On August 13, 1961, under the cover of darkness, East German authorities sealed the border between East and West Berlin using a hastily constructed barbed wire fence. Over the next twenty-eight years of the Cold War, the Berlin Wall grew to become an ever-present physical and psychological divider in this capital city and a powerful symbol of Cold War tensions. Similarly, stark polarities arose in nearly every aspect of public and private life, including the built environment.
In Architecture, Politics, and Identity in Divided Berlin Emily Pugh provides an original comparative analysis of selected works of architecture and urban planning in both halves of Berlin during the Wall era, revealing the importance of these structures to the formation of political, cultural, and social identities. Pugh uncovers the roles played by organizations such as the Foundation for Prussian Cultural Heritage and the Building Academy in conveying the political narrative of their respective states through constructed spaces. She also provides an overview of earlier notable architectural works, to show the precursors for design aesthetics in Berlin at large, and considers projects in the post-Wall period, to demonstrate the ongoing effects of the Cold War.
Overall, Pugh offers a compelling case study of a divided city poised between powerful contending political and ideological forces, and she highlights the effort expended by each side to influence public opinion in Europe and around the World through the manipulation of the built environment.
What is it like to travel to Berlin today, particularly as a Jew, and bring with you the baggage of history? And what happens when an American Jew, raised by a secular family, falls in love with Berlin not in spite of his being a Jew but because of it? The answer is Berlin for Jews. Part history and part travel companion, Leonard Barkan’s personal love letter to the city shows how its long Jewish heritage, despite the atrocities of the Nazi era, has left an inspiring imprint on the vibrant metropolis of today.
Barkan, voraciously curious and witty, offers a self-deprecating guide to the history of Jewish life in Berlin, revealing how, beginning in the early nineteenth century, Jews became prominent in the arts, the sciences, and the city’s public life. With him, we tour the ivy-covered confines of the Schönhauser Allee cemetery, where many distinguished Jewish Berliners have been buried, and we stroll through Bayerisches Viertel, an elegant neighborhood created by a Jewish developer and that came to be called Berlin’s “Jewish Switzerland.” We travel back to the early nineteenth century to the salon of Rahel Varnhagen, a Jewish society doyenne, who frequently hosted famous artists, writers, politicians, and the occasional royal. Barkan also introduces us to James Simon, a turn-of-the-century philanthropist and art collector, and we explore the life of Walter Benjamin, who wrote a memoir of his childhood in Berlin as a member of the assimilated Jewish upper-middle class. Throughout, Barkan muses about his own Jewishness, while celebrating the rich Jewish culture on view in today’s Berlin.
A winning, idiosyncratic travel companion, Berlin for Jews offers a way to engage with German history, to acknowledge the unspeakable while extolling the indelible influence of Jewish culture.
Peter Schneider University of Chicago Press, 1998 Library of Congress PT2680.N37P3313 1998 | Dewey Decimal 833.914
Eduard Hoffman is a microbiologist with an interest in relationships. He believes he's found "a strain of separation virus" raging in West Berlin in 1983, which terminates every relationship within three years, 167 days, and 2 hours. As Eduard attempts to evade the virus, he tangles with Germany's Nazi guilt, memories of his father, a wayward mouse, and other threats to his identity in a divided country.
"A little Don Giovanni, a little café sociology, a little laboratory science, a little Berlin wit—it's a pleasant mix."—Suzanne Ruta, New York Times Book Review
"With its poignant valedictory to its protagonists' waning youth and its rueful placing of them in the firing line of history, Couplings achieves a balance of light and dark that is utterly persuasive."—Michael Upchurch, San Francisco Chronicle Book Review
This book explores the visual transformation of the contemporary European city, focusing on the most emblematic and visibly wounded of all European cities – Berlin.
Taking as its subject the "intricately assembled, relentlessly disassembling metropolitan screen", it charts the virulent implosions of culture, the distortions and violence that give city-living its fractured and hallucinatory quality.
Provocatively written as a series of inter-locking poetic fragments, the text evokes the formation of metropolitan "identity" as it ricochets between the physical surface of the city and the vulnerable but manipulating consciousness of city dwellers.
Barber has discovered a powerful new vocabulary – a vocabulary charged with the visual and sonic impact of the cinema. Like the city, the text pulsates, creatively chaotic, raw and exhilarating.
In the twenty years since its original publication, The Ghosts of Berlin has become a classic, an unparalleled guide to understanding the presence of history in our built environment, especially in a space as historically contested—and emotionally fraught—as Berlin. Brian Ladd examines the ongoing conflicts radiating from the remarkable fusion of architecture, history, and national identity in Berlin. Returning to the city frequently, Ladd continues to survey the urban landscape, traversing its ruins, contemplating its buildings and memorials, and carefully deconstructing the public debates and political controversies emerging from its past.
Good-bye to the Mermaids conveys the horrors of war as seen through the innocent eyes of a child. It is the story of World War II as it affected three generations of middle-class German women: Karin, six years old when the war began, who was taken in by Hitler’s lies; her mother, Astrid, a rebellious artist who occasionally spoke out against the Nazis; and her grandmother Oma, a generous and strong-willed woman who, having spent her own childhood in America, brought a different perspective to the events of the time. It tells of a convoluted world where children were torn between fear and hope, between total incomprehension of events and the need to simply deal with reality.
In one of the relatively few recollections of the war from a German woman’s perspective, Finell relates what was for her a normal part of growing up: participating in activities of the Hitler Youth, observing Nazi customs at Christmas, and once being close enough to the Führer at a rally to make eye contact with him. She tells of how she first became aware of the yellow star that Jews were forced to wear, and of being asked to identify corpses from a bombed apartment house. She also depicts the lives of people tainted by Hitler’s influence: her half-Jewish relatives who gave in to the strain of trying to remain unnoticed; a favorite aunt who was gassed because she was old and had broken her hip; and a friend of the family who was involved in the abortive putsch against Hitler and hanged as a traitor.
When American and British forces intensified air raids on Berlin in 1943, Finell observed the stoical valor of women during the bombings, firestorms, and mass evacuations. Not yet a teenager, she witnessed the battle for Berlin and the mass rapes perpetrated by conquering Russian and Mongolian troops. Order was restored after the American and British troops arrived. The Marshall Plan jump-started an economic recovery for West Germany, provoking the Russians to blockade Berlin. From 1948 to 1949 the Americans and British kept Berlin’s residents alive with the airlift. But even though food was flown in, the people of Berlin continued to go hungry. Deprivation forced Berliners to look inward and face their collective guilt as they withstood the threat of Soviet occupation during these postwar years.
This eloquent and touching story tells how a decent people were perverted by Hitler and how a young girl ultimately came to recognize the father figure Hitler for the monster he was. From a time of innocence, Karin Finell takes readers along a nightmarish journey in which fantasies are clung to, set aside, and at last set free. Good-bye to the Mermaids presents us with the revelation that human beings can survive such times with their souls intact.
New laws enacted in the wake of Hitler’s ascent to power removed all Jews from their professional workplaces and banned Jewish artists from any collaboration with their fellow citizens. In the summer of 1933, Goebbels’s Prussian Theatre Commission approved an all-Jewish theatre as part of the Kulturbund Deutscher Juden, the Cultural Association of German Jewry. This network of Jewish cultural leagues and theatre ensembles across Germany coexisted with Nazi policies against Jews until the Gestapo dissolved the theatre in 1941. Revealing the complex interplay between history and human lives under conditions of duress, Rebecca Rovit focuses on the eight-year odyssey of the Berlin Kulturbund and its theatre.
Rovit draws upon a wealth of primary documents—correspondence between the theatre and the Reich Ministry of Propaganda and Enlightenment, actual playscripts and rolebooks, production reviews and photographs, letters and memoirs, and interviews with artists who survived the war—to show how the increasingly restrictive German reality forced Jewish artists to define and redefine their identity and culture under wrenching conditions of censorship, compromise, danger, and deception. Integrating play analysis with cultural history, she considers first the playscript itself, then the playscript adapted by the Kulturbund, then the best reconstruction possible of the actual performance against its backdrop of the Third Reich. Proceeding chronologically through the playing seasons, she focuses on the actual repertoire performed (and forbidden) over the life of the Berlin Kulturbund theatre, covering the theatre’s beginnings and its first two playing seasons, then on the playing seasons that led to the Reichskristallnacht, and finally on the ways that emigration and increased censorship affected the wartime theatre’s final days.
The Kulturbund’s directors were repeatedly caught between escalating demands from their Nazi overseers and from their own Jewish constituents. By examining why and how an all-Jewish repertory theatre could coexist with the Nazi regime, Rovit raises broader questions about the nature of art in an environment of coercion and isolation, artistic integrity and adaptability, and community and identity.
Though many of the details of Jewish life under Hitler are familiar, historical accounts rarely afford us a real sense of what it was like for Jews and their families to live in the shadow of Nazi Germany’s oppressive racial laws and growing violence. With Jews in Nazi Berlin, those individual lives—and the constant struggle they required—come fully into focus, and the result is an unprecedented and deeply moving portrait of a people.
Drawing on a remarkably rich archive that includes photographs, objects, official documents, and personal papers, the editors of Jews in Nazi Berlin have assembled a multifaceted picture of Jewish daily life in the Nazi capital during the height of the regime’s power. The book’s essays and images are divided into thematic sections, each representing a different aspect of the experience of Jews in Berlin, covering such topics as emigration, the yellow star, Zionism, deportation, betrayal, survival, and more. To supplement—and, importantly, to humanize—the comprehensive documentary evidence, the editors draw on an extensive series of interviews with survivors of the Nazi persecution, who present gripping first-person accounts of the innovation, subterfuge, resilience, and luck required to negotiate the increasing brutality of the regime.
A stunning reconstruction of a storied community as it faced destruction, Jews in Nazi Berlin renders that loss with a startling immediacy that will make it an essential part of our continuing attempts to understand World War II and the Holocaust.
Annemarie Schwarzenbach Seagull Books, 2011 Library of Congress PT2605.L25L9713 2011
Annemarie Schwarzenbach—journalist, novelist, antifascist, archaeologist, and traveler—has become a European cult figure for bohemian free spirits since the rediscovery of her works in the late 1980s. Lyric Novella is her story of a young man’s obsession with a Berlin variété actress. Despite having his future career mapped out for him in the diplomatic service, the young man begins to question all his family values under Sibylle’s spell. His family, future, and social standing become irrelevant when set against his overriding compulsion to pick her up every night from the theater so they can go for a drive.
Schwarzenbach’s clear, psychologically acute prose makes this novella an evocative narrative, with many intriguing parallels to her own life. In fact, she admitted after publication that her hero was in fact a young woman, not a man, leaving little doubt that Lyric Novella is a literary tale of lesbian love during socially and politically turbulent times.
Praise for the German Edition
“The subject of Annemarie Schwarzenbach’s story is not failed love— Sibylle’s apparent emotional coldness—but the failure of love—the protagonist’s helpless inability, in the crucial moment, to accept his human responsibility toward the beloved.”— Neue Zürcher Zeitung
“The work bears the face of its time, but it is so gentle, silent and veiled that one can barely exclude the person behind the mask. A mask is in fact this face, because the hero is a heroine who does not want to be seen.”—Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
In 1948, just as the Cold War was settling into the form it would maintain for nearly half a century, major antagonists the US and the USSR began maneuvering into a series of dangerously hostile encounters. Trouble had broken out in Poland and Czechoslovakia, but it was in Germany, which had been at the heart of World Wars One and Two, that the first potentially explosive confrontation developed. The USSR, which had suffered more at Germany’s hands than the rest of the Allies combined, may have viewed developments there with heightened fear and irritability. When the western Allies moved to consolidate their areas of control in occupied Germany, the USSR responded by cutting off land access to West Berlin, holding over two million residents of that city hostage in an aggressive act of brinkmanship.
Into this difficult situation the US placed General William Henry Tunner. He was given a task that seemed doomed to failure—to supply a major city by air with everything it needed to survive from food to a winter’s supply of coal—and made it a brilliant success, astonishing the world in a major public relations defeat for the Soviets, and demonstrating the unexpected capacity of air fleets in a postwar world.
"Sace Elder has exhaustively researched both newspaper and other popular and professional treatments of murder cases and archival sources of police investigations and trials in Berlin between 1919 and 1931. Murder Scenes is an innovative and insightful exploration of the ways in which these investigations and trials, and the publicity surrounding them, reflected and shaped changing notions of normality and deviance in Weimar-era Berlin."
---Kenneth Ledford, Case Western Reserve University
Using police reports, witness statements, newspaper accounts, and professional publications, Murder Scenes examines public and private responses to homicidal violence in Berlin during the tumultuous years of the Weimar era. Criminology and police science, both of which became increasingly professionalized over the period, sought to control and contain the blurring of these boundaries but could only do so by relying on a public that was willing to participate in the project. These Weimar developments in police practice in Berlin had important implications for what Elder identifies as an emerging culture of mutual surveillance that was successful both because and in spite of the incompleteness of the system police sought to construct, a culture that in many ways anticipated the culture of denunciation in the Nazi period. In addition to historians of Weimar, modern Germany, and modern Europe, German studies and criminal justice scholars will find this book of interest.
Sace Elder is Associate Professor of History at Eastern Illinois University.
“The New Berlin is a notable contribution to human geography and to the interdisciplinary literature on social memory and place making. Till’s methods and scholarship have provided the conceptual groundwork for the exploration and development of place making, social memory, and spatial haunting through the particular practices and politics of the new Berlin. Her readable style is marked by a narrative economy in which every word and sentence serves the larger purposes of the book. I recommend this book to anyone—student, scholar, or practitioner—who is interested in the social dynamics of memory formation and place making.” —The Professional Geographer
“This book is a well-written ‘first-hand’ account, though it also thoroughly covers academic literature, contemporary news accounts, and archival records.” —German Studies Review
“Karen E. Till's The New Berlin describes the modern metropolis and the ghosts of the past that it has to deal with.” —German World
“Well illustrated and copiously footnoted, this is a cutting-edge study of the power of identity-construction/analysis. Highly recommended.” —CHOICE
This elegantly written book describes the changes in the perception and experience of the night in three great European cities: Paris, Berlin and London. The lighting up of the European city by gas and electricity in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries brought about a new relationship with the night, in respect of both work and pleasure. Nights in the Big City explores this new awareness of the city in all its ramifications.
Joachim Schlör has spent his days sifting through countless police and church archives, and first-hand accounts, and his nights exploring the highways and byways of these three great capitals. Illustrated with haunting and evocative photographs by, among others, Brandt and Kertész, and filled with contemporary literary references, Nights in the Big City has already been acclaimed in the German press as a milestone in the cultural history of the city.
"[Schlör] is erudite, and his literary style is alluring."—Architect's Journal
Matthew Mark Trumbull was a Londoner who immigrated at the age of twenty. Within ten years of his arrival in America, he had become a lawyer in Butler County, Iowa; two years later a member of the state legislature; and two years after that a captain in the Union Army. By the end of the Civil War, he was a brevet brigadier general, and in his later years he was an author and lecturer. Kenneth Lyftogt’s biography details the amazing life of this remarkable man, also shedding light on the histories of the Third Iowa Volunteer Infantry and the Ninth Iowa Volunteer Cavalry.
The story of modern Orthodox Judaism is usually told only from the perspective of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch. Ellenson’s work, a thorough examination of the life and work of one of Hirsch’s contemporaries, Rabbi Esriel Hildesheimer, reveals another important contributor to the creation of a modern Jewish Orthodoxy during the late 1800s. like Hirsch, Hildesheirmer felt the need to continue certain traditions while at the same time introducing certain innovations to meet the demands of a modern society. This original study of an Orthodox rabbinic leader shows how Hildesheirmer’s flexible and pragmatic approach to these problems continues to be relevant to modern Judaism. The way in which this book draws upon response literature for its comprehension of Hildesheimer makes it a distinctive work in modern Jewish historiography and sociology.
At the age of fifty and faced with severe depression, Salomea Genin began to write about her family's history. From stories both told and untold, Genin recreates the lives of the Zwerling family in the Jewish quarter of Lvov: Shulim, her strict and deeply religious grandfather; his patient but tired wife Dvoire; and his beautiful, rebellious daughter Shayndl, who marries a dreamer against her father's wishes and without his blessing, and who will later become Salomea Genin's mother.
Genin's richly detailed portrait shows the effects of a family's struggles--personal, religious, social, and for their very survival--against the shadow of the Nazi rise to power.
In Topographies of Class, Sabine Hake explores why Weimar Berlin has had such a powerful hold on the urban imagination. Approaching Weimar architectural culture from the perspective of mass discourse and class analysis, Hake examines the way in which architectural projects; debates; and representations in literature, photography, and film played a key role in establishing the terms under which contemporaries made sense of the rise of white-collar society.
Focusing on the so-called stabilization period, Topographies of Class maps out complex relationships between modern architecture and mass society, from Martin Wagner's planning initiatives and Erich Mendelsohn's functionalist buildings, to the most famous Berlin texts of the period, Alfred Döblin's city novel Berlin Alexanderplatz (1929) and Walter Ruttmann's city film Berlin, Symphony of the Big City (1927). Hake draws on critical, philosophical, literary, photographic, and filmic texts to reconstruct the urban imagination at a key point in the history of German modernity, making this the first study---in English or German---to take an interdisciplinary approach to the rich architectural culture of Weimar Berlin.
Sabine Hake is Professor and Texas Chair of German Literature and Culture at the University of Texas at Austin. She is the author of numerous books, including German National Cinema and Popular Cinema of the Third Reich.
Cover art: Construction of the Karstadt Department Store at Hermannplatz, Berlin-Neukölln. Courtesy Bildarchiv Preeussischer Kulturbesitz / Art Resource, NY
Traveling on One Leg
Herta Muller Northwestern University Press, 2010 Library of Congress PT2673.U29234R4513 1998 | Dewey Decimal 833.914
Winner, 2009 Nobel Prize in Literature
Irene is a fragile woman born to a German family in Romania, who has recently emigrated from her native country to West Germany. Politically and socially isolated, Irene moves within the orbit of three troubled men, while simultaneously embarking on an inner exploration of exile, homeland, and identity.
Fritzsche traces twentieth-century history through the remarkable diaries of an ordinary Berliner. Franz Göll wrote of hungry winters during WWI, the Berlin bombing, rapes by Russian soldiers, shockwaves cast by Darwin, Freud, and Einstein, the flexing of U.S. superpower, and the strange lifestyles that marked Germany's transition to modernity.
That a Jew living in Nazi Berlin survived the Holocaust at all is surprising. That he was a homosexual and a teenage leader in the resistance and yet survived is amazing. But that he endured the ongoing horror with an open heart, with love and without vitriol, and has written about it so beautifully is truly miraculous. This is Gad Beck’s story.
As sites of continual change and transformation, cities are fundamentally forgetful places. Yet at the same time, urban areas are also homes to museums and archives that collect and exhibit the past-a key cultural, political, and economic activity. This book looks at that paradox through the example of Berlin to see how the city has responded to challenges to memory created by rapid changes in politics, economics, society, and the built environment, ultimately arguing that the recovery of the experience of time is central to the practices of an emergent memory culture in the contemporary city.