You don’t have to go too far in Berlin to discover the traces and scars of the city’s history. For Ostalgie fans, nostalgic for aspects of life in East Germany, the city has a great deal to offer. For those who want to take a stroll in the footsteps of the GDR, here are a number of sights and attractions that should definitely not be missed.
February 3 would have been Hermann Henselmann’s 110th birthday. The head architect behind Strausberger Platz, Karl-Marx-Allee and Berlin’s TV Tower would have been a star in another time and place. Now it is up to us to honor his work.
image courtesy of jock+scott / photocase.de and Ringo Paulusch
Distinctive architecture attracts distinctive people. In this, Strausberger Platz is no different from Shanghai’s French Quarter or New York’s Meatpacking District. Authors, filmmakers, architects – as well as regular folk who don’t want to live somewhere regular – populate these hot spots.
In the aftermath of World War II, artists living in the Soviet-occupied zone initially aligned themselves to classical modernism. Art condemned by the Third Reich as degenerate, such as Expressionism, New Objectivity, Dadaism or avant-garde, experienced a brief renaissance. Alongside the philosopher Ernst Bloch and returning exiled writers Bert Brecht, Anna Seghers and Arnold Zweig, the former Expressionist Johannes R. Becher quickly became the central figure of cultural events.
When most people are asked about GDR architecture, their thoughts turn automatically to the extensive Plattenbau projects constructed with pre-fabricated concrete slabs. It might come as something of a surprise to hear that both the architecture and the art that came out of East Germany had much more to offer than just this. The architecture of this period gave birth to buildings with a variety of styles, many of which still adorn Berlin’s streets today.