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GERMANY / BERLIN, PHOENIX-CITY

GERMANY / BERLIN, PHOENIX-CITY (55 photos) Send this reportage Send this reportage
More than 60 years after the downfall of the Third Reich and 20 years after the fall of the wall, the cradle of the two major totalitarian regimes of the 20th century fully assumes its vocation as the “capital of European memory”.
© P. Forget./TheReportage.com
Categories: Tourism
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70,000 tons of bombs, 80,000 dead, 75 million cubic meters of rubble: in the days following the end of the Second World War, Berlin, given over to disease and famine, provided a vision of the end of the world.

More than 60 years after the downfall of the Third Reich and 20 years after the fall of the wall, the cradle of the two major totalitarian regimes of the 20th century fully assumes its vocation as the “capital of European memory”.

Yet, despite the multiplication of its commemorative monuments, the city has not transformed itself into a vast memorial. On the former Eastern side, many socialist murals have disappeared from the buildings and hectoliters of pastel stucco have covered the pox-ridden façades of Prenzlauer Berg. The Potsdamer Platz has imposed its futurist silhouette and the government’s new quarter, which seals the definitive union of the two Berlins, has ostensibly turned its back on the past.

Other buildings that symbolize Berlin have followed the double principle of destruction and reconstruction: as in the case of the majestic Reichstag, which, stripped of its rags of the 1950s-1960s, has regained its structure of 1894… spectacularly adorned by an ultramodern cupola. But it’s also the case for the greatest absentee: the Wall.

Through some irony to which only history holds the secret, this impervious frontier, of which we do not stop celebrating the collapse, remains the main tourist attraction in Berlin and so it has to be partially preserved. In the Friedrichshain, the municipality continues maintaining the 1300-odd meters of the East Side Gallery at the cost of a small fortune.

Photos: Forget-Gautier