Berlin was the last city to be seized in WWII. It held the last leaders of the Third Reich and would grant victory for the Allies in the European front of the war if taken.
After WWII, Berlin became highly contested by the Allied Nations and the Soviet Union, who both wanted to install their own governmental, economical, and political ideologies. Power struggle between the divided city, West Berlin and East Berlin, left both sides with urban management problems.
The Soviet Union had previously controlled Germany’s south neighbor country, Czechoslovakia, whose economy was driven by it’s heavy industry sector. The pollution released by these industries predominately consisted of high concentrations of sulfur dioxide in both the air and soil. The pollution severely degraded both the air and soil quality of it’s country and nearby countries. In conjunction with lack of water and waste treatment services, the pollutants quickly traveled to neighboring countries including Germany, and ultimately Berlin. Thus, even after the collapse of the Eastern Bloc and the Soviet Union, the effects of decades of pollution took its toll on Berlin’s population(bronchitis, asthama) and its environmental quality.
After the fall of The Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union, Germany once again reinvested itself in government renovation and environmental construction programs. Though most of the new building projects were catered to the service and creative sector, Berlin also aimed at a more eco-friendly means of construction and planning.
Efforts taken to be more environmentally conscious after the end of the war were predominately fueled by not repeating the same mistakes from the past.
- British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, addressing the people of Berlin.”
The Berlin Wall, which so defined Germany during the Cold War, was taken down in 1989. Archaeologists and historians faced a serious dilemma figuring out how to preserve emblems of the Cold War, yet not allow harsh reminders of this era to remain. The Berlin wall signified not only cultural separation, but oppression and tyrannical rule as well for the people of East Berlin. Parts of the wall were considered to be kept up, but ultimately it was taken down as it had the potential to cause emotional and psychological distress. In addition, it was not practical economically to leave it up. A small area of the wall has been preserved, but for the most part there is little evidence the wall was ever there.
The tearing down of the Berlin Wall helped reunite the German nation. This was a much needed step for the reunification of East and West Berlin. The Germans wanted to rebuild their city in a way that preserved the history of their city and acknowledged the Cold War had happened, yet allowed them to move on.
Berlin possesses a “politically loaded” atmosphere. Since the reuniting of Berlin in 1989, five types of building projects have been started. The first is the construction of a new government complex. This new complex is so important because it signifies the reunification of the city. The second project is the renovation of the boulevard, Friedrichstrasse- Berlin’s central shopping street. It is commonly referred to as the “Fifth Avenue” of Berlin. Third is the construction project at Potsdamer Platz. Potsdamer Platz, a busy intersection prior to the Cold War, became a wasteland due to the effect of the Cold War. This project is just south of the Brandenburg Gate, the area where the Berlin wall used to stand. This area underwent a major reconstruction from 1991-1993. Ironically, this area is now the most valuable location for building in all of Europe. Fourth is the improvement of public transportation. Subway stations, train stations, and auto tunnels which were destroyed are now being rebuilt and improved. Lastly, a variety of monuments commemorating World War II have been built, some of which include Hitler’s Bunker and the “Topography of Terror,” an outdoor exhibit depicting some of the terrors of the secret police. The Sony Center, a metal structure built where the wall once stood, signifies that although Berlin citizens will never forget the Cold War, they desire to move on and have great hopes for the future.
Berlin is characterized by its apartment houses which are reminiscent of the “gingerbread style.” They are classified as historical monuments of the Stalin era. This style is still very popular even today. The reconstruction of Berlin was and still is a monumental task. Today tourists and citizens alike will see phenomenal architectural designs as seen through the University of Berlin, Reichstag, and the Brandenberg Gate.
Source: Brunn, Stanley D., Jack Francis. Williams, and Michael E. Bonine. Cities of the World: World Regional Urban Development. 4th ed. New York: Harper & Row, 1983. Print.
November 9, 1989 the Berlin Wall came down after standing for 28 years as a physical and symbolic separation of the Democratic West and Soviet East. The end of the Cold War began the process of rebuilding Eastern Europe after the fall of the Communist system. Germany officially reunified as the Federal Republic of Germany October 3,1990, uniting both sides of Berlin. This now brought the whole of Germany into the European Union and permitted destitute East Berlin to begin rebuilding the infrastructure and economic base that had fallen into disrepair under Soviet control.