Category Archives: Berlin
East Germans successfully defected by a variety of methods: digging long tunnels under the wall, waiting for favorable winds and taking a hot air balloon, sliding along aerial wires, flying ultralights, and in one instance, simply driving a sports car at full speed through the basic, initial fortifications. When a metal beam was placed at checkpoints to prevent this kind of defection, up to four people (two in the front seats and possibly two in the boot) drove under the bar in a sports car that had been modified to allow the roof and wind screen to come away when it made contact with the beam. They lay flat and kept driving forward. The East Germans then built zig-zagging roads at checkpoints. The sewer system predated the wall, and some people escaped through the sewers, in a number of cases with assistance from the Girmann student group.
“The dominant philosophy of Berlin redevelopment is “critical reconstruction.” Its adherents want to recapture the “mythos” of the city at an earlier time.”
“‘It is a paranoia of historiographic reconstruction – or pretend historiographic reconstruction,” he says. “It is the fear of history, in Berlin and in Germany. It is a kind of allergy. Berlin is a new city. It is not 1870 or 1910 or 1930 – thank God.'”
This article exposes some criticisms of Berlin’s state today (1998, so a bit dated but still relevant). Reconstruction here looks both at the past and the future. This is obviously typical of reconstruction, but in a city that has represented so many different things at different times in its history, there is a lot of disagreement over which past it wishes to reconstruct. At the same time, there is the concern to make the city relevant to the present and the future so that it may recover economically.