Re-post #10 #11 #12 #13 & #14. The 1953 uprising + Kurt Tucholsky + lgbtq+ + Trümmerfrauen and Trümmerberge + Schloß Schönhausen.

When I turned 23, I felt the urge to know every detail about the history of Berlin. The next two years, I’ve visited and researched many places of historic importance throughout the German capital. This blog was the result of full-time reading, thinking and writing.

Now that I’m 10 years older and more experienced as a historian – I’m looking back to the work I’ve done. Sometimes I do this with a certain cringe. My critical thinking and writing skills were not fully developed. Other times, I feel pretty proud of the work the 10-year younger me has done. And I’m not saying that lightly. (-:

Since I’m curious what happens when history is a decade further in history, I’m visiting the places I wrote about 10 years ago.


#10: The 1953 uprising

Actually, the uprising from 1953 is very well chosen as a topic. In my tours, I refer sometimes to this uprising because I believe an important geopolitical lesson can be learned from it. The fact that the US authorities did not intervene, shows that the spheres of influences were respected. At least, control over Berlin and Germay was not worth a new war. So, the US politicians accepted that East Berlin was ruled by the Soviet politicians. This was an important puzzle piece for the division of Berlin. I believe it also made clear that the socialist regime wouldn’t be hindered in dividing Berlin by the Berlin Wall some years later.

Regarding my post: 10 years ago, I was looking for a Stein des Anstoßes (‘Offending Stone’). The good news is that it came after all! The bad news is, I had to edit my original text drastically.


#11: Kurt Tucholsky

In short: excellent choice to pick a public figure with such a strong Berlin identity as a topic for a blog-post. Yet, it’s not the right choice for connecting it to interesting locations.


#12: Homosexual history in Berlin



Actually, homosexual history can’t be covered in a single blog-post. When I lived in Brussels, I organised lgbtq+ history tours there (going back 1000 years in time!)
Now I have learned more about the topic, I want to give a couple of important insights. Attraction to the same sex has always existed in history. So does the persecution of homosexuality, as well as the toleration of it. In terms of numbers, homosexuals have not been killed in masses of people. To take present-day Belgium as an example: around 230 ‘sodomites’ have been burned in the period 1400-1660. Without forgetting the suffering of the lgbtq+ers that died way, the number honestly wasn’t as high as I thought it would be. The same goes with the number of homosexuals that were killed in the concentration camps during national-socialism. About 6000 homosexuals were murdered, nothing close to the millions that activists in the 1970s claimed to be killed. (It happens often that political groups exegerate the number of victims in history for their agenda.) Yet, in a more abstract way, it still means that the nazi’s brought back the barbaric horror from history into the 20th century.
With these numbers, I don’t want to say that the persecution of the lgbtq+ communities wasn’t all that bad. The point is that troughout history, discrimination of lgbtq+ communities resulted into many personal struggles, feelings of shame and depressions. The way of dealing with this, sometimes give an understanding how lgbtq+ people and their communities are nowadays. In short: phobia of the lgbtq+ was (and is) not as existential as we often think, but it was (and is) strongly psychological.
Of course, this point can be discussed and debated. I still have a lot to learn. (-:


#13: Rubble in Berlin

I often think about this blog-post! One of my tours at the Berliner Unterwelten brings up Trümmerfrauen & Trümmerberge. (-:


#14: Schloß Schönhausen


I was pretty enthousiastic about reading back about Schloß Schönhausen! Especially the role it played for visiting diplomatic guests for the East German state really gives this place an interesting twist. Weirdly enough, I can’t recall whether I’ve been in there or not… Will do soon!

Re-post #6 #7 #8 & #9. Georg Elser + the Porajmos + Glienicker Brücke + Ernst Thälmann

When I turned 23, I felt the urge to know every detail about the history of Berlin. The next two years, I’ve visited and researched many places of historic importance throughout the German capital. This blog was the result of full-time reading, thinking and writing.

Now that I’m 10 years older and more experienced as a historian – I’m looking back to the work I’ve done. Sometimes I do this with a certain cringe. My critical thinking and writing skills were not fully developed (not to mention the overcomplicated style of how I used english). Other times, I feel pretty proud of the work the 10-year younger me has done. And I’m not saying that lightly. (-:

As an ode to the old blog, I’m visiting the places I wrote about 10 years ago.


#6: Georg Elser

My article about Georg Elser and his attempt to kill Hitler in 1939 is not an article to be ashamed of. Perhaps, it’s not the strongest either. After all (as admitted) the figure of Georg Elser doesn’t have a connection with the city of Berlin. Georg Elser’s attempt to kill Hitler was always well-known. In the last 10 years, even more. A German production used the story for a film. In the German Resistance Memorial Center (Gedenkstätte Deutscher Widerstand) an entire room is now dedicated to Georg Elser’s attempt (photo #1 & #2).


#7: The Porajmos in Berlin

At the time (2012) this article was highly relevant. Just a few weeks before, the Sinti and Roma Memorial was finally opened. Located next to the Reichstag, it changed Berlin’s landscape. The memorial site has a official vibe to it, which is suitable for commemoration. Currently, the site next to it is being turned into being a part of the memorial. It seems to be the idea, that personal stories will give the memorial a more informative character. Which I underwrite. Until it opens (lets see when that will be) I think that the exhibition that’s right next to the station Raoul-Wallenberg-Straße really adds to the commemoration of the Porajmos. Although one thinks that the district (Marzahn) is far out, I highly recommend to pay a visit if you’re interested in the topic of the Porajmos.


#8: Glienicker Brücke: the Bridge of Spies

In retrospect, I think this article made me realise the power of the camera. When I wrote the article in 2012, I only had a 10-year old digital camera with max. 2 megapixels. (I didn’t use a smartphone till the age of 29. Guess I’m a little low-fi!). Still, I think the photos I made in 2012 were pretty good. As a location, I think the bridge is an interesting addition to the blog. I’ve been there frequently.
I feel though, that the content of the article was not all that great. Before editing (2022), there was much detailed information about the bridges in the period 1660-1960 whereas you (dear readers) surely wanted to read more about the three notorious spy exchanges. I’ve posted some extra photos and videos about these moments!


#9: Ernst Thälmann

Such a long article, where the basic question should have been: does Ernst Thälmann deserve a statue in present-day Berlin? And I’m not asking to erase all socialist memorials from the East German period. But, Ernst Thälmann is one of a kind…

In an interesting way, Ernst Thälmann did not fit into the strategy of the East German communists after the war. Then, the East German communists claimed to have learned from their mistakes they made before 1933. In the analysis, Hitler and the nazi’s could overtake the power because the left (communists and social-democrats) were too busy fighting each other. Those twists should be from the past, was the conclusion. The new strategy can even be seen this in the name of the socialist party after the War: Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands (Socialist United Party of Germany). Officially, the left was now altogether in one party. In reality, the Moscow-aligned commies were in charge. However, if one person was responsible for the inter-left violence in the 1920s and 1930s that was now condemned? His name must have been Ernst Thälmann…

Still, I don’t opt for the removal of Ernst Thälmann’s statue. It is a worthy example of East German propaganda and its absurdities. Importantly, it needs to be contextualised with an information table. The graffiti saying “Hero” clearly doesn’t do the job. In this, I (proudly) differ in opinion from the local CDU (conservative party). One of their local representatives (backed up by the party) suggests to break down the monument and sell the materials to support Ukranian victims of the Russian invasion. At first sight that seems a noble cause to me, but I’m not convinced of any relation between Ernst Thälmann and Putin’s imperialism.

Re-post #2 #3 #4 & #5. Gedenkstätte Plötzensee + Teufelsberg + Luisenstädtischer Kanal + Unter den Linden 1878

When I turned 23, I felt the urge to know every detail about the history of Berlin. The next two years, I’ve visited and researched many places of historic importance throughout the German capital. This blog was the result of full-time reading, thinking and writing.

Now that I’m 10 years older, wiser and more experienced as a historian – I’m looking back to the work I’ve done. Sometimes, I feel pretty proud of the work the 10-year younger me has done. And I’m not saying such things lightly. (-:

As an ode to the old blog, I’m visiting the places I wrote about 10 years ago. Today, I reflect on the 4 articles I wrote in October 2012.

#2: Gedenkstätte Plötzensee


When I started as a blogger, I had a hard time finding places to write about. More than any other place, the Gedenkstätte Plötzensee reminds me of this start. I found it in a Dutch travel guide that would translate as Berlin for experienced visitors. Thanks!

Time hasn’t been standing still at the Gedenkstätte Plötzensee. Visiting the site is more recommended than ever, now that there is a permanent exhibition that came out really well. The Gedenkstätte’s website is a good start for a visit.


#3: Teufelsberg

The Teufelsberg is a dear place to me. Like many people, I got to know the place because it was abandoned. Visiting it was a thrill – making beautiful memories with friends. Later, I used the Teufelsberg (and spionage in general) as a topic for a course at the university. After all, I’ve studied Duitslandstudies (basically: MA German History) at the University of Amsterdam. After writing the blog-post, I got to know two colleagues who’ve been organising guided tours at the Teufelsberg around 2013/4. I kind-a regret I didn’t jump into that opportunity…


#4: Luisenstädtischer Kanal

For me, my post about the Luisenstädtischer Kanal was a breakthrough! Coming out of nowhere, I felt like I had discovered a topic for the blog myself. It made an impact on me that there is a park in the middle of the city, that no one seems to understand. I was lucky that I found an extensive and detailed book about this park. After writing about it, I’ve walked here countless of times. On a more critical note, my original text really needed an edit. (-:


#5: Attempts to assassinate Wilhelm I
There was something unusual about this article. Although it’s written in an acceptable way (and the topic deserves a few marks for originality!) the post is not the highlight of the blog. The events were hard to link to exact locations. Also, the events deals with topics in history that I never really mastered. I mean, I never became an expert in the German Empire (1871-1918). Ten years ago, I missed the opportunity to show the axe that beheaded Max Hödel. Honestly, I never took the effort to visit the Märkisches Museum until now, for the re-post! And I found out, that the axe is no part of the exhibition anymore. That means, there is nothing now that reminds of these attempts to kill the Kaiser.

Re-post #1. Sozialistenfriedhof.

When I turned 23, I felt the urge to know every detail about the history of Berlin. The next two years, I’ve visited and researched many places of historic importance throughout the German capital. This blog was the result of full-time reading, thinking and writing.

Now that I’m 10 years older, wiser and more experienced as a historian – I’m looking back to the work I’ve done. Sometimes I do this with a certain cringe. My critical thinking and writing skills were not fully developed (not to mention the overcomplicated style of how I used english).Other times, I feel pretty proud of the work the 10-year younger me has done. And I’m not saying such things lightly. (-:

As an ode to the old blog, I’m visiting the places I wrote about 10 years ago.


Today, the first look back into the mirror: the Sozialistenfriedhof. I can tell it was my first post ever! For example, I asked questions in the intro (“Each second Sunday of January, people of the (radical) left go to the Zentralfriedhof Friedrichsfelde – but why?“) that I didn’t answer. If you’ve been wondering why the last 10 years: to remember Spartacus uprising from January 1919. If I would’ve written the blog-post now, I would have written more about Rosa Luxemburg. It’s hard to dislike her. Also, the destroyed monument from Mies van der Rohe that I mentioned, was at least worth a photo!

Monument (1983) for the destroyed memorial from 1926. (Berlin-Lichtenberg, September 2022)


One more thing: I should have been more critical about the memorial for “Den Opfern des Stalinismus” (The victims of Stalinism). The monument is so small, it’s totally lost. Also, one could be cynical and interpret the empty field around the monument as if it tries to say: there were not victims of Stalinism. At least, the lack of any context and information makes it rather underwhelming. It’s an example of a missed opportunity. And I can understand that can be painful for the families of the victims of Stalin-, Ulbricht- and Honecker’s regimes.

Overview

Featured

Welcome!

From 2012 till 2014, I published a series of articles covering Berlin’s history. I had to stop, since I passionately started working as a tour-guide.

Here is an overview of all the articles I wrote. Good luck!

(Bi-)Weekly updates —

2014:

2013:

2012:


Other updates:

Project Hans (Heinrich) Müller: an ode to the architect.
Early 2014, I’ve visited about thirty buildings created by Hans Müller. So far, he is my favorite architect within the German capital. This page is an overview for the articles that I published.

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)