Posts Tagged ‘Humboldt Forum’

Berlin’s “Citizens in Motion” memorial

Monday, October 2nd, 2017

 

Berlin’s impending “Citizens in Motion” – Buerger in Bewegung – memorial will commemorate the protest movement that toppled the East German communist regime and led to the reunification of Germany in 1990. In June 2017, more than a quarter of a century later, a memorial to freedom and unity received final approval by the Bundestag (lower House of the German Parliament). The monument is expected to open in 2019, the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

What the Citizens in Motion memorial will look like

Citizens in Motion will consist of a steel bowl-shaped structure, 180 feet in length and 60 feet across. Inscribed with Wir sind das Volk (We are the people) and Wir sind ein Volk (We are one people), the memorial honors the men and women who caused the Berlin Wall to fall in 1989 and led to the German reunification one year later. The structure will hold up to 1400 people. When at least 20 more people stand on one half of the structure as opposed to the other half, the bowl will gently tip to one side, similar to a teeter-totter. The visitors themselves then become an active part of the monument.

 

Berlin's planned "Citizens in Motion memorial to commemorate the men and women who who caused the Berlin Wall to fall in 1989 and led to the German reunification one year later. Rendering: Milla & Partner. www.walled-in-berlin.com

Berlin’s impending “Citizens in Motion” memorial, which commemorates the men and women who caused the Berlin Wall to fall in 1989 and led to the German reunification one year later. Rendering: Milla & Partner. www.walled-in-berlin.com

Concept of Citizens in Motion

Memorials are normally passive objects of contemplation. Citizens in Motion will be interactive. The monument will come to life when people gather on it. Designed by Stuttgart-based architect Johannes Milla & Partner and Berlin choreographer Sasha Waltz, Citizens in Motion is designed to illustrate how people have to act in concert to effect change.

As the East German economy crumbled and people fled to the West, the East German people began to hold gigantic, non-violent, pro-democracy demonstrations, which led to the fall of Berlin Wall and the socialist government. Then another enormous task faced the German people: Bringing together two Germanys, which, despite a common language, had experienced dramatically different political and economic realities for over 40 years. The road to a German memorial to commemorate freedom and unity was equally difficult. Everything from design, location and cost was controversial. The ensuing debates demonstrated that freedom and unity require participation and interaction. http://www.dw.com/en/bundestag-gives-green-light-to-controversial-german-reunification-monument/a-39093773

Where will the Citizens in Motion memorial be located?

Citizens in Motion will be positioned in front of the Berliner Stadtschloss (Berlin City Palace) in the city’s historic center. The Berlin City Palace is currently undergoing reconstruction and will house the Humboldt Forum when completed. Read: Berliner Stadtschloss to Humboldt Forum The original Berliner Stadtschloss was demolished by the East German regime in 1950 to make way for the Palast der Republik (Palace of the Republic), the East German parliament. Read: The Palace of the Republic lives on In 1989, the square in front of the Palace of the Republic was a site of mass demonstrations, which contributed to the collapse of the Berlin Wall.

 

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

 

Berlin’s Humboldt Box

Monday, June 27th, 2016

The Humboldt Box in Berlin is a temporary information center and exhibition space for the Humboldt Forum reconstruction project. The Forum will occupy the site of the former Berliner Stadtschloss (Berlin City Palace), http://www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/berliner-stadtschloss-to-humboldt-forum/, which gave way to the Palast der Republik (Palace of the Republic) in the 1970’s. http://www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/the-palast-der-republik-lives-on/. Both edifices were eventually razed for various reasons.

The reconstructed City Palace – renamed Humboldt Forum – will serve as a cultural center. Its exterior will resemble the former Stadtschloss; its interior will be modern. An extension of Berlin’s State Museums and Humboldt University, the Humboldt Forum is currently under construction with an anticipated completion date of 2019. Upon completion of the Forum, the Humboldt Box will be dismantled.

Why the Humboldt Box?

The idea of the Humboldt Box is based on a similar structure that once stood at the Potsdamer Platz when that area underwent extensive construction. That structure was called the “Info Box.” Its purpose was to raise public awareness of the Potsdamer-Platz-project. The plan succeeded and the Info Box attracted close to  nine million visitors. Similarly, the Humboldt Box, which opened in 2011, now ranks among the city’s top attractions.

What is on Display in the Humboldt Box?

Spread across 32,000 feet and five floors are a number of exhibition and event spaces, a video screening area, a gift shop, a restaurant and large terraces overlooking the construction site and the central city.

On the first floor, the Stiftung Berliner Schloss-Humboldt Forum, (Foundation Berlin Palace-Humboldtforum) outlines the history of the site and the plans for its development. Also highlighted is the hi-tech construction technology used in the project. A tremendously detailed, large-scale model of “Berlin around 1900” is on display. It was created and donated by Horst Duehring.

Model of "Berlin around 1900" on display at the Humboldt Box. The model was created and donated by Horst Duehring. Photo © J. Elke Ertle, April 2016, www.walled-in-berlin.com

Model of “Berlin around 1900” on display at the Humboldt Box. The model was created and donated by Horst Duehring. Photo © J. Elke Ertle, April 2016, www.walled-in-berlin.com

On the second and third floors, the Ethnological Museum, the Museum for Asian Art and the Humboldt University outline their plans for the Forum and exhibit part of their collections.

The fourth floor is reserved for private events.

On the fifth floor visitors can relax in the restaurant while taking in the panoramic view across the construction site and Museum Island. http://www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/berlins-museum-island/

 

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

 

The Palast der Republik lives on

Monday, June 20th, 2016

Berlin’s Palast der Republik (Palace of the Republic) and the Berliner Stadtschloss (Berlin City Palace) shared the same physical site at different points in history. Located at the Schlossplatz, across from the Berlin Cathedral and the Lustgarten, the former Stadtschloss served as royal residence during the Prussian era. In 1950, East Germany’s socialist government demolished the symbol of Prussian imperialism and constructed the Palace of the Republic on the same spot a quarter of a century later. In 2008, it too was razed. The government of the reunited Germany leveled it because the structure was contaminated with asbestos. In 2013, reconstruction of the exterior of the former Stadtschloss began. The new building is scheduled to open in 2019 as the “Humboldt Forum.” http://www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/berliner-stadtschloss-to-humboldt-forum/

Palast der Republic (Palace of the Republic), image by www.spiegel.de

Palast der Republik (Palace of the Republic), image by www.spiegel.de

Function of the Palast der Republik

The Palast der Republik http://www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/palace-of-the-republic/ was an East German prestige project. The contemporary structure, covered almost entirely in brown mirror-glass, was not only the seat of the former East German Parliament; it also served as a cultural center, a “Peoples House.” In addition to two large auditoriums, it housed a theatre, art galleries, restaurants, cafés, a post office, a bowling alley, a giant dance floor and a discothèque. Important events at the Palace of the Republic included party congresses of the Socialist Unity Party (SED), East Germany’s 40th anniversary state gala in 1989, which Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev attended, and concerts of famous orchestras such as the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig. http://www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/gewandhaus-garment-hall-to-concert-hall/

Debate over the fate of the Palast der Republik

Following the discovery after German reunification in 1990 that the building was heavily contaminated with asbestos, the Palast der Republik was slated for demolition. A fierce debate ensued. Some former East German citizens had fond memories of the building; others wanted to get rid of this symbol of the former Communist regime. The majority of East Germans agreed on one thing: They opposed tearing down the Palace of the Republic because it represented a part of East Germany’s history. Eventually, the parliament of the reunited Germany decided to demolish the building. They stated that the decision was based on cost considerations.

Reuse of components of the Palast der Republik

Between 25,000 and 35,000 tons of steel were salvaged during the demolition of the Palace of the Republic. The steel was shipped to various sites, but mainly to Dubai for the construction of the Burj Khalifai, the world’s tallest skyscraper. A small amount of steel was used to make Volkswagen engines. Granite slabs from the Palast der Republik line a skate park in Berlin-Tempelhof. http://www.uncubemagazine.com/blog/10642637

 

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

Berliner Stadtschloss to Humboldt Forum

Monday, June 13th, 2016

The Berliner Stadtschloss (Berlin City Palace) dates back to 1443. It was the residence of the Margraves of Brandenburg, Prussian Kings and German Emperors. More than 60 years after its demolition, the exterior of the Berliner Stadtschloss is now being reconstructed in all its former grandeur. Called not Stadtschloss but “Humboldt Forum,” the building is scheduled to open in 2019 and will serve as Berlin’s new cultural center.

Berliner Stadtschloss - now Humboldt Forum - under construction in April 2016, photo © J. Elke Ertle, www.walled-in-berlin.com

Berliner Stadtschloss – now Humboldt Forum – under construction in April 2016, photo © J. Elke Ertle, www.walled-in-berlin.com

Location of the Berliner Stadtschloss

The Berliner Stadtschloss, Germany’s equivalent of Buckingham Palace, was located at the Schlossplatz in the historical core of Berlin, opposite the Lustgarten and the Berlin cathedral. Following the division of Berlin http://www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/berlin-blockade-and-the-Cold-War/ the City Palace ended up in the Soviet sector of the city.

History of the Berliner Stadtschloss

At the turn of the 18th century, Frederick III – Elector of Brandenburg and later Prussia’s first King – chose architect and sculptor Andreas Schlueter to turn the existing 15th century medieval castle into a majestic City Palace. Toward the end of World War II, the grand structure was seriously damaged. Although repair was possible, the socialist regime of East Germany preferred to divest itself of this symbol of Prussian imperialism. In 1950, therefore, the Berliner Stadtschloss was demolished. In 1976 a new and contemporary edifice rose in its place, the Palace of the Republic (Palast der Republik). http://www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/the-palast-der-republik-lives-on/

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, it was discovered that the Palace of the Republic contained 5,000 tons of asbestos. In 2008, it shared the fate of the royal residence, and the Palace of the Republic – palace for the people – was also demolished. Following countless fierce debates over what should happen to the now empty site, the parliament of reunited Germany decided to reconstruct the City Palace. However, only the original three baroque façades of the old Berliner Stadtschloss facing north, west, and south will be reconstructed. The Renaissance front facing east will be more contemporary because there is insufficient documentation relative to its original appearance.

Humboldt Forum

Since Germany hasn’t had a monarchy for almost 100 years, the newly reconstructed Berliner Stadtschloss will not serve as a royal residence. Instead, it will be a museum and a venue for public events and exhibitions. Its name is a reference to the legacy of the brothers Alexander von Humboldt (the explorer) and Wilhelm (the diplomat). At the start of the 19th century, the Humboldt brothers did groundbreaking work in researching foreign cultures. The Humboldt Forum will house non-European exhibits and arts to complement nearby Museum Island http://www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/berlins-museum-island/, which houses European history. The various collections will be presented and interpreted together as part of a shared cultural heritage.

 

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