Trying to Save Berlin Relic From the Dustbin
But by any standard, the Palace of the Republic here is a particularly tough case. Opened in 1976 as the home of the East German Parliament, the huge steel-and-concrete building, clad in bronze-colored windows, has become an emblem of a failed ideology. The government padlocked it soon after reunification of the two Germanys in 1990, gutted its interiors toward the end of the decade and has since been trying to tear down what's left of it. Now, after years of delays, demolition could begin as early as this month. Yet in the last year or so, a growing chorus of voices has been rising in defense of the building.
These are not grizzled old Communists hoping for a return to the glory days of socialism. They are architectural activists, mainly in their late 30's and early 40's, who refuse to see the Palace in purely ideological terms. Less dogmatic than their elders, they have cited elements of the building's beauty that many Germans - conditioned by decades of cold war oratory - find difficult to to see.
Their cause is broader than a single building: it is a revolt against historical censorship. Like preservationists struggling to save 2 Columbus Circle in New York or late-Soviet landmarks in Moscow, they are fighting those who insist on pitting history against modernity, people who would seek to smooth over historical contradictions in favor of a more simplistic narrative. Their battleground is the world their parents left them: the oft-maligned Modernist buildings of the 1960's and 70's.
comments powered by Disqus
- Number of women leaders around the world has grown, but they’re still a small group
- Say goodbye to the weirdest border dispute in the world
- Harvard acquires Thoreau's notes on the death of Margaret Fuller
- It’s a national historic site, but hardly anybody visits the Idaho internment camp where thousands of Japanese Americans were incarcerated in WW II
- Big-time Hollywood director makes a movie about Stonewall
- Richard Rothstein says government policy created ghettos
- The Islamic historian who can explain why some states fail and others succeed
- High school senior credited with debunking book by Professor Richard Jensen
- Historians at loggerheads over the AP standards
- Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems