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Introduction

Over half a century after Nazism’s demise, democratic Germany fittingly selected Paris as the place to open a major exhibition about the latest architectural recreation of Berlin. The array of models and drawings projected how the metropolis would look at the dawn of the next millennium.This unusual public relations exercise conveyed not just images and information about the new buildings of the once-and-future capital, but an explicit diplomatic message as well. “The exhibition strives to make clear that German policy will not change as a result of the move from Bonn to Berlin,” wrote Building Minister Klaus Töpfer in the brochure distributed to visitors.2 The attempt to reassure Germany’s neighbors about the historic transfer highlights the significance Germans attach to the link between architecture and politics. Indeed, Germany has assigned architecture a pivotal role throughout its turbulent twentieth-century history. Prior to its successive rule by the century’s warring ideologies, Nazism and communism, Germany gave birth to the Bauhaus movement, whose founders argued that their own revolutionary designs could shape human destiny. Other pioneering German architects, like Bruno Taut and Wassily Luckhardt, devised elaborate crystalline structures they regarded as moral beacons of a shining future. Convulsive events like the fall of the monarchy in 1918, Hitler’s rise to power in 1933, and the defeat of his Third Reich in 1945 all have left their mark on German architecture and design. “Time and again it was to be made clear in stone that from now on everything was to be different,” a postwar architect wrote of the repeated stylistic changes.3 How will the official architecture of unified Berlin, a democratic capital being built amid totalitarian remains, be different this time around? That question, and the various strategies the Germans have devised to address it, are the subject of this book. Several writers have examined the political underpinnings of earlier twentieth-century German state architecture. Many others have analyzed modern Germany in political or economic terms. But this book offers the first overview of the postwar and

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Profile for Princeton Architectural Press

Capital Dilemma  

The decision to move Germany's government seat from Bonn to Berlin by the year 2000 poses an epic architectural challenge and has fostered a...

Capital Dilemma  

The decision to move Germany's government seat from Bonn to Berlin by the year 2000 poses an epic architectural challenge and has fostered a...

Profile for papress