26 February 2017
In Berlin, Remaking The City Can Rekindle Old Frictions
By the end of World War II, the city of Berlin, like Germany as a whole, was divided. The eastern part of the city was dominated by a USSR-led communist regime, and the western part had a democratic government influenced by America and Great Britain. In 1961, the Berlin Wall was raised, not only physically dividing the city into East and West Berlin, but also psychologically and emotionally splitting the people. Travel between the two sides was prohibited. Since the reunification of Germany and the demolition of the wall in 1989, city planners have been trying to rebuild the city, tearing down the old buildings of communist East Berlin and replacing them with new structures. But the new buildings have sparked controversy over what should be preserved and what should be torn down. Listen to this story to hear different perspectives and ideas about how the city should handle the buildings of the past and move toward a unified future.
What is the main idea of this story?
Why do many Berliners oppose the idea of replacing all of the old buildings in what used to be East Berlin?
What significance does the Palace of the Republic hold for people from East Berlin? Why would tearing it down would be an “act of violence”?
What is the real reason over 180 East Berlin structures have been torn down since 1989?
Why do you think the topic of tearing down or preserving the older buildings is such an emotional one?
Why does one speaker say that Berlin remains a “fragmented” city? What details from the story support your response?