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Berlin: Embracing the differences

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Franz Strasser | 10:27 UK time, Wednesday, 11 November 2009

On my last stop in Berlin, I asked a former professor about the economic climate in east Germany and was surprised by a gaping hole in the middle of the city.

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What have been your impressions of Berlin and what do you think of the decision to rebuild the city palace?


  • Comment number 1.

    Destroying the original palace was a denial of history and an act of cultural vandalism. Destroying the socialist palace looks like a denial of history and culture in former East Germany. I support restoration on aesthetic grounds alone.

  • Comment number 2.

    Hello Franz, I don't know if you would find this interesting. In 1994 I took part in an educational youth project - to join a team of young europeans to devise and perform a play challenging racism. We were together for about two months. It was called "Courage" and we were based in the former GDR region of Sachsen Anhalt. We stayed in a former Prussian country house in Peseckendorf, Magdeburg. We toured the region and ended with a grand finale in Tangehutte, a then neo-nazi stronghold. It was a a significant experience for all of us involved and it remains a life-long bench mark for me.We even had a police escort at one point! I would love to know how things have changed since then. whether our little play made any real difference to the people who saw it and the towns we visited. I have hoped for a reunion and evaluation but alas it is proving difficult to contact people. I then went to stay in Berlin for a few days and feel very priviledged to have at least experienced the Wall that remained and to witness the start of the changes to come. many thanks, Fio

  • Comment number 3.

    Hi, great video. What's the name of the song/singer? Thanks.

  • Comment number 4.

    These blog about Germany was a very informative and unique 3D-video series (composition of,, I followed all parts with a great curiosity, last but not least the comments. Thanks to BBC. Thanks and congratulation Franz Strasser.

  • Comment number 5.

    I much enjoyed all the vedio displayed here , thanks Franz !

  • Comment number 6.

    oh , by the way , Franz , i also would like to konw What's the name of the song/singer? xie xie!

  • Comment number 7.


    What have been your impressions of Berlin and what do you think of the decision to rebuild the city palace?

    I have never been to Berlin, But, I think it is a good
    idea to rebuild the city palace....

    =Dennis Junior=

  • Comment number 8.

    Again, my congratulations on a wonderful, beautifully made and richly illuminating series. Above all, it was told with empathy and a very attractive "simpatico" style, which didn't avoid drawing attention to unpleasant facts, or the whole nature of the past, but managed not to be judgemental at the same time. A treat to watch and listen to (and what was the music used throughout? ). If I was still teaching the history/politics of Russia and Central/Eastern Europe, I'd certainly recommend Franz's excellent series to my students.

    As an historian, I tend to prefer when what represents "the past" is allowed to remain, rather than being surgically removed so that it may seem it never existed, and where references to it may also have been removed from records as well - in its earlier period, the communist era was notorious for this particular practice.

    However, much of the architecture of the communist era was hideous, and possibly merited removal on aesthetic ground. Worse, given the historic role of architecture in the various versions of Germany in representating the state's sense of itself, well, I can see why this might be a somewhat controversial topic in both past and present. Again, Franz, well done on an excellent, thought-provoking journey.

  • Comment number 9.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 10.

    This may come az a surpise to Germans either from East or West, but an awful lot of people in Europe and indeed the wider world are not in the remotest bit interested in them at all - when the Beatles went to Germany in the sixties they went to Hamburg, a much more vibrant and interesting place than Berlin or Bonn, and also a sea port like Liverpool.Other people who have set foot in this deeply boring, inward looking tortured and self regarding country do wish that they would snap out of it and wake up to other people .The life of the United Kingdom never faced East into the heartland of Europe, toward Czech Republic and Poland, and all the rest - Russia was more dramatic, more wild, more interesting ,and also on our side in two World Wars. I think that it is a pity that the German people from anywhere cannot open up to the world and get out of their fundamentally provincial and tedious soul searching about themselves.Most British and European cities have more "soul" -this place of Berlin is absolutely deviod of any heart, mind soul or attraction to anyone who doesn't want to go on about the Second World War and divided Germany. What esle have you got to offer?

  • Comment number 11.

    Maybe you're not interested Julie, which is a pity, but have you been to the city? Berlin, not being a particularly rich city is home of all kinds of from the ground up movements, from painting to music. It is the city of the world's first sexual liberation movement. Protector of artists and writer's who fled both pogroms and harassment to the east, the birthplace of Social Democracy....need I go on. I'm not German so I see the legacy of this city in terms of broad European heritage, far outstripping that of my hometown Dublin, or the place where I live, Milan.

    Berlin is at one, both cosy and worldly and it is only right that she can be a 'Weltstadt' once again.

  • Comment number 12.

    #3 and #6

    The singer is Marius Westernhagen and the song is called Wieder Hier.
    You can find it on YouTube.

  • Comment number 13.


    I doubt, that you visited Berlin in the last 10 years; I cannot think of any other city in Europe that is more vibrant.
    This is certainly due to the fact, that housing prices are cheap.

  • Comment number 14.

    I've been to Berlin 3 times and love the place...The first time was in the early-90's. I drove through on the way to Poland. There was still very much an East-West divide and traces of the wall were still very visible.
    I think it is right to demolish the palace, it was a very brutal and ugly architectural style and really didn't fit to the city to anyone who thinks Berlin is boring, well, you must lead a very adventurous life...
    Great series Franz!

  • Comment number 15.

    Your professor is a jerk.Detroit shouldn't be used as an example.1 unemployment in Detroit is always,always,always worse during economic times than anywhere else in country this is nothing new,however Detroit problem is more long term and less about unemployment or economy.It's about urban sprawl and politics.more than 4 million people live in suburbs around Detroit.Where do think the people of Detroit went and employment.Detroit like Berlin is rebuilding our old buildings and fixing our old treasures,some are owned by Ubber rich who refuse to to fix their property in Detroit like the old train station.I am glad Berlin wants to rebuild it past,why not?By the why San Fransisco and all of California is having their own problems including losing their industries.What any City or people anywhere needs is a sense of community and working together,that's what Detroit and it's Metro is learning again.Educate together and build together and your city will come together past and present.Don't ever allow Urban Sprawl.Than people move from problems instead of fixing them.

  • Comment number 16.

    there is another great song by Westernhagen. it is called "Freiheit":

  • Comment number 17.


    Embracing the differences are always good for the enhancing the city culture in Berlin....

    =Dennis Junior=


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