Amnesiopolis : modernity, space, and memory in East Germany by Eli Rubin

By Eli Rubin

Amnesiopolis explores the development of Marzahn, the biggest prefabricated housing venture in East Germany, equipped at the outskirts of East Berlin within the Nineteen Seventies and Eighties, and touted by means of the regime because the way forward for socialism. It additionally focuses particularly at the event of East Germans who moved, frequently from crumbling slums left over as a legacy of the 19th century, into this appreciably new position, one outlined by Read more...


exact concrete housing blocks are an iconic legacy of existence in the back of the Iron Curtain. Amnesiopolis stories the development of Marzahn, the most important prefabricated housing venture in East Germany, Read more...

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46 On homelessness and allied housing policy, as well as a remarkable description of the phenomenology of Berlin’s ruined urban landscape, see Clara Oberle, “City in Transit: Ruins, Railways, and the Search for Order in Postwar Berlin” (PhD dissertation, Princeton University, 2006). 47 Joachim Palutzki, Architektur in der DDR (Berlin: Reimer, 2000), 60–4. 48 For more on the “formalism debate” as it was euphemistically termed by the Party, see Wolfgang Thöner, “From an ‘Alien, Hostile Phenomenon’ to the ‘Poetry of the Future’: On the Bauhaus Reception in East Germany, 1945–1970” in Bulletin of the German Historical Institute, Bulletin Supplement 2 (2005), 115–38; Rubin, Synthetic Socialism: Plastics and Dictatorship in the German Democratic Republic (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2008), 46–8, and specifically on architecture and urban planning, 81–5; and Virag Eszter Molnar, Building the State: Architecture, Politics and State Formation in Postwar Central Europe (New York: Routledge, 2013), 39–40.

5 Geist and Küvers, 404. , Arbeiterexistenz im 19. Jahrhundert: Lebensstandard und Lebensgestaltung deutscher Arbeiter und Handwerker (Stuttgart: Klett-Cota, 1981) 114–37; 132. 7 Wietog, “Wohnungsstandard,” 132. ”8 This was something that resonated especially in many of Berlin’s working-class neighborhoods, which became hotbeds of SPD and KPD activism. 10 In some cases the memory of revolution and insurrection literally had roots in the soil of the urban spaces of a neighborhood; for example, the “lone poplar” (einsame Pappe) which stood for more than a century near the corner of Topsstrasse and Cantianstrasse in Prenzlauer Berg.

35 Reichhardt and Schäche, Von Berlin nach Germania, 156. Germany’s Working Class, the Housing Program, and the Marzahn Plan 19 However, as was the case in the Weimar Republic, the Third Reich was not able to realize its plans to resettle workers on the edges of the city. Once the war began in 1939, most of Speer’s plans for Germania had to be shelved—including the gigantic settlements in the north-east and south. 38 This of course, in a cruel irony, was welcomed by certain planners in the Third Reich, including those in Speer’s office; they saw the British strategy of “de-housing” the working class as doing the work of slum clearance for them.

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