Double Restoration: Berlin after 1945

author: Brian Ladd, University at Albany, State University of New York
published: Feb. 28, 2011,   recorded: March 2002,   views: 526
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The reconstruction of Berlin, after the massive destruction it suffered in World War II, was complicated in two fundamental ways. First was the question of historical continuity. On the one hand, there was a desire to reconstruct: to repair a damaged but extant city or, more broadly, to continue its best traditions in architectural style, social policy, and economic development. On the other hand, everyone in charge was determined to break demonstratively with the immediate past, that is, with the Third Reich; but they did not agree about which cultural, architectural, or urbanistic traditions were the Nazi ones. The second complication arose from the fact that the city was soon divided between two ideologically opposed regimes in east and west, each determined to claim the legacy of pre-Nazi Berlin, to display the clearer break with Hitler, and to prove its cultural and political superiority. Under these complicated circumstances, the rebuilding of Berlin became one of the most visible venues of the early Cold War, even as it remained a matter of basic comfort and prosperity for ordinary Berliners.

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