Berlin today

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Terminal building of Flughafen Tempelhof, built 1936-41, designed by Ernst Sagebiel.

However deplorable its origins, Tempelhof is a tremendous collection of buildings. Like the Olympic stadium complex, it was laid out to impress and hammer home the message of power and dominance. Arriving at Tempelhof airport must have been like arriving at one of the great railway stations: a sign that your destination was worth the journey.

IMG_0614IMG_0598In front of the airport buildings is Platz der Luftbrücke and the memorial to those killed accidentally during the Berlin blockade (1948-9). The three prongs pointing west represent the three air corridors that kept West Berlin supplied during the blockade. It also made me think of a wing that has crashed to earth.

The airfield behind is an enormous protected public space, which is a wonderful thing in the centre of a rapidly rebuilding city. On a cool, cloudy morning it was nothing much to look at . . . but I couldn’t believe my ears when I tuned into skylark song. They seemed to be everywhere – mostly in the dewy grass. I ventured in a little way and disturbed one, so I backed off and just enjoyed the singing.

On the way to the airport I noticed a Jugendstil theatre in Stresemannstraße: the Hebbel. Designed by Oskar Kaufmann and built 1907-8; I found it very striking but rather ugly. All that rusticated stone . . . why?

And this afternoon took in a visit to the DDR Museum, which was rather too crowded for my taste. It was well designed and interesting in its depiction of normal life in the DDR, but the shop at the end was a little disconcerting. All those postcards with DDR slogans . . . do you send them ironically? Do you ignore their provenance and judge them purely in terms of effectiveness or aesthetics? Should I smile at the following?

Wie verdoppelt man den Wert eines Trabis?

Volltanken!

Yes, I should!

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