Divided Capital, Dividing Capital
    (pp. 1-18)

    On August 13, 1961, in the middle of the night, the East German government closed the border between East and West Berlin, halting people, cars, and trams in their tracks and sealing off the western sectors of the city with barbed wire. The acrimony between the eastern and western Cold War powers had been growing since the end of World War II, yet the intracity border closure had not been foreseen by citizens on either side of the barricade, and it caught western governments in particular by surprise.¹ The rulers of East Germany declared that, with the border secured against...

  2. ONE MODERN CAPITAL, DIVIDED CAPITAL: Berlin before the Wall
    (pp. 19-61)

    The myriad divisions established in Germany throughout the postwar years, from political to cultural to economic, followed to a large extent the fault lines of existing fissures within the country. Many of these divisions centered on Berlin, which, by the twentieth century, had gained a reputation as a city of extremes. It was famously populated with members of theJunkerclass of politically and socially conservative Prussian landowners, yet its Red City Hall (Rotes Rathaus) was so named both for the color of its bricks and the radical politics practiced within. It was well known as a center of both...

  3. TWO A CAPITAL WITHOUT A COUNTRY: Shaping West Berlin’s Image in the Early Cold War
    (pp. 62-105)

    In the late 1950 s, the debate over the Berlin Question became increasingly contentious, further heightening the political and symbolic import of the divided city and of the efforts to rebuild it. The United States relied increasingly on divided Berlin and its image to define the terms of the Cold War and its own position within it. In the words of US president John F. Kennedy, Berlin was not merely one of many Cold War battles but “the great testing place of Western courage and will, a focal point where our solemn commitments stretching back over the years since 1945...

    (pp. 106-154)

    Newspapers published by the Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands (SED, or Socialist Unity Party) hailed August 13, 1961, as a victory for East Germany. The German Democratic Republic (GDR), it was claimed, had neutralized the western threat, shutting out the “imperialist aggressors” who had waged economic war against the east and were no doubt planning a military invasion. Although there was some protest by East Berliners, the effort to quash it was great and ultimately overwhelmed any resistance. During the latter half of 1961, for example, twenty thousand persons were arrested and condemned as “political offenders” (Staatsverbrecher), while only forty-five hundred had...

  5. FOUR THE DREAMED-OF GDR: Public Space, Private Space, and National Identity in the Honecker Era
    (pp. 155-199)

    In May 1971, Walter Ulbricht declared that he would be giving up his duties as first secretary of the Central Committee, an announcement that came as a surprise to the East German public. For his replacement, he endorsed Erich Honecker, a high-ranking member of the Central Committee generally acknowledged to be second in command of the Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands (SED, or Socialist Unity Party). Ulbricht resigned a month later, supposedly out of a desire to retire from public life; in fact, Ulbricht had been deposed by rivals, a group that included Honecker himself. Backed by the Soviet Union and its...

  6. FIVE CAPITAL OF THE COUNTERCULTURE: West Berlin and the Changing Divides of the Cold War West
    (pp. 200-240)

    In the 1950s and 1960s, US and West German foreign policies and US-authored propaganda had framed West Berlin as both an autonomous and an international city. In such depictions, West Berlin was established as the capital of the Cold War west and was at the same time “America’s Berlin”; it was half of an occupied whole and was waiting to assume its “true” role as capital of a unified Germany. However, by the late 1970s, with the possibility of Germany’s reunification appearing remote and the effects of isolation more apparent, West Berlin was increasingly defined instead by divisions, tensions, and...

  7. SIX BACK TO THE CENTER: Restoring West Berlin’s Image and Identity
    (pp. 241-282)

    By the late 1970 s, West Berlin’s reputation as a center of protest and dissent was firmly established in much of the western public’s imagination. Although issues such as lack of housing, rising numbers of immigrants, drug abuse, and high unemployment presented challenges in cities throughout West Germany, the public there viewed West Berlin as uniquely afflicted with these problems. They were encouraged in this regard by press accounts, which painted a picture of the city as aberrant, pushed far outside the mainstream by its corrupt government and by its fractious citizenry and the values they espoused. The image of...

  8. SEVEN COLLAPSING BORDERS: Housing, Berlin’s 750th Anniversary, and the End of the GDR
    (pp. 283-328)

    If, speaking broadly, the 1960 s for East Germans had been characterized by a cautious hope and push for reform within the socialist system and the 1970s, by resignation and strategies of accommodation, the 1980s were marked by widespread frustration and despair followed by resistance.

    The problems that had long plagued the GDR did not lessen or improve in the later years of Honecker’s regime but instead grew worse. The kinds of sweeping reforms that were needed to correct the country’s deep, systemic problems were deemed too costly by the SED, requiring it to relinquish funds it did not have...

  9. CONCLUSION: Constructing the Capital of the Berlin Republic
    (pp. 329-340)

    During the Cold War, rhetoric in the east and west had attempted to draw clear lines of political, cultural, and economic division. In 1989–90, the collapse of the SED regime and the Volkskammer’s subsequent decision to dissolve the GDR and become part of the Federal Republic seemed to confirm the veracity of this rhetoric. Newspaper articles covering the historic night when East Germans were first allowed to cross the intra-Berlin border freely reflect the internalization of the western narrative of the Cold War, painting a portrait of East Germans who were finally able to visit a “forbidden land” after...

  10. APPENDIX: Governing Entities and Nomenclature, 1949–1989
    (pp. 341-346)