Tag Archives: Berlin

Sunday Documentary: Bauhaus – The Face of the 20th Century

Titles from the documentary Bauhaus: The Face of the 20th Century

Source: Titles from the documentary ‘Bauhaus: The Face of the 20th Century’

Bauhaus: The Face of the 20 th Century, a 1994 documentary, traces the development of the Bauhaus movement from its formation in Weimar by Walter Gropius to the establishment of the Bauhaus School in Dessau to its last stand in a derelict factory in Berlin.

Like so many aspects of life in Germany in the first half of the twentieth century the Bauhaus was affected by the political situation in the country – its lifecycle mirrors that of the Weimar RepublicBerlin-born architect Walter Gropius formed his ideas of simplistic design with an altruistic ideology following his service in the army during World War I.  He first put his ideas into practice in 1919 in Weimar, the political centre of the new Germany.

The growth of National Socialism in the area around Weimar and the school’s opposite political views effectively forced the Bauhaus to move to Dessau where a new building, which fully reflected the movement’s philosophy and designs was to be its new home.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t to be the end of the Bauhaus’s struggle with the Nazi party.  The school in Dessau was also forced to close and became a training school for party functionaries.

Gropius was able to gather an impressive faculty of important names from the fields of art, design and architecture including Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, and Mies van der Rohe, who was to be the school’s last director.  He found new premises in Berlin, a derelict factory in Steglitz, and moved operations there in 1932.

The reprieve was short-lived and the Bauhaus was forced to close its doors forever when the Nazis again intervened in 1933, the year they came to power in Germany.

Though its tenure was unfortunately short, the Bauhaus movement has had a far-reaching influence on modern art, design and architecture.  Its mark can still be seen in Berlin – the Hansaviertel, Gropiusstadt and Neue Nationalgalerie all bear its architectural fingerprint.  And of course there is the wonderful Bauhaus Archiv, with an extensive collection of Bauhaus objects and designs.

Bauhaus: The Face of the 20th Century

Berlin Hippo Habitat Under Threat – The Abandoned Wernerbad

Hut and Steps at the abandoned swimming pool Wernerbad (Freibad Wernersee) in Kaulsdorf, Berlin

My search for forgotten and overlooked places in Berlin led me this week to Kaulsdorf and the Wernerbad (an abbreviated name for the Freibad Wernersee) where I found Knautschke, a concrete hippo, patrolling the long grass at the edge of the abandoned swimming pool.

Knautschke the Hippo (Nilpferd or Flusspferd) at the abandoned swimming pool Wernerbad (Freibad Wernersee) in Kaulsdorf, Berlin

Since 2002, when the Wernerbad closed, Knautschke has had the waters of the deserted pool to himself.  Named after a popular hippo (Nilpferd or Flusspferd in German) at Berlin Zoo, the sculpture, along with a group of penguins that supervised the queues at the water fountain, was created by local sculptor Erwin Kobbert.

Penguin Drinking Fountain by Erwin Kobbert at the abandoned swimming pool Wernerbad (Freibad Wernersee) in Kaulsdorf, Berlin

The original Knautschke was born in 1943 and survived the war thanks to the efforts of keepers at the zoo, who kept him watered after bombs destroyed part of the hippo enclosure.  Unfortunately, having survived the bombing raids, he was so badly wounded by his own son Nante in 1988 that he had to be put to sleep.

The fate of the concrete Knautschke is just one of the issues that has concerned local residents since plans to reopen the pool were shelved.

Dolly's Restaurant and Kneipe at the abandoned swimming pool Wernerbad (Freibad Wernersee) in Kaulsdorf, Berlin

The history of the Wernerbad begins at the turn of the twentieth century when Wilhelm Werner bought the land surrounding what is now the Wernersee (previously referred to as Katzenstertpfuhl or Achtruthenpfuhl).  In 1901 he opened the Badeschlösschen, a restaurant and bathing lodge at the edge of the water, which assumed the name Wernerbad and was formally opened in 1905.

Predating the opening of the Strandbad Wannsee by two years this means that the Wernerbad was Berlin’s first open-air swimming pool (Freibad).

The ownership and running of the Freibad was taken over by the city of Berlin in 1951 and between 1957 and 1959 a 50m tiled pool was created.

The abandoned swimming pool Wernerbad (Freibad Wernersee) in Kaulsdorf, Berlin

A new system was installed at considerable cost to improve the quality of the water in the naturally fed pool in 1991, which was again closed for refurbishment in 1994 before finally closing its doors to visitors in 2002 due to new concerns about the water quality.

Changing Rooms at the abandoned swimming pool Wernerbad (Freibad Wernersee) in Kaulsdorf, Berlin

Kneipe (Dolly's) and Gates at the abandoned swimming pool Wernerbad (Freibad Wernersee) in Kaulsdorf, Berlin

The association Freunde des Wernerbades e.V was established in 2006 with the aim of reopening the pool to the public but a number of issues meant that it was  unable to achieve its objective.  There were concerns over the lack of adequate parking, noise levels and the effect of increased traffic in the area.  In addition the overgrown pool now provides a natural habitat for wildlife.  The cost of the project also played a part as significant investment would be required to install a water treatment system capable of bringing the water quality up to current standards.

The abandoned and overgrown swimming pool Wernerbad (Freibad Wernersee) in Kaulsdorf, Berlin

Steps and Hut at the abandoned swimming pool Wernerbad (Freibad Wernersee) in Kaulsdorf, Berlin

Wassertiefe sign at the abandoned swimming pool Wernerbad (Freibad Wernersee) in Kaulsdorf, Berlin

As a result, on 13 June 2013 the Abgeordnetenhaus von Berlin (the state parliament or House of Representatives) approved the declassification of the Wernerbad as a sports area.  This removes the site from the responsibility of Berliner Bäder Betriebe, the body that manages the swimming pools in Berlin, and allows for the sale of the land to an investor for development.

The latest proposal is for a home for the elderly with facilities for the treatment of dementia to take up the majority of the land.  The Eastern shore of the Wernersee will remain accessible to the public.

The slide at the abandoned swimming pool Wernerbad (Freibad Wernersee) in Kaulsdorf, Berlin

Since the closure, Marzahn-Hellersdorf is the only district of Berlin without a Freibad.  The local council has been hoping for some time to expand the Kinderbad in Bürgerpark Marzahn for adult swimming but lacked the funds to do so.  It is now hoped that some of the proceeds of the sale of the Wenerbad can be used to finance this project.

Hut and Lamp Post at the abandoned swimming pool Wernerbad (Freibad Wernersee) in Kaulsdorf, Berlin

As for Knautschke, Sven Kohlmeier, the SPD representative for Marzahn-Hellersdorf in the Abgeordnetenhaus von Berlin is determined to ensure that the hippo remains in Kaulsdorf.

The abandoned swimming pool Wernerbad (Freibad Wernersee) in Kaulsdorf, Berlin

For now though, the reeds continue to grow around the roaring (or is he yawning) beast as he stands perfectly still in the dirty water of the Wernerbad, and the abandoned swimming pool in Kaulsdorf, like many of Berlin’s derelict sites and buildings is visited only by those out for a little urbex adventure.

Berlin Songs: Solomun – Kackvogel

Still from Solomun - Kackvogel featuring Friedrich Liechtenstein from the Edeka Supergeil advert

Still from Solomun – Kackvogel featuring Friedrich Liechtenstein from the Edeka Supergeil advert

An advert for the German supermarket chain Edeka went viral recently. My social media streams have been full of ‘Supergeil’ all week. The star of the advert is Friedrich Liechtenstein, a German musician and entertainer.  He also stars in the video for Kackvogel by Solomun, dancing through the streets of Berlin and eventually fighting with a man in a bear costume under a bridge near Alexanderplatz station.

Solomun – Kackvogel

Sunday Documentary: Nazi Megastructures – Fortress Berlin

Flakturm in Humboldthain Park: Screenshot from Nazi Megastructures - Fortress Berlin by National Geographic

Photo: Screenshot from Nazi Megastructures – Fortress Berlin by National Geographic

The National Geographic documentary, Nazi Megastructures – Fortress Berlin, tells how, determined to fight on to the bitter end, Adolf Hitler, with the help of his architect, Albert Speer, attempted to turn Berlin into a fortress with World War II approaching its conclusion.

Having turned the tide in the war, the Red Army was making significant progress into Germany.  At Seelower Höhen (Seelow Heights), near the Polish border, irrigation ditches were widened to act as tank traps, slowing down the Soviet army’s advance on Berlin.

The outer ring of Berlin’s defences was a natural obstacle, the Teltowkanal (Teltow Canal), and considerable armaments have been amassed at Flughafen Berlin Tempelhof (Tempelhof Airport).

The city was further protected by three enormous Flak Towers, concrete monoliths mounted with heavy artillery, of which only the Flakturm in Humboldthain park remains today.

At the centre of Hitler’s defences is the Führerbunker, from where he directs his forces in their last desperate attempts to hold Berlin.

A mixture of archive footage, computer reconstructions, and expert opinions with the likes of a tour guide from Berliner Unterwelten (who offer tours of the surviving Flakturm, as wells as other architectural treasures under Berlin) Nazi Megastructures – Fortress Berlin is a fascinating portrait of Hitler’s ultimately futile defence plans.

Nazi Megastructures – Fortress Berlin

Berlin Maps: Rents, Crime, Transport and Planning

Over the last couple of weeks a number of posts have popped up in my Social Media timelines with links to maps of Berlin.  The maps provide valuable insights into the history and development of the city and/or useful tools for residents and future residents alike.

Interactive Map of Berlin Rents and Affordability

Berlin Rents and Affordability Interactive Map Screenshot

Source: Berliner Morgenpost

Published by Berliner Morgenpost under the title Neuvermietungen: Wo Sie sich Berlin leisten können, and based on the GSW Wohnmarkt-Report 2014, this interactive map allows you to determine where you can afford to live in Berlin.

The data is based on properties offered for rental in the first three quarters of 2013.

A slider allows you to select a monthly net income for your household and by selecting the number of rooms required (bedrooms +1), the map will display rental data for each of the areas marked on the map.

The map is colour-coded to show the percentage of household income required to rent the given properties (typical area in m2).

There is also a very handy comparison with prices in 2008 for those interested in the development of the property rental market in Berlin.

Click here for the Neuvermietungen: Wo Sie sich Berlin leisten können interactive map of Berlin rents and affordability.

Via überlin on Facebook

Berlin Atlas of Crime

Berlin Atlas of Crime Interactive Crime Statistics Map Screenshot

Source: Berlin Atlas of Crime by Tobias Burri and Lars Bullmann

The Berlin Atlas of Crime is an interactive map created by Tobias Burri and Lars Bullmann that visualises criminal activity in Berlin for 2010 and 2011, with data taken from the August 2012 report of the same name, as produced by the police of the Federal State of Berlin.

The dropdown menu allows the user to switch between overall crime statistics or specific categories of crime: Robbery, Mugging, Arson etc. to create a Heatmap.  Clicking on each district of the map displays more detailed crime figures.

You can find out more about the data represented in the ‘About the Project’ section of the website.

Click here for the Berlin Atlas of Crime interactive map of crime statistics.

Via Digital Cosmonaut on Twitter.

Interactive Berlin Transport Map

VBB-Livekarte Interactive Berlin Transport Map Screenshot

Source: VBB

Currently in a test phase on website of VBB (Verkehrsverbund Berlin-Brandenburg), the provider of public transport for Berlin and Brandeburg, the VBB-Livekarte is an interactive travel map.

The user selects the transport options required and the currently active services move along their routes on the map.

Whilst it is still in development (U-Bahn and bus data is not currently available) this is an interesting development and once full, real-time data is available with be an invaluable travel tool for Berlin.

Click here for the VBB-Livekarte interactive map of Berlin public transport.

Via berlinish on Twitter.

Figure-ground Diagram (Schwarzplan) of Berlin (2010)

Berlin Schwarzplan (Figure-ground Diagram) 2010

Source: Shlur

Schwarzplan is the German term for a Figure-ground Diagram, an architectural map, which is described by Gareth Davies on Shlur:

Mostly used by city planners, architects and urban designers, the idea of a figure-ground diagram goes back to 18th Century Rome, when Giambattista Nolli created a detailed map of 12 copper plates using the same basic principle. White symbolises unbuilt space, such as roads, parks and squares, and black indicates built space in terms of the ground-plan of the buildings. The result is something both abstract and filled with detail, a kind of practical Yin and Yang of the city. Figure-ground diagrams help to see the ratio of built space to that of empty space, enabling city planners to envisage areas that are conducive to a good communities, have a human scale and don’t lead to a disconnectedness between buildings and the further urban fabric.

The article on Shlur has further maps of Berlin that show it’s historical development.  The comparison of the maps from 1940 and 1953 show the shocking extent of the destruction of Berlin in World War II.

Click here for for the Shlur article: Schwarzplan – Maps in Monochrome.

Via Slow Travel Berlin on FB.

Sunday Documentary: Do Communists Have Better Sex? (NSFW)

Do Communists Have Better Sex Cartoon Still 2

Photo: Still from Do Communists Have Better Sex Cartoon

The 2006 documentary ‘Do Communists Have Better Sex?’, explores the sexual attitudes of Germans and in particular the differences between the mind-set of East and West Germans when it comes to sex and sexuality.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, scientists were keen to study the sociological and psychological differences of the previously divided people of the newly re-unified nation.

With footage from numerous TV programmes and public information films, the documentary examines the paradox that in the more controlled society of communist East Germany, people are more satisfied with their sex lives.

It is suggested that against the backdrop of seemingly overt sexual openness: pornography; nudity; Frei Körper Kultur (FKK); and prostitutes brazenly offering themselves on well-trodden streets, like the area around Berlin’s S-Bahnhof Zoologischer Garten, sex was not openly discussed in the more liberal West.

Do Communists Have Better Sex Cartoon Still 2

Photo: Still from Do Communists Have Better Sex Cartoon

In East Germany where abortion and prostitution were illegal, sex education and sexual discussions were more prevalent.

At 45 minutes, all I could think was ‘Wa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pow!‘ because of Ylvis’s What Does The Fox Say?

Due to the subject matter and the inclusion of numerous scenes of nudity (including the obligatory naked volleyball shots) , the documentary ‘Do Communists Have Better Sex?’ has been age restricted by YouTube so you will need to sign in to view it.

Do Communists Have Better Sex? (2006)

Vermibus – Dissolving Europe: The Ad-busting Street Artist At Work

Vermibus - Dissolving Europe - following the artist as he realises his latest ad-busting campaign

Photo: Still from Vermibus – Dissolving Europe by Xar Lee

Dissolving Europe follows Berlin artistVermibus, who uses solvents to alter posters in his ad-busting Street Art, as he travels around Europe for his latest project, described by the artist on his Vimeo channel.

Dissolving Europe is the new public artwork that stormed Europe this year from Vermibus. Using a dubious inter-rail ticket, Vermibus set out with a set of 90 keys and his pallet of solvents to physically and temporally highjack the western world of advertisements in the name of fine art.  Each site is carefully deliberated with its environment, from Rolex boutiques, to archaic museums.  The system looks simple in movement: unlock and roll the advertising poster to create a huge blank gleaming white breath of fresh air in the urban environment. The advert then undertakes the process of counter action painting using a series of solvents and brushes.  It is then replaced in another site, another city, another country.

Vermibus – Dissolving Europe

I’m yet to see a Vermibus piece in situ in Berlin but I did see his work at Stroke Urban Art Fair 2012 and Stattmarkt.  And for now, I’ll just keep my eyes peeled as I wander the streets in the hope of seeing the real thing.

Sunday Documentary: Sub Berlin – The Story of Tresor

Removing the Tresor sign - still from Sub Berlin - The Story of Tresor

Photo: Still from Sub Berlin – The Story of Tresor

Tresor was at the vanguard of the Techno movement in Berlin as the city adjusted to its post-reunification status.

Berlin newcomers and the press hail Berghain as one of the world’s greatest clubs but Techno lovers of the 90s and early 00s will say ‘you should have been in ‘the old Tresor’.

The old club on Leipziger Strasse was torn down in 2005 as part of the redevelopment of Potsdamer Platz.  The building housing the original Tresor had a checkered past.  It was previously the vault under the Wertheim department store, seized by the Nazis and subsequently destroyed during the bombing raids of World War II.

Tresor re-opened in 2007 in Heizkraftwerk Mitte, a former power station on Köpenicker Strasse, and a new shopping mall is currently being built at its previous location on Leipziger Strasse.

Through interviews with clubbers and DJs who were part of the story, photos and video footage, Sub Berlin – The Story of Tresor, a 2009 documentary by Tilman Künzel tells the tale of Tresor from its opening in 1991 to the closure of its original location in 2005.

Sub Berlin – The Story of Tresor

Berlin: Giant Bear Pole Dances Around Fernsehturm

Berlin Tanzt - Photo from YouTube video from Tanzbüro Berlin

Photo: Still from YouTube video by Tanzbüro Berlin

Let’s be honest, a dancing bear is bound to get your attention.  If you’ve been in Berlin over the last month or so you will have noticed the posters for Berlin Tanzt with a bear captured mid-leap in many of the U-Bahn stations.

But when that bear appears in a video and is as tall as the Kugel of the Fernsehturm and uses it to do a pole dance you’re hooked, right?

Well check out this genius advert for Berlin Tanzt from Tanzbüro Berlin on YouTube then:

tanzcard präsentiert: BERLIN TANZT. Auf 22 Bühnen.

Berlin Tanzt is a dance festival performing on 22 stages across Berlin from 29 January to 28 February 2014.  For more details check out the Tanzraum Berlin website.

Sunday Documentary: The Tunnel

People At The Berlin Wall At Schwedter Strasse - Still From NBC Documentary - The Tunnel

Photo: Still from The Tunnel – NBC

Produced by Reuven Frank and narrated by Piers Anderton and first aired on 10 December 1962, the NBC documentary The Tunnel follows a group of West Berlin students determined to help people flee communist East Berlin.

Featuring footage shot inside the tunnel under the Berlin wall, the programme offers a unique insight into the remarkable efforts some were willing to go to in order to secure the freedom of others.

The tunnel stretched 120 to 140 metres below the border from Schönholzer Strasse 7 to Bernauer Strasse 78.

As the film points out the intention was to free many more East Germans but the tunnel flooded after 29 people had used it to cross from East to West.

The Tunnel

The documentary and the story it depicts also inspired the film Der Tunnel (2001) and the documentary Der Tunnel: Die Wahre Geschichte (1999).

Der Tunnel (auf Deutsch)

Der Tunnel: Die Wahre Geschichte

Unfortunately, embedding has been disabled for this video but you can find it here.