Palace of the Republic

Berlin’s Palace of the Republic — Palast der Republik — was the seat of the legislature of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) from 1976 to 1990. Constructed between 1973 and 1976, the exterior of this cubic building was defined by its distinctive bronze mirrored windows and the interior by its unique multi-purpose concept.

House of the People

When the East German government decided to build the Palace of the Republic in the 70s, the country was hurting financially and could barely afford the construction. Nonetheless, East Germany built the most modern cultural building in all of Europe at the time. One part of the building housed the People’s Chamber, the legislature of the East German government. The other served a multitude of cultural purposes as the House of the People. Here citizens could visit art galleries, a theater, a bowling alley, a post office, a discotheque and thirteen restaurants. Cultural, political, academic, and social events at the Palace of the Republic included famous concerts and events, party congresses and even the state gala on the eve of the 40th anniversary of the German Democratic Republic in October 1989, which was attended by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. It is difficult to image nowadays that ordinary people would be allowed to be entertained within meters of government being conducted. I think it would be a security agent’s worst nightmare.

Former Stadtschloss

The Palace of the Republic was not the original building on this site however. The location had once been home to the former Berlin City Palace–Berliner Stadtschloss–an edifice dating back to the Prussian-era. In 1950, the East German government demolished this heavily World War II-damaged building to make room for the Palast der Republik. But just prior to German reunification in 1990, the modern monument to the people had to be closed to the public because of asbestos contamination. By 2003, the asbestos was declared removed, but soon more was found. It was then that the German parliament voted to demolish the Palace of the Republic altogether. The action ran against the opposition of many former East Germans, and what was to be constructed in its place became the subject of many heated debates. http://www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/the-palast-der-republik-lives-on/

Humboldtforum

Eventually, the German government decided to rebuild the Prussian-era Stadtschloss, not the Palace of the Republic. Its last vestiges were removed in 2008. http://www.bundestag.de/kulturundgeschichte/geschichte/schauplaetze/palast/index.html

Construction of a new Stadtschloss began in 2013. It will be called the Humboldtforum http://www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/berliner-stadtschloss-to-humboldt-forum/and house the Humboldt collection and gallery of non-European art. Three facades of the new palace will be exact replicas of the Prussian-era Stadtschloss, but the interior will be a modern one. Construction is in progress and is expected be completed in 2019.

 

For a sneak peek at the first 20+ pages of my memoir, Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom, click “Download a free excerpt” on the home page of http://www.walled-in-berlin.com

 

 

 

 

 

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