Essential Architecture-  Berlin

East Berlin Hauptstadt der DDR Capitol of the GDR

architect

n/a

location

former Soviet Zone of occupation

date

1945-89

type

city
 
  The wall goes up, early 1960s. Looks like fun.
   
 
  Socialist workers' paradise....
 
  There was always a distinct lack of paint in the east.
 
  Brandenburg Gate
 
  tank traps
 
 
 
  This 1970 aerial photograph of East Berlin, was taken by Ed Branch, Lt.Colonel, US Army, retired. Rev. Branch is now a minister and lives in Raleigh, North Carolina. In the center of the photograph, you will notice a 1,100 ft. TV tower (known as the Fernsehturm in German) with a spherical structure near the top. The steel and glass ball is a natural reflector of light, and as you can see, the reflection is in the shape of a cross. The irony of this structure lies in the attempt by the then communist government to exclude all references to God and Christ from society. During the Cold War period, under Soviet occupation, East Germany, like all those behind the "iron curtain" at that time, were forced to remove God from public life. Churches were confiscated and many were turned into museums or for some other government use. This particular structure was to be a prideful symbol of East Germany's engineering expertise and ability, void of any reliance upon God, and to show the world that communism was a good thing. However, no matter how much the engineers tried to prevent the sun's light from reflecting in the form of a cross, they failed. The pope's revenge!!
 
  Strausberger Platz with constructivism style building
 
  "Hochhaus" in Weberwiese- the first high rise apartment that was built after the war
 
  Karl Marx Allee apartments
 
  GDR-era mural of Meissen porcelain on former Council of Ministers building, facing Leipziger Straße
 
  Wall plaque of Lenin, off Wilhelmstraße and Statues of Marx and Engels, Marx-Engels-Forum
   
East Berlin was the name given to the eastern part of Berlin between 1949 and 1990. It consisted of the Soviet sector of Berlin that was established in 1945. The American, British and French sectors became West Berlin, a de facto part of West Germany.

Despite its status as part of an occupied city, East Berlin was claimed as the the capital of East Germany. From August 13, 1961 until November 9, 1989 it was separated from West Berlin by the Berlin Wall. The official East German lexicon referred to East Berlin as just "Berlin" or often "Berlin, Hauptstadt der DDR" (Berlin, capital of the GDR). The term "Democratic Sector" was also used until the early - mid 1960s.

The Western Allies (the USA, Great Britain and France) never formally acknowledged the authority of the East German government to govern East Berlin; the official Allied protocol recognized only the authority of the Soviet Union in East Berlin in accordance with the occupation status of Berlin as a whole. In fact, the three Western commandants regularly protested the presence of the East German National People's Army(NPA) in East Berlin, particularly on the occasion of military parades. Nevertheless, the three Western Allies eventually established embassies in East Berlin in the 1970s, although they never recognized it as East Germany's capital. Treaties instead used terms such as "seat of government."

At the time of German reunification, East Berlin comprised the boroughs of

Friedrichshain
Hellersdorf
Hohenschönhausen
Köpenick
Lichtenberg
Marzahn
Mitte
Pankow
Prenzlauer Berg
Treptow
Weißensee
On October 3, 1990 West Germany and East Germany were united, thus formally ending the existence of East Berlin.

East Berlin today
Since reunification, the German government has spent vast amounts of money on reintegrating the two halves of the city and bringing services and infrastructure in the former East Berlin up the standard established in West Berlin. Despite this, there are still obvious differences between eastern and western Berlin. East Berlin has a distinctly different visual aspect, partly because of the greater survival of prewar facades and streetscapes, many still showing signs of wartime damage, and partly because of the distinctive style of urban architecture used in the GDR. As in other former East German cities, a small number of GDR-era names commemorating socialist heroes have been preserved, such as Karl-Marx-Allee, Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz and Karl-Liebknecht-Strasse; this followed a long process of review in which many such street names were deemed inappropriate and were changed.

links

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