The 25th jubilee for the Fall of the Wall. Unsuitable predictability in the form of 8000 balloons.

Bösebrücke, the 9th November 1989.

It’s been 25 years since the Berlin Wall fell. Never again, this concrete monster would demand a casualty from leaving East Berlin. The starting decade of the 1990s promised unification of families and country, as well as an improvement by democracy and material prosperity. Additionally, the Mauerfall was the ultimate peak of the over-throwing of the East German regime, followed by other socialist regimes in the Eastern Bloc. The West thought of itself as nothing less but the winner of history and could expand its capitalist market stands. The fear for a nuclear Apocalypse disappeared like the snow in the sun: the Cold War and its arms race came to a peaceful end. With the Fall – there was no reason to moderate the borderless optimism.

Of course, Berlin’s Bösebrücke deserves all attention during the 25th jubilee of the Mauerfall. This bridge was the compound of the checkpoint Bornholmer Straße that had to be overcome at the historical 9th of November 1989. That noon, a bungling Günter Schabowski -spokesman of the ruling Communist Party- promised at an international press conference that East Berlin’s borders would be open immediately. An East Berlin crowd, mentally prepared by many previous protests and thousands of people that left East Germany, gathered that same evening in front of the checkpoint named above. The commanding officer, Harald Jäger, excluded violence and opened the barriers of the checkpoint at 11:30 pm. The crowd celebrated their way over the Bösebrücke, into West Berlin’s lower-class district Wedding. Clear as the day, Harald Jäger doesn’t deserve anything but a thirty meter high statue made out of white marble, standing on a golden pedestal.

Toppling over the socialist regime and uniting the Germanies was nonviolent, even uncomplicated. Soon after, all the misery started. The socialist regime left behind a useless economy as a heritage. The healing of socialism was implemented with a shock therapy. The market economy was introduced too rapidly, which the old factories couldn’t keep up with. Half a generation of East Germans was doomed to unemployment, social benefits or even a homeless existence. Depression, alcoholism, addiction and violence became a mass phenomenon. Their financial weight caused that united Germany was nicknamed the sick man of Europe, in serious need of social reforms. In the meanwhile, the little profit that was able to suck out of the former East, disappeared mostly in the pockets of West Germans and their businesses. It was a development, often seen by the Ossi’s as economic colonialism. The claimed tax however, was again brought back to -former- East Germany. The amount of public funds that was invested into the former East is estimated between the €250 billion and €1500 billion. Knowing what is means when such a number is not transparent, I would rather believe the second number here is closest. Up till now, many Wessi’s are often dissatisfied for paying the German unification.

With the disappearance of the East German regime, the political violence wasn’t brought to an end at all. The Mauerfall and die Wende (‘The Turn’) resulted in nothing less than a Welle (‘Wave’) of violence from the extreme right. The violence peaked in 1992, when their black boots kicked life out of 26 people. Since the unification, it’s been proven of at least 184 murders that they have been committed by the neo-nazi’s. Who knows how many more victims fell in fact. And the number is still counting due to incidents, but the real Welle seems to be over. Now, a coincidence in history makes that the neo-nazi’s start their own party at the 9th of November – when antisemitic aggression peaked in 1938 during the barbarous Pogromnight. Today, the nazi’s and football hooligans found each other in an aggressive anti-IS coalition. It is feared that they will disturb the celebrations upcoming 9th of November. Berlin’s riot police is preparing a situation already.

Happily, this doesn’t keep the Berliners from celebrating the twenty-fifth jubilee this Sunday. Apparently, the bourgeoisie is the winner of the Mauerfall since a Bürgerfest (‘civilian festivity’ – not ‘people party’) is organised at the Brandenburger Tor. There is music starting at 2 pm, with a culminating point is planned to be in the evening – when Beethoven’s 9th symphony is performed. According to Richard Meng, spokesman of Berlin’s local authorities, the jubilee is going to be an “emotional weekend” in which Berliners “will celebrate the happiest day in the newest history of the city”. For these festivities, Berlin’s authorities therefore asked the help of the brothers Bauder. They had a stunning idea.

Lets dump some illuminating balloons in the city. Kind off looks like the Wall!” said one to another, who more or less answered “Great idea! A light wall where the Wall stood, through the inner city!” and probably forgot that the Berlin Wall had to be about ten times longer. “…But the real Berliners live in the inner city” he probably assumed. “You’re a genius, ‘bro! In this way, the light wall will pass by the Brandenburger Tor and the Reichstag – so these buildings will finally be on the photos again!” – “And the balloons will fly on the tones of Beethoven!et voila. Of course, these brothers don’t do this for a fish in a tin. Apparently, this conceptually correct balloon costs €240 each, since there is paid about €1.938.000 for it. Happily after all, there was a socially engaged foundation that said “Very artistic, guys! Really interesting! And cheering! So nice of you, to provide the birds in their food for the upcoming winter!” after which the Berliner Lotto Stiftung (‘Berlins Lottery Foundation’) was thank-you-very-much’ed. To make sure that no one is going to be surprised by this boring idea, photo-shopped images of these balloons in front of the Brandenburger Tor and the Reichstag appear already one year in advance.

And what’s going to happen at the Bösebrücke? Somewhat outside of the centre, we still find here victims of die Wende. These German mumbling, addicted men of a middle age who by the end of the morning sit drunk at the stairs. I’ve seen it myself. The street scene is dominated here by a well-known discount supermarket chain with its blue-yellow logo and a beggar hanging around its entrance. The Bösebrücke is for the Bürgerfest not photogenic enough. Sunday, a speech of three quarters is announced, c’est tout.

So. Twenty-five years after the Mauerfall, the sick man has recovered fairly well. The German politics and economy are relatively stable and trustworthy, big parts of the former East are economically profitable and there is -usually- barely violence on the streets. The overthrow of socialism hasn’t been this successful anywhere else. It wasn’t even nonviolent in Romania and it didn’t succeed in Belarus after all. In former Yugoslavia, the 1990s didn’t mean a unification. The upcoming nationalism resulted in a division, which was heavily encouraged by the German Minister of Foreign Affairs. The situation escalated, a bloody war followed and resulted in a genocide. This however, has all been outside of Germany. It’s kind off on the edge of being context, you see.

For Berlin, the optimism that the Mauerfall started is grounded to a certain extent. For an “emotional weekend” it is even normal to gather nearly €2 million and spread round and about 8000 balloons over the show window of Berlin’s centre. The predictability of how this moment is going to look like is in the strongest contrast possible of all the side-effects that followed the Mauerfall. In my opinion, using balloons is a repetition of the somewhat arrogant optimism 25 years earlier. I can only hope that unforeseen waves of rubbish won’t violate the free spirits in the sky this time.

Tensions between the past and the now… Or, well: lakes in Berlin!

Sometimes, I feel this tension between the past and the now: between the imagination and the experience. Between the feeling that you feel and understand history… and the moment that you grab your camera to proof it & share it with the blogosphere. Walking around town for all this history, I’ve also happened to run into astonishing places that were not of any use for this blog. It couldn’t help me from using my camera and enjoying the view a second time, now at home. I don’t see a reason not to reveal these during summer-time, when digital visitors may be eager to look for analogue inspiration and cool off at some lake. If you’re asking for my personal favorite: that is definitely be the Liepnitzsee with its blue water. I’ve spend a great summer-day there – albeit without a camera.

View over the Mueggelsee. May 2014, photo by Joep de Visser.

View over the Greenwichpromenade at Tegeler See. November 2013, photo by Joep de Visser.The Bay at Schildhorn a.d. Havel. June 2013, photo by Joep de Visser.

Winter Wonderland at the Lehnitzsee. Oranienburg, February 2013. Photo by Joep de Visser.

View over the Glienicker Bruecke. November 2012, photo by Joep de Visser.

Capturing changes and… Or, well: view over Berlin!

Now I’m having a camera for about two years, I noticed that it is a great tool to immortalise the city & to capture all kinds off changes. When I started this blog, I set myself the goal to prove that the capital of the 20th century has more that’s worth paying a visit to than only the Fernsehturm and other tourist eternities. Now that I’ve made my walk around here, I turned into a full admirer of the socialist disco ball after all. The last photo here shows that – even when you’re 20 kilometers southeast, the St. Walter is still shining for you. The city may be changing – so did I.

View from the Boesebruecke. April 2013. Photo by Joep de Visser.

A view over the city. From Tempelhof. June 2014, photo by Joep de Visser.

View over Goerlitzer Park and Berlin. May 2013. Photo by Joep de Visser.

View over the city. Seen from the Mueggelturm. May 2014, photo by Joep de Visser.

Hans Heinrich Müller’s architectural work in Rummelsburg & Oberschöneweide

In this mini-series, I gather photos of the architecture made by Hans Heinrich Müller (1879-1951). The work of this man is too forgotten, although he was the mastermind behind dozens of Electricity Stations which were constructed in Berlin’s 1920s and early 1930s. This may be my last post about his work! With this 13th post, I’ve taken photos of 34 creations. Now, I can’t find anymore of his buildings! Only a few have been destructed by the Nazi’s for megalomanic urban planning – or were bombed during the war. Another couple of buildings are hard to find & in too far districts to take the risk of going there without success. However, in my first post – I told you that “when you keep an eye to the ornaments, one will find these details back in his later work”. This moment is now! The octogram, also seen on (for example) the Gemeindedoppelschule (1909) and the Umspannwerk Koppenplatz (1926), is back again!

Kraftwerk Rummelsburg (1925 till ±1935, various expansions)

Hans Heinrich Müller's Kraftwerk Rummelsburg. Front-side. (Berlin-Rummelsburg, March 2014. Photo by Joep de Visser)

Hans Heinrich Müller's Kraftwerk Rummelsburg. Front-side's details. (Berlin-Rummelsburg, March 2014. Photo by Joep de Visser)

Hans Heinrich Müller's Kraftwerk Rummelsburg. Seen front the Rummelsburger Landstraße. (Berlin-Rummelsburg, March 2014. Photo by Joep de Visser)

Hans Heinrich Müller's Kraftwerk Rummelsburg. Seen front the Rummelsburger Landstraße. (Berlin-Rummelsburg, March 2014. Photo by Joep de Visser.)

Hans Heinrich Müller's Kraftwerk Rummelsburg. Machine house. (Berlin-Rummelsburg, photo from 1928)

Hans Heinrich Müller's Kraftwerk Rummelsburg. Berlin-Rummelsburg, March 2014. Photo by Joep de Visser.Hans Heinrich Müller's Kraftwerk Rummelsburg. (Berlin-Rummelsburg, March 2014. Photo by Joep de Visser)Hans Heinrich Müller's Kraftwerk Rummelsburg. Details. (Berlin-Rummelsburg, March 2014. Photo by Joep de Visser)Hans Heinrich Müller's Kraftwerk Rummelsburg. Details. (Berlin-Rummelsburg, March 2014. Photo by Joep de Visser.)Hans Heinrich Müller's Umspannwerk Rummelsburg. Front-Side. March 2014, photo by Joep de Visser.

Hans Heinrich Müller's Kraftwerk Rummelsburg. Seen from the other side of the Spree. (Berlin-Treptow, March 2014. Photo by Joep de Visser)
Umspannwerk Oberschöneweide (1933)

Hans Heinrich Müller's Umspannwerk, Wilhelminenhofstraße (Berlin-Oberschöneweide, 1933)

 Hans Heinrich Müller's Umspannwerk, Wilhelminenhofstraße. (Berlin-Oberschöneweide, June 2014)

Hans Heinrich Müller's Umspannwerk Oberspree. (Berlin-Oberschöneweide. June 2014, photo by Joep de Visser)

 Hans Heinrich Müller's Umspannwerk Oberspree, side-view. (Berlin-Oberschöneweide. June 2014, photo by Joep de Visser)

Hans Heinrich Müller's Umspannwerk Oberspree. (Berlin-Oberschöneweide. June 2014, photo by Joep de Visser)

Hans Heinrich Müller's Umspannwerk Oberspree, backside (Berlin-Oberschöneweide. June 2014, photo by Joep de Visser)

Hans Heinrich Müller's Umspannwerk Oberspree. Details inside of the nowadays Werkstatte.(Berlin-Oberschöneweide. June 2014, photo by Joep de Visser)Hans Heinrich Müller's Umspannwerk Oberspree. Details at the staircase. (Berlin-Oberschöneweide. June 2014, photo by Joep de Visser)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hans Heinrich Müller's Umspannwerk Oberspree. Details at the staircase. (Berlin-Oberschöneweide. June 2014, photo by Joep de Visser) Hans Heinrich Müller's Umspannwerk Oberspree. Details (Berlin-Oberschöneweide. June 2014, photo by Joep de Visser)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, when a German’s career comes to an end in the year of 1933 – alarm bells start ringing. What did the Nazi’s do to him after Hitler took power in January that year? After the enormous productive years Müller had, the nose-dive after 1933 is utterly remarkable. It looks like some party had an intention. Now, was his marriage with the daughter of a former well-known communist already enough to be boycotted? Or did the Nazi’s simply favoured different architecture, which meant a ‘natural death’ for Müller’s work? Perhaps, Müller had the intention not to contribute to the Nazi Empire. In addition regime-change also errorred the professional network of an architect, and Müller may not be bothered in restoring these. It’s proven that in stead of semi-public factories, Müller only build private houses. On the other hand, in 1937/8 – Müller participated in an architectural competition for the Hochschulstadt: a Nazi military school located at the nowadays Teufelsberg. Although Müller didn’t got the assignment, it implies that he didn’t boycott the Nazi’s after all. All summed up, it’s unsure why Müller was not that active as a public architect anymore after 1933. Some party may have had an intention once, but maybe it is coincidence after all…

Hans Heinrich Müller’s “Gleichrichterwerke”

In this series, I gather photos of the architecture made by Hans Heinrich Müller (1879-1951). The work of this man is too forgotten, although he was the mastermind behind dozens of Electricity Stations which were constructed in the 1920s and early 1930s. The Gleichrichterwerke have an other function than all buildings I’ve blogged before. These buildings had to convert the voltage into electricity. Although I could only find two of them in the whole city, I think that these Gleichrichterwerke had to right to be in the series about Müller’s electricity buildings as well. Here is my fore-last update!

Gleichrichterwerk Niederschönhausen (1928)

Hans Heinrich Müller's Gleichrichterwerk Niederschönhausen. Front-side. (Berlin-Pankow, March 2014. Photo by Joep de Visser)

Hans Heinrich Müller's Gleichrichterwerk Niederschönhausen. (Berlin-Pankow, March 2014. Photo by Joep de Visser) Hans Heinrich Müller's Gleichrichterwerk Niederschönhausen. Details. (Berlin-Pankow, March 2014. Photo by Joep de Visser) Hans Heinrich Müller's Gleichrichterwerk Niederschönhausen. Details of the rounded tower. (Berlin-Pankow, March 2014. Photo by Joep de Visser) Hans Heinrich Müller's Gleichrichterwerk Niederschönhausen. Details (Berlin-Pankow, March 2014. Photo by Joep de Visser)


Gleichrichterwerk Zehlendorf (1928/29)

Gleichrichterwerk Zehlendorf. (Berlin-Zehlendorf, March 2014. Photo by Joep de Visser)

Hans Heinrich Müller's Gleichrichterwerk Zehlendorf (Berlin-Zehlendorf, late 1920s)Gleichrichterwerk Zehlendorf. Backside. (Berlin-Zehlendorf, March 2014. Photo by Joep de Visser)

Hans Heinrich Müller’s Electricity Stations in the Berlin districts of Wittenau, Reinickendorf and Spandau

In this mini-series, I gather photos of the architecture made by Hans Heinrich Müller (1879-1951). The work of this man is too forgotten, although he was the mastermind behind dozens of Electricity Stations which were constructed in the 1920s and early 1930s. Müller’s usage of red bricks in odd shapes and eccentric ornaments are somewhat mesmerising and have something magic. Architects could talk for hours and hours about his work, but I’m not an architect. For me, Hans Müller’s constructions are just very aesthetic. Alright – I’ve had enough of talking, ready to picture these brick-stone beauties!


Umspannwerk Wittenau (1925/26)

Hans Heinrich Müller's Umspannwerk Wittenau. Backside. (Berlin-Wittenau, photo from the 1920s)

Hans Heinrich Müller's Umspannwerk Wittenau. Streetsight. (Berlin-Wittenau, 1925)

Hans Heinrich Müller's Umspannwerk Wittenau. Front-side. (Berlin-Reinickendorf, March 2014. Photo by Joep de Visser)

Hans Heinrich Müller's Umspannwerk Wittenau. (Berlin-Reinickendorf, March 2014. Photo by Joep de Visser)

Hans Heinrich Müller's Umspannwerk Wittenau. Details. (Berlin-Reinickendorf, March 2014. Photo by Joep de Visser)


Umspannwerk Umklei (1928/29)

Hans Heinrich Müller's Abspannwerk Uklei (Berlin-Reinickendorf, March 2014. Photo by Joep de Visser)

Hans Heinrich Müller's Umspannwerk Uklei. (Berlin-Spandau, photo from 1963)

Hans Heinrich Müller's Abspannwerk Uklei. The side. (Berlin-Reinickendorf, March 2014. Photo by Joep de Visser)

Hans Heinrich Müller's Umspannwerk Uklei (Berlin-Spandau, photo from 1963)

Hans Heinrich Müller's Abspannwerk Uklei. Doors at the side. (Berlin-Reinickendorf, March 2014. Photo by Joep de Visser) Hans Heinrich Müller's Abspannwerk Uklei. Details at the backside. (Berlin-Reinickendorf, March 2014. Photo by Joep de Visser) Hans Heinrich Müller's Abspannwerk Uklei. Details at the backside (Berlin-Reinickendorf, March 2014. Photo by Joep de Visser)