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2009: Visiting Berlin

Live Blog Online, Flyer


You can find further background information, reflections, and discussions about our seminar and the field trips to Berlin and Washington on our live blog. Click here. In addition to the following trip log you can download a PDF flyer that contents an overview of the whole program. 

Monday, March 16th: (Historical) Orientation

"Scavenger Hunt" Through Berlin


We had prepared a full agenda already for the first day. In the early morning began our "scavenger hunt" through Berlin despite jet lag ouf our guests. During the hunt they got first impressions and saw different neighborhoods of the city. A first (historical) orientation.

Walking Tour Through Historical Berlin (Part I)


After a rich lunch in "Brauhaus Mitte" Hans showed us known and unknown places, visible and nearly vanished vestiges of old Berlin. A journey along the historical bounds of Berlin.

Thematic Tour: "Bars, Culture, and Commerce in Mitte"


How has the district Mitte around Hackescher Markt changed within the last twenty years? Who is living and working in the trendy old buildings, who benefits from the current developments - and who not? During our walk we were looking for answers to these questions.

Tuesday, March 17th: Nazi, GDR, Postwar Modern

Berliner Unterwelten Tour: "U-Bahn, Bunkers and the Cold War"


The program of our second day began in front of an inconspicuous bunker door, not far away from Gesundbrunnen station. A member of Berliner Unterwelten guided us through a labyrinth of old air raide and fallout shelters. This authentic location showed us impressively Berlins special role and position in the period of the cold war.

Thematic Walk Thorugh Hansa Quarter


The old Hansa quarter, partly demolished during the war, was completely torn down to provide space for the international building exhibition IBA in 1957 and its vision of a modern city. Carla guided us through this "city of tomorrow".

Karl-Marx-Allee "Stalinist Architecture and International Modern"


Karl-Marx-Allee, former Stalinallee, is almost today an impressive example for the Stalinist architecture of the early 1950s. Stalinallee was planned as a starting point of a new and great socialist Berlin. However, the representative boulevard is also a symbol for a total break with the Stalinist tradition in the late 1950s. The buildings of the second construction section show consequently the iconography of International Modern architecture. We explored the ensemble during a short tour around Strausberger Platz and Kino International.

Tour Through the Finance Ministry


Nazi megalomania and planned economy in the GDR: The huge complex at the corner Leipziger Straße and Wilhelmstraße was erected as Göhring's aviation ministry in the 1930s. Immediately after the war the headquarters of the Sowiets were located here, later on it was the seat of Deutsche Wirtschaftskommission (German Commitee for Economy). During the GDR it was used as the "House of Ministries", in 1990 the GDR privatization agency moved in. Today the whole complex is used a the German Finance Ministry. During a great tour through the building we got a lot of information about these historical periods and their relation to the building.

"Socialist Housing" - Tour Around Platz der Vereinten Nationen


The ensemble at former Leninplatz was erected in the 1970s. Compared to various projects of the 1970s and 1980s it is an unusual example for GDR urban planning on a high aesthetic level. A guided tour by Carla.

Thematic Tour: "Ghetto Neukölln?!"


On the one hand Neukölln is often used as a synonym for social decline and ethnic conflicts. On the other hand Neukölln is becoming a hotspot and trendy location for creative professionals and students. We wanted to get an own picture of these processes - accompanied by a perfect Turkish dinner and beer from Neukölln.

Wednesday, March 18: The Hinterland, Potsdam

Olympic Stadium


Olympic games 1936 - world cup 2006. By S-Bahn we went to Berlin's Olympic stadium. On the spot we had a discussion about the history of the stadium, its architectural design and its transformation to a multifunction arena.

Palace and Sanssouci Park - Tour & Discussion


After visiting the stadium we continued our journey and reached Potsdam. Gabriele Horn is the chief conservator of the Prussian Palaces and Gardens Foundations Berlin-Brandenburg. She informed us about current protection and preservations problems in Sanssouci and the other parts of Potsdam's UNESCO ensemble. After the talk we walked through some parts of the garden and castle complex.

Tour Through the Old Town of Potsdam


Our Sanssouci tour was followed by a guided walk. Alicia is of course from Potsdam, she showed us the main sights of the old city and the Dutch quarter.

Thursday, March 19th: "The Divided City"

Bike Tour of Wall


By bike along the Wall: From our starting point Warschauer Brücke we went to the famous East Side Gallery, the longest remaining stretch of the Wall. Followed by a route through Engelsbecken, Check Point Charlie and Topography of Terror. After a short break at Potsdamer Platz we rode by bike to Brandenburg Gate and the former checkpoint Invalidenstraße.

Wall Documentation Center


The final destination of our tour was the Wall Documentation Center at Bernauer Straße and the Chapel of Reconciliation that was built instead of the old Church of Reconciliation. The church was located on the so called "Death Stripe" and was therefore razed in 1985.

Stasi Headquarters Normannenstraße


Late afternoon, trip to Lichtenberg: Here we learnt more about GDR's secret police "Staatsicherheit" (Stasi) and Erich Mielke's empire at Normannenstraße. During a tour we had the chance to see his nearly overmodest office.

Thematic Tour: "Clubs & Bars in Kreuzberg"


A thematic tour around Oranienstraße in SO 36 neighborhood, the multicultural heart of Kreuzberg. Before Dorit arranged a movie night and a discussion at her flat. The movies showed Kreuzberg's history and its role as a center for alternative lifestyles.

Friday, March 20th "New Berlin - Government District"

Lines 100 & 200: Bus Ride Through Berlin


In the morning of our last day we left for a ride with the famous bus lines no. 100 and 200. A tour with these buses is a must-do for every Berlin visitor.

Walking Tour Through Historical Berlin (Part II)


At Schlossplatz Hans continued his walk through historical Berlin. We discovered the baroque city extensions Friedrich- and Dorotheenstadt, on the way we took a look at the new town houses at Werderscher Markt. We had an animated discussion about intention, function, and style of these new built houses.

Senate Commitee for Urban Planning


Inside of the main building of the Senate Committee for Urban Planning we visited the large-sized city models of Berlin. We talked with Manfred Kühne, department head of urban development, about Berlin's urban developments in the future.

Holocaust Memorial


On our last day we went also to the Memorial of the Murdered Jews of Europe. The memorial  in the center of Berlin is Germany's central Holocaust memorial site and was opened in 2005. The Memorial consists of the Field of Stelae designed by architect Peter Eisenman and the underground Information Centre.

Past & Present at Potsdamer Platz


Before World War II the Potsdamer Platz was reputed to be the busiest square in Europe, a symbol of the Roaring Twenties. After war and construction of the Wall the square became shabby and sad waste land. Nowadays, the restored square is edged by mini skyscrapers, offices, and a shopping mall. We analyzed critically the history and present of Potsdamer Platz.

Safari Through Tiergarten


In the meantime the sun had sunk beyond the horizon. We started a short night safari through the dark Tiergarten. This park is an importan green lung for the city. Our tour ended at the Sowiet Memorial at Straße des 17. Junis.

Visit to Reichstag Cupola


And as grand finale of our program we took the chance to visit the roof terrace and dome of the Reichstag Building. We enjoyed the night-time view over Berlin's center.

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