Wednesday, July 27, 2011

How’d That Work Out for Ya?

27 July 1961:

East Berlin to be Rebuilt Into Red Super-Metropolis

BERLIN (NANA) – East Germany plans to rebuild Communist East Berlin as the showcase capital of the German Communist state and an architectural counter-attraction to West Berlin.
Walter Ulbricht, the East German leader, revealed that cornerstones for a complex of government buildings at Marx-Engels Square as a feature of signing ceremonies for a Soviet-East German peace treaty.

East Germany has conducted an architectural competition for the designing of the “ultra modern socialist metropolis.” Professor Max Hensermann, the architect in charge, says East Germany decided against imitating Moscow architecture.
“There are many forms of functional socialist architecture, and we will choose those forms best suited to East Berlin,” Henselmann said.

In 1953 East Germany began construction of the Stalin Allee, a gaudy boulevard designed as a propaganda façade for the rubble and ramshackle structures which make East Berlin and eyesore.
This avenue of “Moscow Modern” apartment buildings and luxury shops now stretches for nearly a mile along the pre-war Frankfurter Allee. It is to be extended to the Alexanderplatz.
But future new construction will deviate sharply from the Rococo and gingerbread of “Moscow Modern.” Henselmann indicated that the east Germans have decided on a modified Le Corbusier functional architecture with flowing lines.

The Marx-Engels Square, the pre-Communist Lustgarten, will house government offices, in effect replacing the pre-war Wilhelmstrasse and Leipzigerstrasse.
Foreign embassies will again be concentrated at the western end of Unter Den Linden, the famous Linden tree-lined avenue containing Humboldt (Berlin) University, the State Opera, and principal museums.
Since the war the Soviets have built a mammoth embassy near the former site of the U.S., British, and French embassies. The East German regime has now reserved a large tract in this area which will be subdivided and sold for embassy sites to countries recognizing East Germany.


The opposite end of Unter Den Linden, bordering on the old Lustgarten, will be developed as East Berlin’s center of elegance. It will contain large department stores, cafes and restaurants, and even night clubs. Henselmann remarked, “who says there’s anything against gaiety in Communism?”

Freiedrichstrasse, pre-war Berlin’s amusement area, will retain the same character under the Communist reconstruction plans. A 200-bed hotel is to be constructed near the Friedrichstrasse railway station.

Hanselmann estimates that the major buildings in the program including Friedrichstrasse Hotel, will be completed by 1967. “The exact date depends upon the establishemtn of priorities for this program as compared with our general industrial development,” he explained.
“But we can promise this: By 1965 you will no longer recognize the city you see today.”