holocaust memory reframed

gp 30 – 31 – viewed across the two axes of history , Berlin emerges as a ruined topography at the centre of which exists the void as both space and concept. This means both actual voided spaces caused by the ravages of war, urban schemes, and the removal of the Berlin Wall and, in a metaphoric sense, destroyed communities and families from ww2, the holocaust and berlin’s subsequent division

pg 31 – The use of the void metaphor to describe Berlin has a long histroy, and it was used already in 1935 by Ernst Bloch to describe life in Weimar Berlin after the disintegration of nineteenth-century bourgeois culture. Fascism and Albert Speer’s wrecking crew turned Berlin into a literal void, followed in turn by the sanierung (urban renewal) of the 1950s, when significant portions of old berlin were destroyed to clear space for more modern architecture. The voids of the no-man’s-land and minefields in the center of Berlin soon become the setting for the Berlin Wall, the later removal of which resulted in the greatest and most visible void of all: a “seventeen-acre wasteland” reaching from the Branden burg Gate to potsdamer Platz and Leipziger Platz. Specific empty city spaces or voids would become invested with symbolic meaning, including Potsdamer platz, which was immortalized by wim wenders in his mediative 1987 film Der himmel uber berlin as a symbol of Berlins conflicted memory and history .

pg 31-  After Germany’s Reunification and the removal of the wall, Berlin quickly became the site of the second Grunderzeit (founding epoch). As Damgar Richter argues, the city was all at once “opened up to a sudden cultural storm from all sides” and became transformed into what walter benjamin predicted for Berlin : a “transitional space of all thinkable forces”. The series of design projects and architectural competitions after 1990 suggest that Berlin was searching for a new identity to match its new political status and emerging role as a world city.


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