Nationella minoriteter i historieundervisningen: Bilder av romer i Utbildningsradions program under perioden 1975-2013

heter Aleksandra Indzic Dujsos lic-avhandling. Den läggs fram vid Faluns högskola den 5 juni och som nummer 11 i vår forskarskola Historiska medier.

Aleksandra jobbar till vardags som gymnasielärare i historia och samhällskunskap i Fagersta. Hela avhandlingen hittar du här  abstracten lyder så här:

In 2000 when Sweden signed the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities the Roma minority became one of the acknowledged national minorities in the country. It meant that the rights of the Roma mi-nority would be safeguarded and the knowledge of its history and culture would be spread. In that context, the Swedish school, with its founded as-signment of democracy, was given an important role. The education was to communicate the multicultural values of the society and to make visible the history and culture of the Roma minority.

The school books used in teaching today do not meet these demands. The view of the Roma minority given in school books is often inadequate and simplified. The present study will therefore examine a different type of edu-cational material used in schools and teaching, The Swedish Educational Broadcasting Company‟s programs of history and social studies regarding the Roma minority. Starting in postcolonial theory as well as critical dis-course analysis the study examines how the picture of the Roma cultural and ethnic identity in the Swedish Educational Broadcasting Company‟s material has been displayed and possibly changed during the period of 1975 to 2013.

The results show a picture of Roma which, both in form and content, con-sists of some clearly demarcated discursive categories. The obvious continui-ty of the categories gives a picture of static and invariable Roma identity. At the same time this unambiguous picture is broken both by giving the existing discourses new meaning and also adding new discourses. The complexity and nuances become more prominent and the Roma identity is integrated in common Swedish history telling. The changes in the view of Roma, given by the Swedish Educational Broadcasting Company, can mainly be explained by the change of the Swedish immigration and minority policy and, as a conse-quence of this, the change of the school‟s mission regarding knowledge communication of Sweden as a multicultural country.

Avhandlingar från forskarskolan Historiska medier

Här publicerar vi länkar till våra avhandlingar allteftersom de publiceras i DiVA. I vår försvarar  8 forskande lärare sina studier och i höst kommer ytterligare 7. Välkommen till disputationer i Umeå 26 – 28 maj och Falun den 2 – 3 juni. Mer information får ni om ni klickar på respektive avhandling.

Nr 1. Karin Sandberg, Möte med det förflutna: Digitaliserade primärkällor i historieundervisningen

Nr 2. Lina Spjut, Den envise bonden och Nordens fransmän: Svensk och finsk etnicitet samt nationell historieskrivning i Sverige och Finland 1866-1939

Nr 3. Andreas Westerberg, Historieundervisning och medieteknik: Diskurser om teknik i klassrummet under 1980-talet och åren kring 2010

Nr 4. Maria Deldén, Historien som fiktion: En studie av elevers tankar och känslor utifrånhistorisk spelfilm

Nr 5. Robert Thorp, Historical Consciousness, Historical Media, and History Education,  Roberts alla artiklar hittar du här.

Nr 6. Cecilia Johansson, Högstadieungdomar skriver historia på bloggen: Undervisningliteracy och historiemedvetande i ett nytt medielandskap

Nr 7. Annie Olsson, Läroboken i historieundervisningen: En fallstudie med fokus på elever,lärare och läroboksförfattare

Nr. 8. Ulrika Boström, ”När man kollar på bilden tänker man så här”: En receptionsstudie av gymnasieelevers uppfattning om bilder som kunskapskällor i historieundervisningen.

Nr 9 Catharina Hultkrantz, Playtime En studie om film som pedagogiskt i historieämnet på gymnasiet

Nr 10 Lena Almqvist  Nielsen, Förhistorien som kulturellt minne Historiekulturell förändring i svenska läroböcker 1903-2010

Sveriges roligaste monument – Osthyveln i Ånäset?

Osthyveln i ÅnäsetVåra historieforskarögon har blivit känsliga för monument. Detta bidrag kommer från Andreas Westerberg i Skellefteå. Som ni förstår befinner han sig i Västerbottenostens förlovade land. Anar vi ett kommersiellt historiebruk?

Anta gärna utmaningen och skicka bilder på roliga monument som ni stöter på i sommar. Skicka till Cecilia Johansson

Berlin’s Restaurant Nolle – History Served Cold


This paper will present an analysis of the interior design of Restaurant Nolle located in central Berlin. As this paper will argue, the historically influenced interior design of the restaurant exemplifies something that could be a rather complex use of history. The analysis will be linked to the concepts memory, historical consciousness and historical culture to afford a theoretical background to the analysis.

What Is a Historical Monument?

One could argue that a Berlin restaurant does not qualify as a historic monument, since it is in fact a restaurant and not a monument dedicated to the memory of something historic. If one, however, regards monuments not as much as dedications to history, but as tributes to things past one could argue that the restaurant could be counted as a monument.# The fact that the restaurant mimics a French brasserie from the 1920’s seems to be essential, at least for the proprietors of the restaurant (more about this later). One could also imagine that some of the frequenting public go there to get a feeling of history and things past. Furthermore, as James E. Young notes, more or less anything can be used as a monument, it is the use that determines what is and what is not a monument.#

Restaurant Nolle

Restaurant Nolle’s website greets its visitors by inviting them to “bask in 1920’s elegance.”# Accordingly, the interior design of the restaurant, located in Berlin Mitte, immediatey brings the visitor into what is perceived as a classy Paris brasserie in the early 20th century. You are welcomed by servants dressed in white shirts and aprons. If you have ever visited the famous Brasserie La Coupole in the Montparnasse region of Paris, you will recognise the high, well lit, arched and art deco-adorned ceiling as well as the art-decorated walls and the font used on the signs in the restaurant. Throughout the restaurant there are palm trees and the walls are decorated with paintings by French art deco painter George Barbier. Furthermore, to enhance the classic and genuine atmosphere the walls are paved with what seems to be marble pillars and boards and mahogany wood boards. The lamps used to light the walls and ceiling are also what could be classified as early 20th century in style. In other words, a lot of care seems to have gone into making sure that the details are historically correct to lend the visitor the impression of visiting something genuine and historic, something that is confirmed at the restaurants homepage: it claims that the restaurant offers a “unique and historical setting” and that its walls are “full of history.”# It seems to be and claims to be the real thing, more or less.

Robert 1Robert 2

 Pictures describing details of the dining room at Restaurant Nolle. Photography by the author of this text.


“Seems” is an important word here, however, since the more you inspect the interior of the restaurant, the more you will recognise that it is not as genuinely historical as one might suspect considering the information given at the restarurant’s web page. The walls are not covered with marble pillars and mahogany, but rather plywood painted to look like marble and mahogany. The palm trees are made of plastic and I would not be surprised if the heavy lamps were made of a cheaper less durable material as well. Everything about Restaurant Nolle is new: in fact there has never been a restaurant in its place; the site hosted one of Berlin’s first beer halls according to the restaurant’s web page. After a while the restaurant and its decorations take on the appearance of a façade, something which is accentuated when you enter the restaurant’s rest rooms. The door to the toilets seems to be of a sturdy wooden material and the sign stating “Toiletten” seems highly authentic. The moment you touch the door, however, you sense that there is something amiss: instead of having to push heavily to open the door, it opens quite easily and as soon as you pass it you find yourself in a very typical 21st century lavatory. You get the sensation of having walked through a time machine when you enter the rest rooms. Hopefully the images below can illustrate something of this.

Robert 5Robert 6

Pictures describing the entrance to the toilets at Restaurant Nolle and the view from the interior of the restrooms. Photography by the author of this text.

Analysis of Restaurant Nolle’s Use of History

What I have presented above is interesting for two reasons: the things that Restaurant Nolle eplicitly presents, and what can be derived implicitly from the explicit uses of history in the choice of decoration. Let us begin with the explicit things.

To choose to decorate and market the restaurant as a 1920’s French-style brasserie in the heart of Berlin invites us to muse on the historical implications. Germany in the 1920’s was the Germany of the Weimar republic, perhaps idealised as a short period of democratic splendour, in between two horrendous examples of dictatorial rule: Kaiser Wilhelm’s appetite for personal glory that led Germany to a brutal defeat in World War I and then when Adolf Hitler seized power and made life a lot more difficult for German generations to come. The Weimar republic is sometimes portrayed as a liberal period when Germans danced to Jazz music and, of course, visited fashionable restaurants similar in style to Restaurant Nolle. This is one side of the story, and presumably the story that the proprietors of the restaurant want to portray.

The other perspective would simply be to view the Weimar republic and its liberal ideals, as what ultimately paved the way for Adolf Hitler and the NSDAP. Germany in the 1920’s was not exactly a care free place where Germans in general listened to Jazz music and visited places like Restaurant Nolle. Life in 1920’s Germany was hard with massive inflation, unemployment and political instability. Furthermore, one of the things that the Nazis were protesting againt was in fact the negative influence of foreign culture on Germany and its culture. Jazz music was American and brasseries were French, and these were symbols of two of the countries that delivered Germany the harsh peace treaty at Versailles. To dig Jazz music and visit French restaurants was thus not just an innocent pastime, but could be regarded as a rather controversial political act. We must also remember that Hitler seized power through democratic elections, which tells us something of the political atmosphere in Germany at the time, even though a lot a Hitler’s success can be accredited the financial difficulties and threats of a communist revolution.

There are at least two ways of looking at this. Firstly, one can regard the restaurant’s choice of historical era as some kind of vindication of the liberal ideals of the Weimar republic: it was not, after all, the Nazis that got the last word. Here we are in the 21st century celebrating the liberal democracy. The other way of looking at it is as some kind of historical ignorance: one could argue that the style of the restaurant is just what happens to be trendy at the moment, and that the other stuff is just irrelevant. Restaurant Nolle is just about hav ing a good time in a nice environment.

If one chooses to view the restaurant as some kind of tribute to liberal Western ideals, there are some disturbing details about the decoration of the restaurant: the poor quality of the decoration itself and the art on its walls. The poor quality of the decoration can give you the impression that it is in fact not Western liberal ideals that are being honoured here, but rather plain commercialism. If it was a homage to Western liberal democracy, we might wish that more funds had gone into the quality of the decoration. Furthermore, the fact that it is not a genuine 1920’s decoration that we meet strengthens this point of view.

The only things that are in fact genuine are the paintings by French late 19th and early 20th century painter George Barbier. Or rather they are reproductions of original paintings by Barbier. Anyway, some of the paintings portray men and women smoking, drinking, and dancing to music, and these are generally quite unproblematic. However, some of the paintings have what could be labelled as an imperial or colonial theme. It is especially one painting that I want to focus on:

Robban 7

Picture describing one of the murals by George Barbier at Restaurant Nolle. Photography by the author of this text.

What we see here is something that would hardly have been controversial to a regular German, or European, visitor in the 1920’s: it displays a white, presumably European woman, being served by two Negro waiters. Today, however, the image tells us of the injustices of the colonial era and of the deprecating view many Westerners had of black people. The choice to reproduce the painting is interesting: it could either be to obtain historical accuracy (at the price of presenting an outdated stereotype of white and black people), or just plain ignorance; it is merely a nice painting. Both alternatives are problematic for obvious reasons.

Memory, Historical Culture and Historical Consciousness

Memory can be regarded as an active reconstructive process.# What we remember is not simply what we experience, but rather what fits into our conceptions of the world, and by this same process what we remember might not be exactly what once took place. This can explain why some things we experience stick with us and others not, and why memory seems to be a dynamic ever-changing process, instead of a static reproduction of everything that has passed. James E. Young writes that “memory is never seamless, but always a montage of collected fragments, recomposed by each person and generation.”# This view turns Restaurant Nolle into a prime example of how historical significance and meaning is always constructed. Human beings possessing historical consciousnesses (i.e. abilities to construct meaning using their historical knowledge#) try to make sense of what they see, and in doing so are determined by the historical culture that surrounds them (i.e. the public or societal interpretation or perception of history#).

This complicates our analysis of historical monuments: it is as Young writes the context of all historical representations that give them meaning.# Hence, an analysis like the one in this text is very complex and multilayered, and the view presented in this text is just one view determined by my individual historical consciousness and perception of history and historical significance. Ask someone else of the guests at the restaurant, and you will probably get a different answer. This could be regarded as a problem, but at the same time the subject experiencing and reflecting on its experiences is essential in creating meaning in a historical monument (and in written assignments on historical monuments). Everything, more or less, is open to interpretation: the seemingly trendy (and perhaps innocent) decoration of the restaurant becomes full of political and historical implications to one observer, and my guess is that some of the conclusions I have drawn in this paper were not anticipated by the proprietors of restaurant. Instead of basking in 1920’s elegance, I found myself scrutinising the interior design and critically engaging with the motives behind it.


This paper has tried to show through examples how a restaurant can in fact be a historical monument. It has also analysed the explicit and implicit uses of history in the interior decoration of the same restaurant, and has tried to link these uses of history to history didactial concepts such as memory, historical consciousness and historical culture. The most striking result of the argument presented in the paper, is perhaps that historical meaning is a complex matter, and that the context, both the individual and the societal one, plays a crucial role in how historical meaning is constructed.


Aronsson, Peter. ‘Historiekultur, Politik Och Historievetenskap i Norden’. Historisk Tidskrift 122, no. 2 (June 6, 2002): 189–208.

———. Makten Över Minnet: Historiekultur i Förändring. Lund: Studentlitteratur, 2000.

Schechtman, Marya. The Constitution of Selves. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2007.

Young, James E. The Texture of Memory: Holocaust Memorials and Meaning. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993.

Zander, Ulf. ‘Läroböcker i Sten. Historiedidaktiska Aspekter På Monument Och Minnesmärken’. In Historien Är Nu: En Introduktion till Historiedidaktiken, edited by Ulf Zander and Klas-Göran Karlsson, 107–129. Lund: Studentlitteratur, 2009.

‘Restaurant Nolle’ Home page. Restaurant Nolle, 20130214.


The new Synagogue


Åsa 1At first I found it difficult to choose a site or an object for this paper. Since I had a whole weekend to spend in Berlin I decide to take a day off and only visit sites of personal interest. While standing on the corner of Oranienburger Straße and Friedrichstraße, wondering where to go next, a bright light caught my eyes. It was a sign on the roof top of a building right in front of me. Big bright letters spelled: All palaces are temporary palaces”. And if turned my head, only the slightest to the right, I could see the magnificent dome of the New Synagogue presenting its shape on the gloomy sky. To me it was obvious that these two objects’ where in a silent correspondence with one another, the sign, saying that no construction is forever, and dome rising in revolt.

So for this paper I have chosen to discuss the “texture of memory” and the link between memory and time in the light of the roof top sign. The object for the discussion is the New Synagogue.

The New Synagogue

The synagogue was built in 1859–1866 as the main synagogue of the Berlin Jewish community. The building has a Moorish style. The front of the building is ornamented with bricks of terracotta, accented with by colored glazed bricks. The most eye-catching about the building is its dome.#

During the “Kristallnacht” in November 1938 the New Synagogue was set ablaze. The scrolls violated and the loose interior piled up and set on fire. However due to the effort of Lieutenant Otto Bellgardt who arrived early on the scene and commanded the Nazi mob to disperse; the building itself suffered no major damage. Otto Bellgardt had claimed that the building was a protected historical landmark and that he would uphold the law requiring its protection.

The building was repaired by the congregation who continued to use it as synagogue. On April 5, 1940 it was announced that no more services were to be held in the synagogue. The congregants evacuated their belongings and the German army seized the main hall and used it as storage for their uniforms.

During the “Battle of Berlin” the building got heavily damaged by the allied air raid and almost completely burned to the ground.

In 1958 the eastern section of the Jewish community was prompted to tear down the remains of the rear section of the building, along with the ruins of the main hall, leaving only the less damaged front section. Even the dome got torn down in 1950s. East Berlin’s Jewish community had suffered great losses in the Holocaust and also many congregants had fled from the Communist party, the reaming few saw no other means then to demolish the remains, they alone had no chance to restore the synagogue to its former glory.


It was not until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 that reconstruction of the front section began. From 1988 to 1993, the structurally intact parts of the building, including the façade and the dome, were restored. The main sanctuary has not yet been restored.  The building was reopened in 1995. Today it houses a museum, an archive and a small shul.#

Since the focus in my discussion won’t include the exterior of the synagogue I will not present a detailed overview of its nature. The main focus will instead involve the persevering of the interior and the events taking place within these walls of fluid time. The building itself is no doubt a majestic sight, however I found the inside to be more interesting, since the traces’ caused by time are more noticeable.

Photographing is prohibited almost throughout the whole synagogue, however I managed to take one small snap shot were the past intertwines with the present. It is not a picture where you can see the delicate restoration of religious life imbedded in different objects from the past. Again, taking pictures of the Bimah, the Aron Hakodesh or even the scrolls themselves were not allowed. The picture I took represents one of the walls in the main staircase.  As one can see in the picture the old stucco work is persevered and placed side by side with the new material. It is easy for the viewer to recognize the transition between the past and the present. At a first glance it appears to be a giant jigsaw puzzle were some of the pieces seem, by the look of it to be misplaced, however the fit so beautifully together that you discharged that idea almost instantly.

The synagogue itself is a mixture of a memorial and everyday Jewish life. The past becomes frightening close while passing through the security gates at the entrance. The threat to Jewish living is still omnipresent.

Today the bottom floor of the synagogue contains an exhibition of life before the Holocaust and the Berlin Wall. Numerous of black and white pictures tells a story of a growing flourishing congregation, which offered both healthcare, childcare and soup kitchens to their members. The images are combined with displays of religious items found in the concrete floor during the restoration in the years of 1988 to 1993. The items are presented like archeological findings restrained in boxes of glass; the past and the present carefully separated trough walls of glass.

The texture of memory
Young writes about how items are displayed in museums in order for them to create meaning and coherence. The items are placed in a specific pattern created by their artistic curators. They juxtapose, narrate and remember history according to the taste of the person/persons organizing the exhibition. Young points out that these curators often are influenced by their own community’s political need and the temper of their time. #

The order in which we, the viewers, approach these items follows a “narrative matrix” in which one object is sequentially linked to the ones following.  Young asks himself: What are the principals’ around the organization of these items, what memory do they tell?

In his writing Young addresses both the physical and the metaphysical qualities of these “memorial texts”, their tactile and temporal dimension, this is what he calls the “texture of memory”. #

One of Young’s aims, he argue, is to break down the notion of any memorials “collective memory”. Instead he prefers to examine “the collected memory”, the many discrete memories that are gathered in a common memorial space. A society’s memory in this context should according to Young be regarded as aggregated collection of its members, many, often competing memories. If societies remember, he writes, it is only insofar as their institutions, organize and shape their different parts of memories. Young’s description of memories reminds me of the picture from the Synagogue, a giant puzzle were all the pieces fit by shape, but not by color or age.#

As I see it ‘collective memory’ is a shared memory, the collective memory in its most abstract form does not claim authority on what story to be told. The collective memory merely places all the different memories within one context. The memories within this context however are all different and belong to different individuals. So here we have, on the one hand a part of a collective memory, which is far larger than the synagogue, represented by the exhibition itself, all the items included. Within this collective memory a range of “collected memories” emerge. The collected memories in this case are the different areas of the exhibition’s narrative matrix. In fact, in this case we have two separated collective memories imbedded in one exhibition, The Shoah and the life of the eastern Jewish community. I prefer to use the word Shoah, rather than the Holocaust since the prior is used only within the Jewish world. And visiting an exhibition at a Synagogue, one has to acknowledge the fact that the matrix is told from a religious perspective.

In order to accommodate all the different collected memories the exhibition is literally crowded; the visitor has to navigate through flourishing religious life in a pre war context, followed by destruction due to the war, finishing with the latter political collapse and despair of the eastern Jews. It is somewhat helpful that the narrative is arranged chronologically; however the history of Jewish life in Berlin drowns in its own history.

The New Synagogue is not a typical ‘memorial’, but in the same time it is and hence it should be interpret as a memorial. The question is how and to what extend? I have visited a lot of Jewish museums throughout the world; some more ‘lavish’ then others. But they all follow the same matrix; history is always arranged in a chronological order. However, the ones I found most interesting were the ones who dared to narrow their collected memory, the ones who placed themselves as museums corresponding with the larger context linked to the collective memory; but in their exhibition only represented a collected memory from a particular group or from a certain perspective. Young writes that Holocaust monuments are often produced specifically to be historically referential; however the aim of memorials is not to draw attention to their own presence as much as remembering the past. And remembering the past is difficult, whether it is a monument or an exhibition in a museum. Because there will always be the conflict of memory and people. Memory does not exist outside a person and memory never stands still. Memory is pluralistic and hence every ‘remembrance’ must be interpreted according to its own local context and its creator. And also, the remembrance is jeopardized when the memorial tries to accommodate all memories included within a collective memory.#

Young says that it is not enough to ask whether or not our memorials remember the Holocaust, or even how they remember. We should also ask to what ends have we remembered:  how do we respond to the current moment in light of our remembered past? # An extremely relevant question with no single answer.#


The purpose of this assignment was to examine the link between time and memory; I do not know if that is what I have done. What I do know is that the assignment left me with no sleep. And I kept asking myself; how is the Berlin congregation to organize an exhibition in remembrance of all their congregants’ and their history, is that even possible?

But then I realized that is exactly what they have done. The remembrance is not only the exhibition, but the building itself. All the little pieces carefully put together in the image I took shows that time is fluid, as well as memory. They are all different but they only fit in one place, and together they create a patchwork connected to one another without regard to time.

A space is a place: or how to deal with the rooms of absence

Ulrika Boström

”Space has its own authentic capacity.”1
Daniel Libeskind

It looks deserted, abandoned. A space of minor significance is actually a place of great significance. As a stranger walking through Berlin there’s one thing that quite soon attracts your attention and that’s the industrial places, like abandoned warehouses on large open spaces. They are often kept seperate with fences and seems to lead a secluded life of its own. A life of slow decay. It’s like they’re representing a gap in the context an interrupted reading or a ”werfremdungseffect”.2 They are abruptly making one aware of a past history not in touch with the other surroundings. They are abandoned holes in a larger narrative, a pause in the drama where history speaks direcly towards the beholder.3
We didn’t have the right words for it then, that early cold morning in Berlin, but what we did was that we actually set off to find a ”counter monument.” But then, we just called it the search for the ”real” Berlin. We got off the S-Bahn at Warshauer strasse and between Revaler strasse and Warschauer strasse an area of warehouses appeared. During the summer there’s a flea market here and it’s literally buzzing with life, but now it was empty. Old artefacts of the past are being sold here, (see picture 2.) So, how does this site create or induce a specific relationship with time past, present or future? This is an examination of the constructed, the semi – constructed and the non – constructed void or a space, the so called gap.

James E. Young describes in the preface of The texture of memory, who gives siginificance to a memory? the artifacts as wholly on some Holocaust museums compared to the ones of no significance sold on a flea market. In the Jüdisches museum in Berlin there are letters, photographs and candlesticks, memorabilia of an ”ordinary” life, on display giving life to the past. Making the past as real as it ever was.
The dirty wrinkled objects are so full of life and within a breath, the Holocaust becomes brutally real, touchable, almost, Hadn’t it been for the glass. But as Young writes it’s still in the hands of the curators. Does it then make it more constructed a memory than the pieces of history I find on the streets of Berlin? The signs of past that randomly becomes visible depending on the path.

bild 1_Ulrika

Picture 1. Industrial area choose? The everyday life of the citizen of Berlin is
constructing history but is it on another level than the
ones on display behind glass in a


Picture 2. The official website of Raw flea market.(

Young discusses memory; that both its form and reasons are ”socially mandated”. It’s in the interest of societies to create a common memory with shared values as a foundation for the national identity.6How is urban policy linked to the politics of memory?
Nietzsche called any version of history ”calling itself permanent and ever-lasting a petrified history that buried the living” for monumental.4 According to this, a monument is history put in a box: signed and sealed, leaving everything up to the beholder. Young also discusses monuments as mediated history and with ready made signs some of the interpretation and remembrence is lost because someone, (society, the Nations,) has already done all that for you. A monument doesn’t stand on its own, there’s always the beholder. But what about the concept of monuments being ”the reality of ends” as Young puts it.5 This concept started me thinking of open spaces and closed spaces: the air and the emptiness in either a planned and very constructed form and on the other side the
unplanned and unstructured form.

bild 3_UlrikaPicture 3

The politics of memory at least according to the official
view of Berlin, the designer of the map, decided that my
place of interest was just in a perifer place and of no
interest, not at least compared to the ”Greatest Panorama
view at Potsdamer Platz”, which they decided to cover up
my urban place with.

The Jüdisches museum is constructed around six pillars of emptiness going through all the floors of the museum. These are all constructed spaces containing natural dayligt seeping in through openings in the wall. The walls are rugged concrete, grey and cold and the space is enormous, it’s like a void. The feeling is physical, very real, created by a big empty room, the form, and the huge emptyness is though playing with the visitors’ minds. Alongside the main museum building there’s also the Holocaust tower, another huge empty space and the Garden of Exile. Both ends in a dead end in two of the underground museum’s long corridors named axis. The Garden of Exile, is a structured desorientation, creating a nausea. The garden consists of pillars seemingly straight but the ground is tilted and it is playing tricks on the sense of balance. These kinds of physical reactions have more or less been, so to speak, bypassed the brain. Without intellectual interpretation, the reaction or feeling is instantaneous and very private.

Mediated memory
”For once we assign monumental form to memory, we have to some degree divested ourselves of the obligation to remember.”7
Can we remember that which we have never experienced. Isn’t history allways mediated? I learn about history through representations… Is that the definition of collective memory, the use of history within different cultures? I watched some teenage boys, on a field trip from school to the Jüdisches museum, walk into the Holocaust tower. It was for them a somewhat strange experience, I guess. They in fact, came out laughing, not fully understanding and reacting to insecurity in that, typical teenage way,: laughing nervously. I assume it’s better to be disturbed in some way than feel nothing at all. The way the tower works is such a good way of creating the illusion of historical understanding, I think. The boys aren’t aware of it yet, but in time the intellect will catch up with the emotional experience. It’s like with the different memorabilia, the artefacts, the little things from real victims of the Holocaust and exile, on display in the museum. The fact of knowing their destiny makes these belongings almost surreal. Suddenly a door into the past opens up. Just then and there, in that moment you can either step through it or stay on the other side of the glass. The tower and the Garden of exile is also working with the emotional effect but more directly, more physical. You feel something whether you want it or not. It’s not directly connected to a certain time of the past it’s more the effect of feeling disorientated. Having worked as a history teacher for some years now, it’s that goal you’re sort of hoping to achieve in the pupils. It’s a sort of gut feeling of what it was like for people in the past, it’s that difficult thing of historical empathy or understanding.

The use of abstraction is thus bravely used in the Jüdisches museum. When interviewed the architect explained how he had to argue for his idea of using six voids in the museum. Six large empty rooms of no practical use was a difficult thing to grasp and understand for the people responsible for the financing of the building. One can also understand the complicated use of abstraction when it comes to monuments because it leaves to much of the the interpretation open to private visions. This will clash with the idea of creating a collective memory and common ideals and ideas of the past.8

The counter monument.
In our search for the somewhat diffuse idea of the ”real” Berlin I wonder whether or not we actually was looking for the aura of history itself. When history, and the people talk, what do they actually say? What I’m trying to exemplify here is also found in Young’s debate about what a true German memorial of the fascist era and its victims would actually be. He concludes that maybe the best memorial is the political debate over which memory to preserve.9 Linking my discussion back to my initial questions about history and memory: How are the new generations supposed to deal with a memory that is not their own authentic memory, like the teenagers in the Holocaust tower. Both Libeskind and Young relates the question of a new counter movement or a new interpretation of the past… Libeskind defines the six pillars of emptiness as a refusion to give in to nostalgia and a refusion of the idea of a museum. He meant that a museum like this just can’t surrender to the fact of being finished; signed and sealed. The construction is filled with symbolism, the angles, the rooms, the light speaks by itself.10 It made me think of a parable, Gaston Bachelard writes in The Poetics of space: the classic look at how we experience intimate places: ”the corner denies the palace, dust denies marble and worn objects denies splendor and luxury.”11 There’s always the voids to keep the rigid monumental out of the museum. Young disusses a debate among the new generation of artists in Germany whether a monument is: ”more an impediment than an incitement to public memory.”12 He explains the importance of memory but at the same time the inability to recall events from past history which you never experienced. Therefore, he says: ”they remember only their own relationship to events, the great gulf of time between themselves and the Holocaust.”13 The slowly vanishing of the memorial indicates the floating of time and memory, as Nietzsche also reflected that history is not fixed eternally and never changing. These evolving or decaying monuments show the problematic in a fixed mediated memory. Or as Young questions: ”How does one remember an absence?”14 Maybe we have to create memorials and monuments with all senses involved, not just the visual and the intellectual?

It was also the mission of that day, to go look for the perifer authentic history away from the constructed mediated history. Berlin is full of the non-constructed but authentic places that are revived by the needs and interests of the inhabitants of Berlin.
There’s a freedom about the open spaces or the places that are being left alone to sort of organize themselves. The open spaces the emptyness the left over signs of former life, the visible forms of decay that are being kept strictly guarded by fences shows a memorial to abscence and time, the floating of time as mentioned and it’s created by circumstances generated from partly no human control. With every return to Berlin, it still stands there being taken care of by time alone, time’s not so gentle but rough hand. As it’s slowly decaying it will also become part of the future. So therefore: mind the gap.

1 A documentary about the Jüdisches museum by Stan Neumann and Richard Copans. The architect Daniel Libeskind, comments on the building: 2013-02-13.

2 Aron Aspenström, a Swedish architect wrote an article on the meaning of architecture in constructed public places. He talks especially on an area in Copenhagen, ”Superkilen” in Norrebro, that was desigend around the concept of recognition among many different cultures. ”Offentliga rum i samtal med invånarna” Svenska Dagbladet, 2013-01-20.

3 A small paraphrase to Brecht that I couldn’t help…

4 James Edward Young, The texture of memory: Holocaust memorials and meaning, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1993, p 4.

5 Young p. 3-4

6 Young p 6

7 Young, p 4.

8 Young p 10.

9 Young, p 21

10 Stan Neumann and Richard Copans. The architect Daniel Libeskind, comments on the building: 2013-02-13.

11 Gaston Bachelard writes in The Poetics of space: the classic look at how we experience intimate places (Beacon Press: Boston,1994,) 143.

12 Young p 27.

13 Young p 27.

14 Young p 45. The Gertz and Esther Shalev Gertz monument, the vanishing monument.

Ett universitets idéodyssé över historiens hav

Catharina Hultkrantz

Kan ett universitet ses som ett monument? Monumentets syfte är att högtidliggöra något och bevara ett minne till kommande generationer samt att lära något av historien. Att dö på ett vackert sätt är också att föredra för att komma på fråga1.

Vädret var gråkallt som det brukar i januari då jag gjorde ett besök vid Humbuldts universität zu Berlin (HU) på adressen Unter den Linden 6. Den sittande statyn vid grinden förställande grundaren Friedrich Wilhelm Christian Carl Ferdinand von Humboldt, född 1767 och död 1835, hade fått en skyddande kur över sig. Likaså var det för brodern Alexanders staty på andra sidan av grindhålet. Trots det gav entrén ett pampigt intryck med sina stora grindstolpar, övriga statyer och tunga dörrar in till lärdomens boning. Väl inne mötte ett citat av Karl Marx upp med orden ”Die Philosophen haben die Welt nur verschieden interpretiert, es kommt aber darauf an sie zu verändern.” Texten som är placerad i den stora trappan har talat till åtskilliga studenter under årens lopp. Formeln kan nog anses ha besannats, men på ett annorlunda sätt, om man studerar de förändringar som skett över tid.

Då jag sökte information om universitetet fastnade jag i idéhistorikern Nils Erik Forsgårds bok 10115 Berlin från 2005, där han berättar om sin tid som gästlärare vid Humboldts universitet. Han skriver att citatet kom dit 1953. Fram till 1993 fanns även en byst av Marx placerad i entrén, vilken nu är försvunnen. Marx var inskriven som student under åren 1836-1841 och fortsatte senare som föreläsare. Under sina tretton studieterminer ska han bara ha varit synlig vid tolv föreläsningar enligt den historia som florerar om honom. Om hans egna elever, däribland Berthold Brecht, var flitigare med närvaron förtäljer dock inte historien.2

Vem var Humboldt?

I Svensk uppslagsbok från 1932 beskrivs Wiliam Humboldt som en tysk humanist och statsman. Som 22-åring besökte han Paris 1789, vilket måhända blev katalysator för de artiklar han skrev under åren 1789-1792, vilka vännen Schiller lät publicera i sin tidskrift. Artiklarna gavs senare ut i samlad form efter Humboldts död 1851, under namnet Ideen zu einem Versuch, die Grenzen der Wirsamkeit des Staats zu bestimmen. I artiklarna redovisas de idéer om bildningsfrihet gentemot staten vilket 1810 i viss mån agerade nav för det universitet han grundade.3 Reformidéerna var inspirerade av Johann Gottlieb Fichte och Friedrich Schleiermacher. I och med denna reformering  förbättrades även kvinnornas position inom universitetsvärlden. ”Since 1908 women have been admitted to universities in Prussia and soon afterwards they were employed as assistant or associate professors in both teaching and research.”4 I förordet till den svenska utgåvan av Humboldts skrift – som blev översatt först 2011 – skriver professor Kjell Jonsson att Humboldts gärning som statsman allt mer fallit i glömska och att han främst förknippas med grundandet av det första moderna universitetet. Hans nyhumanistiska universitetsidé omfattade ”(…) undervisningens förening med forskning, lärarnas oberoende och studenternas fria studieval´, som det står i Nationalencyklopedin(NE).”5 Humboldts idé om modernisering och nytt forskningstänk spred sig snabbt över Europa under 1800-talet.6 På så sätt är han även föregångare till våra dagars synsätt på hur forskning och studier bör bedrivas. Inte minst har detta uppmärksammats och diskuterats i och med Bolognaprocessen under senare år. Inför 200-årsjubileet uppmärksammades han av olika universitet runt om i Europa med förnyad entusiasm.


Fig 1. 1850-tal

Universitetet – uppgång

Humboldt Universitet instiftades i det gamla prinspalatset vilket är huvudbyggnad än idag.  ”The Prussian king, Friedrich Wilhelm III, donated the first building to the University – the former Palace of Prince Heinrich of Prussia. Built from 1748 to 1766 on the splendid boulevard Unter den Linden, and it saw major extension work from 1913 to 1920.”7 Vid grundandet omnämndes universitetet som “Alma Mater Berolinensis” eller Berliner universität. Det är därmed en byggnadsrepresentant för den första av fem tidsperioder, Brian Ladd identifierat som påfallande om man studerar monument i Berlin, och i viss mån även för de övriga.8

Första terminen fanns det 256 inskrivna studenter och 52 anställda universitetslärare9 Institutionen bytte namn senare och hette i Svensk uppslagsbok från 1930 Friedrich-Wilhelmsuniversitetet, (vilket det hette 1828-1946) och omnämns vid denna tid som det största i Tyskland med 600 lärare och 10 000 studenter i 80 anslutna vetenskapliga institutioner10.


Fig 2. Sekelskifte:

En av de första rektorerna vid Humbodt var Fichte som såg till att knyta tidens skarpaste hjärnor till institutionen, bland annat Hegel kom dit och undervisade. Hans skrivbord ska stå kvar i ett av rummen på den filosofiska fakulteten. “En liten lapp bakom skrivbordet säger att Hegel vid just detta skrivbord skrev sinPhilosophie der Weltgeschichte, sin filosofi över världshistoriens gång från öst till väst. Det kan man tro om man så vill.”11 skriver Forsgård i sin bok. En lysande tid av förkovring och forskning gick nu universitetet till mötes och under kommande perioder skulle många kända namn inlemmas, däribland Leopold von Ranke och bröderna Grimm. Albert Einstein anslöt också några decennier senare men avvek liksom många andra studenter och professorer då Hitler kom till makten och en mörkare tid var i antågande.

1930-45 – fallet

Går man över den trafikerade gatan hamnar man på Opernplatz , nu Bebelplatz vid universitetsbiblioteket och den juridiska fakulteten. En grå morgon kan den fantasifulle nästan känna röklukt och höra knaster från den bokbränning av 20 000 böcker som skedde här den 10 maj 1933. Initiativet kom från det Nationalsocialistiska tyska studentförbundet för att visa sitt hat mot allt som inte passade in i deras snäva värld. På internet hittar jag ett fotografi från händelsen då böcker av Einstein, Brecht, Marx, Freud och 400 andra författares verk gick upp i rök i den “reningsprocess” som skedde några månader efter det att Hitler tagit över styret av Tyskland. En reningsprocess där 280 lärare avskedades och en tid av diametralt motsatt syn på kunskap mot tidigare inleddes.


Fig 3


På bilden ses propagandaministern Joseph Goebbels övervaka bokbålet. Berthold Brecht framhåller emellertid en annan effekt av händelsen i sin dikt “Die brucherverbrennung” då han beskriver författarkollegan Oskar Maria Grafs besvikelse över att hennes böcker undslapp bålet. “Har inte också alltid jag, frågar sig Graf förtvivlat i Brechts dikt, berättat sanningen i mina böcker?”13 . Från studenthåll fanns ett fåtal motståndsrörelser varav en kom att kallas Vita rosen i Hamburg. Anhängarna där fick betala ett högre pris än att se sina alster brännas då de blev dömda till döden för högförräderi några år senare. Nazitidens spår är djupa och tenderar överskugga mycket annat av intressant värde i vår tid. Överallt finns minnesplaketter och minnesmärken över händelser i Berlin och så även vid universitetet. Kanske har det också kommit att bli så för att vi vill hitta den identitet som passar oss européer bäst samtidigt som vi vill ta avstånd från hur vi inte vill bli definierade i framtiden? Minnen efter traumatiska och svarta perioder behöver tid av bearbetning i det tysta innan de kan formuleras till de efterlevande. Samtidigt är vi fast förbundna med det som har varit, det kan inte upphöra från att ha varit. Vissa delar vill man inte minnas alls från denna tid eftersom de förknippas med något vi inte vill ska ha existerat. Därför är det främst ett selektivt urval som bearbetas i nyare monument. Andra delar som måhända borde vara intressanta att bevara rent historiskt för en framtida avlägsen mänsklighet bereds inte utrymme då de fortfarande innehåller starka drag av en icke önskad politik. Det är inte nytt för vår tid att vilja visa avsky genom att förstöra en oönskad eras monument, snarare blir det en rituell symbolhandling av terapeutiskt slag gentemot det förtryck det tidigare stått för.14 Humboldts universitet skulle förmodligen haft mindre pondus idag om det grundats av Hitler i samband med bokbålet.

Fig 4a och 4b




Bundesarchiv_Bild_183-S92636,_Berlin,_Humboldt-Universität,_Hauptgebäude,_Ruine (1)

Efter kriget – omorientering

Universitetetet hölls stängt under andra världskriget. Under bombraiderna mot Berlin sargades byggnaderna svårt. Efter kriget kom institutionen att hamna på östsidan och så småningom innanför berlinmuren 1961-1989. Det öppnade igen 1946 i det då ockuperade Berlin. Alla med anknytning till nazisterna avskedades från universitetet. Till den obligatoriska undervisningen hörde nu ideologiska föreläsningar av kommunistpartiet SED, för att sovjetanpassa medborgarna. 1948 bidrog inre ideologiska stridigheter till splittring och studentuppror, en falang av universitetslärare gav sig av för att starta Freie Universität Berlin i den amerikanska zonen av staden. Året därpå fick den gamla institutionen sitt nuvarande namn, Humboldt-universität zu Berlin. I Bra Böckers lexikon från 1973 hade elevantalet ökat till 14 000 .15 Under DDR-perioden på 1970-80 talen var universitetet DDR:s största bildningsinstans med internationellt utbyte. På universitetets hemsida beskrivs perioden som nydanande eller snarare kanske som orienterande tillbaka till ursprungsidén med bildning, trots dess avskärmande från väst. ” the university reforms of 1950/51 and 1967/68 caused the university to develop in a way that ran counter to its former academic traditions and changed the contents taught, the study procedures and research conditions in obedience to the ruling ideology. Nevertheless, it was still possible in some areas to restore international contacts and create world-wide cooperation. The long-standing and intensive research and exchange links with the universities in Eastern Europe and particularly in the former Soviet Union are worth special mentioning; many of these links are without parallel in Germany.”16 Denna period bearbetas på ett annat sätt då även en viss sentimentalitet I form av vurmande för gamla medaljer, der Ampelmann och må-bra-filmer i form av ”Goodbye Lenin” märks av allt mer.


Fig 6. 1964

Nutid och globalisering – cirkeln sluts

Efter murens fall var det så dags för nyorientering igen och från och med 1990 är staten dvs  det återförenade Tyskland huvudman för instansen. 2012 blev det utsett till elituniversitet då många kända tänkare och ett stort antal nobelpristagare passerat genom skolans korridorer på sin väg mot storverk. Åren 2004-05 hade universitetet 38 272 studenter knutna till sina kurser. Huvudmålen är åter att arbeta efter den idéstruktur Humboldt en gång hade.17


Fig 7. Senare datum×304.jpg


I vår tid har monumenten förändrat karaktär om man jämför med 1800-talets nationalistiska bakgrundstanke med sin statyiver. Tidigare förknippades det hela med ära, makt och seger och en slags uppvisning för både de egna men också för andra nationer. I vår tid tenderar nya monument snarare bearbeta förlorarnas öden dvs priset för 1800-talsstatyns framgång om man förenklar resonemanget. Kanske har det att göra med att fler i våra dagar kan komma till tals? Under 1960-talet kom nya grupper till universiteten, grupper som tidigare inte beretts tillträde på grund av bakgrund eller ekonomi. Dessa ville snarare lyfta fram sin historia än de stora männens. Social historia liksom kollektivens blev snabbt heta ämnen, vilket i våra dagar har förvandlats till att omfatta allt. På något sätt har behovet av mer eller mindre självutnämnda hjältar bleknat och under senare år har snarare en mörkare syn på mänskligheten genomsyrat behovet att skapa monument. Från ideologiskt hyllande till kollektivt bearbetande i ”eftertänksamhetens kranka blekhet”. Kanske vill vi även göra oss själva odödliga genom att vidarebefordra våra monument?

Kanske kan man se en form av Hegels dialektiska idé inom monumentens historik? Då fler fått legitimitet att uttala sig om sin historia återfinns kanske också ett behov av kollektiv terapi över en sorg som inte fick sörjas då den borde? Kanske skulle man kunna kalla det vi ser i nyare monument för en form av kollektiv ”humanalism” (mitt ord)? Vilket då skulle innebära en mänsklighetens nationalism men där staten bytts ut mot en hyllning till mänskokollektivet. Urbana miljöer lämpar sig bäst för den nyaste formen av monument men samtidigt är inte den specifika nationstillhörigheten av betydelse, enligt mitt sätt att se, eftersom historien som bearbetas tillhör så många fler inom ett mycket större område. Snarare kan man se det som att statsgränserna i detta sammanhang töjts ut och kan omfatta områden stora som kontinenter då det handlar om så mycket större skeenden och där annat än gränser och ägande är prioriterat. Snarare handlar det om ett själsligt stadium som ska bearbetas, vilket kan se liknande ut oavsett nationstillhörighet och tidsrum. Ibland är holocaustmonument skapade av människor som själva aldrig upplevt denna period vilket förmodligen påverkar dess form, vilket också Young skriver i sin undersökning av dessa formers monument.18

Det betyder också att monument, minnesmärken och byggnader kan ses på olika sätt beroende på om det är via ett mänskligt kollektivs vedermödor eller en byggnad vi studerar historien. En byggnad kan lösgöras från många av de förbehåll som måste beaktas då man studerar människans upplevelse av en historisk epok. På så sätt kanske det också betyder att om universitetet varit ett människoöde skulle det kanske också inneburit en annan slutsats, då det skulle kräva en dimension av psykologi i och med detta?

Konstnären Christo är utnämnd till hedersdoktor vid HU. 1991 svepte han in riksdagshuset i Berlin på ett sätt man gör med föremål som ska bevaras till kommande generationer i museernas arkiv. I Christos fall har det kommit att bli så mycket större ”föremål” som omsorgsfullt paketeras in. Efter att ha studerat historiken runt Humboldtuniversitetet är jag benägen att vilja göra samma sak med denna instans. Även ett universitet kan med andra ord bli ett monument.


Fig 8.


Bra böckers lexikon, Höganäs 1973, Band 2, Uppslagsord: Berlin

Brian Ladd, The Ghosts of Berlin: Confronting German History in the UrbanLandscape. Chicago and

London: University of Chicago Press, 1997. ix + 271 pp., ISBN 978-0-226-46761-0.

Fareld, Victoria, Idehistorisk föreläsning från 16/11 2011, (15/2 2013)

Forsgård, Nils Erik, 10115, Berlin, Nedslag i en Europeisk huvudstad, Söderströms-Atlantis, RT-PRINT Oy, Pieksämäki, 2005.

Humbuldt-Univeritetät zu Berlins hemsida (15/2 2013):

Humboldt von, Wilhelm Om gränserna för statens verksamhet,  Originaltitel: Ideen zu einem Versuch, die Grenzen der Wirsamkeit des Staats zu bestimmen, den skrevs 1792 men gavs ut första gången i Tyskland 1851, översättare Erik Carlquist, Förord av Kjell Jonsson, Bokförlaget hiström- Text och Kultur, Umeå 2011.

Koselleck, Reinhart, “War Memorials: Identity Formations of the Survivors”, i The practice of conceptual history: Timing history, spacing concepts, Stanford University Press, Stanford, Calif, 2002.

Svensk Uppslagsbok, (1930) Baltiska förlaget, Köpenhamn 1930, band 3, Uppslagsord: Berlin, s. 730

Young, James Edward, The texture of memory: Holocaust memorials and meaning, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1993

Östling, Johan “Humboldts testament”

(2013- 02 -09)

Foton (15/2 2013):×304.jpg

1 Koselleck, Reinhart, “War Memorials: Identity Formations of the Survivors”, i The practice of conceptual history: Timing history, spacing concepts, Stanford University Press, Stanford, Calif., (2002), s.287

2 Forsgård, Nils Erik, 10115 Berlin, (2005), s. 160f

3 Svensk Uppslagsbok, (1932), band 13, Uppslagsord: Humboldt, s. 438


5 Ur Kjell Jonssons (professor i idéhistoria) förord till den svenska översättningen från 2011 av Humboldt, Wilhelm von, Om gränserna för statens verksamhet,  Originaltitel: Ideen zu einem Versuch, die Grenzen der Wirsamkeit des Staats zu bestimmen,  (1851), s. 7ff

6 Forsgård, Nils Erik, 10115 Berlin, (2005), s. 160


8 Brian Ladd, The Ghosts of Berlin: Confronting German History in the UrbanLandscape. Chicago and

London: University of Chicago Press, 1997. ix + 271 pp., ISBN 978-0-226-46761-0.


10 Svensk Uppslagsbok, (1930) Baltiska förlaget, Köpenhamn 1930, band 3, Uppslagsord: Berlin, s. 730

11 Forsgård, Nils Erik, 10115 Berlin, (2005), s. 159

12 Fif 1

13 Forsgård, Nils Erik, 10115 Berlin, (2005), s. 175

14 Young, James Edward, The texture of memory: Holocaust memorials and meaning, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1993, s.xf (förordet)

Även den svenska idehistorikern Victoria Fareld använder samma resonemang I en föreläsning som finns presenterad på internet.

15 Bra böckers lexikon, Höganäs 1973, Band 2, Uppslagsord: Berlin, s. 272



18 Young, James Edward, The texture of memory: Holocaust memorials and meaning, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1993, s. 28

“The magic of ruins” at Revaler strasse 99, Friederichshain, Berlin

By: Annie Olsson, ForHim, Umeå University

“The magic of ruins persist. A near mystical fascination with sites, seemingly charged with the aura of past events, as if the molecules of the site still vibrated with the memory of their history”.# Those are the words of James E. Young in his exposé of holocaust memorials. A ruin is a trace of previous lives and deaths, of a world once existing but now gone. All we see is the scaffolding, the only remnants of the humans that once used to live there. A ruin reminds us of death in that the people building it are all gone and their lives forgotten. But it is also a reminder of life, eternal, ever changing life, in that it constantly changes. Weeds grow over the old marble floor, the wind and cold breaks down the walls and even new people might come there, leaving traces of their own, modern life. It is therefore still a place where life exists, only in different forms than originally intended.

A ruin is a place or a building left to its own fate, not being tended by anyone. The memories awoken by it are unplanned and spontaneous. It differs from a monument or memorial site in that they are created by a state or organization with the purpose to “shape memories as they seem fit, memory that best serves a national interest”.# When creating a monument you have a specific purpose, an aim to achieve, an emotion to awake or something specific to remember.

During the end of the 20th century researchers have taken on what has been called “the spatial turn” which means that they have been starting to look more carefully into the socially and politically constructed meaning of space.# To leave a space untended is a political choice that will have serious impact on the history and meaning of it. It will also have an impact on its social function. Spaces left untended in a large city will not be left alone. People will inhabit it in different ways and they will construct their own social meaning.

Bodenhamer claims that “All spaces contain embedded stories based on what has happened there” and the history of a certain place therefore is given an important role.# In some places this is more obvious than in others. In Berlin many of the old, half demolished buildings are left as they are. These ruins often live side by side with newly built or restored buildings, exposing a contrast between old and new, sometimes exposing different layers of history in the very same block of houses. Here the different layers live side by side, sometimes overlapping each other, sometimes covering each other in a way unusual for European capitals. I claim that this is a special feature for Berlin and in this assignment I am going to give you an example of a place in which the different layers are particularly obvious, a site which triggers many layers of our memory in the same way as a memorial or monument. The place that I am going to introduce to you is Revaler strasse 99, Friederichshain, in the former East Berlin.

This site is not a monument or a memorial, in fact it is an old factory site and it represents a cross section of some of the most important features of German history. It is therefore quite obvious that it has its own “embedded story” that is still there, printed in the buildings. It all starts in October 1st,  1867, when a company named “Königlich-Preußische Eisenbahnhauptwerkstatt Berlin II” started its business in the area, originally employing about 600 workers who built and mended train wagons intended for the transportation of people and goods. By 1882 the number of employees had increased to 1200.#  This is happening about at the time when Prussia, (later Germany) is about to catch up with Great Britain and the other European countries when it came to the level of industrialization and the growth of this company is an indication of its success.

World War one is of course another of the most important events in German history. The company is now working with restoring cars to be able to use in the war. In 1918 the workshops changes its name to ”Reichsbahnausbesserungswerk“ (RAW).

Of course even World War 2 sets its mark on the RAW. Many of its male employees have been sent to the front to fight and in time their places are being filled by forced labor from some of the occupied countries. In 1944 the RAW is heavily bombed and some 80% of the workshops are destroyed. After the German surrender the Soviets take over and some 1300-1400 people are soon employed at the RAW again. During the DDR-period the workshops are in use in a smaller scale. In fact it doesn’t close down until 1994, only to open again in 1995 but now with no more than 100 employees. During all this time the ruins of the old bombed workshops are still unrestored. This was a common practice in most of East Berlin where many of the bombed sites in the middle of town were just left there as a remembrance for the newly conquered Germans “that in fact the East Germans were now a subjugated nation”.# One of the most obvious examples of this is the old Gestapo headquarters that was bombed during the war and the occupying soviets just left to its own fate. In 1949 it was finally dynamited away and the ground was just made flat. Thereafter the place was left barren until the unification of Germany when the “Topography of terror” was raised in the former “Gestapo gelände”.# The reason why the bombed buildings were actually left this way in parts of east Berlin was, as I said, partly to remind the East Germans of their being subjugated, but also to send them a warning of might happen if they try something similar again.#

The RAW is far from a traditional memorial site, consciously constructed to shape our memories of the past. Rather it is more like the Gestapo gelände, only with the difference that it was never fully abandoned and never dynamited. Though the roofs of the old workshops were not restored and as the pictures show, are still not restored to this day. From the beginning you can imagine that the Soviet occupation force did it for the reasons that I already mentioned, as a statement of power, saying that this can happen again if you do not behave. But later – what happens to an abandoned place, in the middle of a large city? Well it will not be abandoned for long. People start filling it with their personal meaning and memories. And this is what happened in this place too. When the workshop closed down, artists and atrisans moved in, and now, without removing the old ruins, new companies and leisure companies are moving in. Today the area is used by an association called RAW Temple Association that runs intercultural projects here.# You can also take part in a number of cultural or sports activities here. There is wall climbing and also a skateboard hall and, not least, a vivid nightlife with lots of bars and nightclubs. The graffiti art is also very strong and many monumental graffiti-paintings are exposed on the old walls of the workshops. During the summer the area has held flee-markets but they have all been abandoned due to a conflict with the landowner and the landlord. #

In the very buildings at Revalerstrasse you see the traces of history. You can still see the workshops, built in the late 19th century, you can see the damage done to them during the bombings of World War 2, you can see the lack of restoration during the DRR-era and you can see the modern traces of graffiti, posters and advertisement for the new activities and the clubbing that is going on in the area. It is all there, not replacing – but overlapping each other. This is a place that is partly left to itself and partly being used, but the ruins of the old is still there. During this entire period this has, to a larger or smaller degree been a workshop, so there is both continuity and change, ruins and modernity.

Germany has a tradition of what Young calls “counter monuments”, monuments whose job is to make people react and bring out their own memories and emotions, rather than to just react in the way promoted by the state.# These monuments are also created, for a special purpose and to reflect certain value and, with the words of Young: are there to do the memory-work for us. The Revalerstrasse on the other hand is more of a spontaneous, natural monument, a place where people create their own memories. Someone who worked in the workshops during the 1940s might have taken her grandchildren to the flee-market or a concert during 2008, looking at the ruins at the same time as having a new experience of a living part of the city.

So, what is the future of this area? Well, as Berlin is rapidly starting to transform in the same way as other European cities, it is likely that the space will be exploited. The prices for living are likely to rise, more people will move into the city and the pressure for more places to live is most likely to be heavier. Large spaces like this, in the middle of the central city will be attractive building sites and instead of costing money, as they do when the ruins are still standing, they are likely to generate money when selling apartments. So what we see in Berlin today, with its ruins side by side with and sometimes overlapping the modern, is not likely to remain.# In Sweden this happened a long time ago. In Stockholm everything old was either swept away or renovated during the modernizing frenzy of the 1960´s and 1970´s, leaving its inhabitants with a shining new city, without ruins and, to some extent – without memory. The political decisions that made this possible were highly criticized at the time and history has condemned it, if possible, even harder. So what we see in Berlin today, with its ruins side by side with and sometimes overlapping the modern, is not likely to remain.# This could therefore be a very special situation in time, when things are stopping, preparing itself for the great changes to come; when the third millennium with its new economies and new digital society will wipe out the old and create a strange new world, of which we know nothing at the moment. Or, maybe Berlin will continue to be a city where ruins and modernity can live side by side. Only time can tell. In the mean time I can do nothing but agree with Young in that “the magic of ruins persist” and that you don´t really know you miss it until you actually face one.


Annie Olsson




Maria Deldén

…is an “essential part of Berlin’s cultural history and holds its place on the “mental map” of the Berliners and their visitors alike.”[1]

The year is 1983. I am sitting next to Dietmar and we are enjoying eating ice-cream one sunny day in May.  Alexanderplatz is full of life. We are looking at the people passing by and wishing things would be easier. We live at each side of the wall, I in Sweden and he in East Berlin. I can visit him, he can not visit me. What now is history to us, back then was lived reality.

Alexanderplatz, one of many open spaces in Berlin and one of all open spaces in cities around the world. Like glades in a forest we humans construct squares in our cities, open places that can bring in the light, function as meeting places and let us lift our glaze from the more narrow streets. The square is often described by its activities. One example is ”Från Alexanderplatz till Bahnhof Zoo”[2] by Ulla and Olof Siljeholm were different open places are implicitly identified by the activities taking place there. So is Pariser Platz with its Brandenburger Tor described as a place were leaders and soldiers have passed through during varying times in history using the symbolic power of the tower. The open space serves to contain different types of crowds.  Parizer Platz also includes, among other things, cultural activities such as cafés, restaurants, museum, shops and embassies. The buildings surrounding a square are of importance too, and the architecture talks to us. As the buildings were constructed the policymakers wanted to signal something to the inhabitants, to the visitors and to other policymakers as well as to the future.

So what memories carry Alexanderplatz? What signs of human life, joy and struggle? What do the activities tell us and what can we learn from monuments and the buildings surrounding the site?

The zeitgeist of each time has left its traces on it in very tangible ways and turned the square into a place of bustling economic life, upturn and change par excellence.[3]

During the Middle Age Alexanderplatz served as a cattle market and during the first half of the 19th century it hosted military parades and soldier barracks. The place got its name from tsar Alexander I when he visited Berlin in 1805 during the Napoleon wars.[4] During the 18th century the site became an integrated urban square in Berlin. Some of the buildings at that time were the Königsstädtisches Theater, the Police Headquarters, Berlin’s central market hall and Grand Hotel. In this assignment I will have the focus on Alexanderplatz’ history during the 20th century and I will try to do it from the perspective of Berlin as a border city and its specific relationship to time. I am inspired by Janet Wards discussion of the nature and significance of borders.[5] She talks about a “trans-boundary movement” and tries in her study to do a trans-disciplinary study on the significance of boundaries in the history of Post War Berlin. Berlin’s border was an “artificially inserted political schism”.[6]Berlin as a border-city after the Second World War is a fact, and I will try to look at Alexanderplatz from this angle.

During the 1920th

Let us start in the 1920th. Germany was governed by the Weimar Republic[7]. Alfred Döblin gives us a portrait of Alexanderplatz in his novel Berlin Alexanderplatz.[8] In the 1920th the site was descried by Döblin as a place inhabited by marginalized people. We get to know Franz Biberkopf and the people around him and their life in the neighbourhood of Alexanderplatz. The site in this time was an important traffic square with Berlin’s largest underground and an intercity rail station with 23 tram lines and 9 bus lines. Consequently a lot of people passed Alexanderplatz during a day.[9] So it still is. Nowadays four hundred thousand people pass Alexanderplatz daily for different reasons.[10] Martin Wagner, the director of urban planning in the 1920th had great plans for Alexanderplatz, wanting it to be transformed from a small town square to a world city square. But his plans didn’t get fully realized. The buildings that were constructed were Alexanderhaus and the Berolinahaus in the years 1929-31. They were modern eight-storey steel-framed buildings – a revolutionary way of construction in those days. They are protected as Historic Monuments.[11]As I mentioned Alexanderplatz was a meatingpoint for many different people.  The development towards a rapidly growing metropolis continued in the 20th century with hotels, restaurants, cafés, theatres, cinemas, department stores (Tietz for example), Berlin central market hall and office blocks. The vast site was an integrated part of Berlin.

Photograph from

Alexanderplatz seemed to be a very interesting place during the 20th. The characteristics of the site are described with various words; lack of architectonic harmony, desolation, impermanence, instability, criminality, insurrection, traffic congestion, commerce, modernity, contradiction. Alexanderplatz during the 20th was very affected by the spirit of the time; the spirit of the Republic and of the modernization of urban environments. The people living, working and passing through there came from different social classes. Thieves and prostitutes lived next to the Police Head quarter. Modern restaurants next to the working class housing. In the narrow streets behind Alexanderplatz, in Scheuenenviertel, lived a jewish population coming from the eastern parts of Europe. These quarters do no longer exist but the few remaining buildings has been restored in due to the memory of the jews once living there and who disappeared during the Nazi regime and to the memory of the underworld people known from Alfred Döblin.[12] So we can see that this history is preserved by the people of the site. Alexanderplatz could be seen as a border site in the sense that it was balancing between the past and the future, and it was the juxtaposing of rich and poor, criminal and lay-abiding, the past and modernity.

During the 1960th

During the Second World War a lot of buildings around Alexanderplatz were destroyed and entering the Cold war the site became part of the Soviet hemisphere. The division of Berlin was completed in 1961 by the construction of the Wall. Alexanderplatz became an important site in the eastern part of the city and the GDR wanted to express this in the architecture of the site. One example: In 1961 to 1964 the Haus des Lehrers, a 12 storey building was constructed. The building was decorated with one of the largest wall paintings in Europe picturing social life in GDR. As a memorial of the 20th birthday of the GDR the Brunnen der Völkerfreundschaft – Fountain of Friendship amongst Peoples – was constructed. Walter Womackas fountain is made of copper, glass, enamel and ceramics. The water pours from pots in different heights and the sides are decorated in different colours. The name is interesting – friendship amongst people. The reconstruction of Alexanderplatz in the 60th can be seen in the light of the border – the Wall –  constructed in 1961 and the polarization between east and west.  So who are these people that are included in the hemisphere of friendship? Constructing a fountain with that symbolic in that particular time tells us how the regime of GDR wanted to be perceived.

Photograph from

The World Time Clock and the TV Tower was constructed at the same time, as some of the buildings that had been destroyed during the war. Alexanderplatz became a show mark for the new modern East Berlin. The TV Tower was built for urbanity and political reasons. East Berlin was a closed city towards the west but the symbolic of the fountain, the clock and the TV tower suggest something else.

James E. Young writes about Holocaust memorials and monuments and even if the fountain, the clock and the tower are not memorials or monuments in the definition of Young  (that they have a relationship to dead persons or important events in the history), Young’s thoughts can put some light on the matter. He writes:

The relationship between a state and its memorials is not one-sided, however. On the one hand, official agencies are in position to shape memory explicitly as they see fit, memory that best serves a national interest. On the other hand, once created, memorials take on lives of their own, often stubbornly resistant to the state’s original intentions. In some cases, memorials created in the image of a state’s ideals actually turn around to recast these ideals in the memorial’s own image. New generations visit memorials under new circumstances and invest them with new meanings. The result is an evolution in the memorial’s significance, generated in the new times and company in which it finds itself.[13]     

So the monuments created at Alexanderplatz can be seen from different angles. For the state it was important to emphasize friendship naming the fountain the Brunnen der Völkerfreundschaft. But how was the friendship coming to the relation between east and west? Almost every German had a relative living on the other side of the border. Dietmar, as I mentioned above and I were friends but he was not able to come and visit me or his relatives in the west. The fountain certainly could give different connotations to different people. And in the language of the people the fountain was given the name Nuttenbrosche, after its colours and the prostitution at the site. Surely this was not the symbolic meaning intended by its creators.

Alexanderplatz today

On October the 3rd 1990 Germany was reunited and Alexanderplatz again became part of whole Berlin. The east-west border disappeared physically but mentally the site continued being a part of East Berlin. During the 1990th the site stayed more or less the same but in 1999 the Federal State of Berlin and investors agreed on a plan of step wise remodelling of Alexanderplatz between 2006 and 2013.[14] The character of Alexanderplatz today still is the vast square with its high grey stone façade buildings surrounding it. Several buildings from the GDR epoch still stand there. The fountain, the clock and the TV tower give their touch to the site. And Alexanderplatz still counts as one of the most important traffic junction in Berlin.

Photograph from

”Memory never stands still” says Young.[15] How can a square be part of a collective memory? Because of the characteristics of the square defined by its activities and its architectures with its symbolism, it certainly plays a roll in shaping the identity of the city and its people. Alexanderplatz has changed during the years but somewhat reluctantly. Still there have been changes with relation to the society and the political situation. I have noticed that the policymakers have had some difficulties in modelling the site and that the character of the square has remained more or less the same during time. Even today Alexanderplatz is in focus for big plans and still considered a site that is not finally modelled. I can see that this has been one of its characteristics during the 20th century and maybe this tells us about the identity of Berlin and its people as part of a border city. The policymakers also have tried to create collective memories in Alexanderplatz, for example the Fountain of Friendship amongst Peoples and the World Clock. But what is also obvious is that people fill the site with their own connotations and memories and these are not necessarily those intended by the regime. Art plays an important roll in creating memories and Döblin’s Berlin Alexanderplatz also gives us memories of the site, as does the film by Fassbinder based on Döblin’s novel.

And what happened to Dietmar and to our friendship? Did I once again cross the border at Checkpoint Charlie to visit him? Dietmar decided in 1984 to leave East Germany through Czechoslovakia but got caught and had to spend ten month in a prison in East Berlin. After that he was exiled and came to Sweden to visit me. What we didn’t know back then was that a few years later the wall would fall and he could reunite with his family. No more physical borders. But the memories of the border-city stay alive.



Hake, Sabine. (2008). Topographe of Class. Modern Architecture and Mass Society in Weimar Berlin. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press.

Ladd, Brian. (1997). The Ghosts of Berlin. Chicago and London: ChicagoUniversity Press.

Siljeholm, Ulla & Olof. (2012). Från Alexanderplatz till Bahnhof Zoo. Wasatryckeriet AB.

Ward, Janet. (2011). Post-Wall Berlin. Borders, Space and Identity. Palgrave Macmillan.

Young, James, E. (1993). The texture of memory. Holocaust Memorials and meaning. New haven and London: Yale University Press.


(2013-02-08) (2013-02-15) (2013-02-15) (2013-02-16)

[2] Siljeholm, Ulla & Olof. (2012). Från Alexanderplatz till Bahnhof Zoo. Wasatryckeriet AB.

[5] Ward, Janet. (2011). Post-Wall Berlin. Borders, Space and Identity. Palgrave Macmillan.

[6] Ward, p 4.

[7] There were a strong movement of modern architecture – Neues Bauen – in the Weimar Republic that influenced the development of Berlin. (in Topographe of Class. Modern Architecture and Mass Society in Weimar Berlin by Sabine Hake, 2008)

[8] Döblin, Alfred. (1929). Berlin Alexanderplatz.

[9] Ward, p. 160.

[10] Siljeholm, p. 19.

[12] Ladd, Brian. (1997). The Ghosts of Berlin. Chicago and London: ChicagoUniversity Press. p. 114.

[13] Young, James, E. (1993). The texture of memory. Holocaust Memorials and meaning. New haven and London: Yale University Press. p. 3.

[15] Young. (1993). p. x.

The Reichstag and the layers of history

by Lena Nielsen

When I recently visited Berlin I was amazed of how apparent the past was. Everywhere I looked I was hit by the history of the city in many different ways. The many monuments, the buildings and the names of the streets that I had heard of since I was a child were so intense and foremost I was hit by the feelings in me that all of this aroused. By exposing all this, I believe the city of Berlin takes a huge responsibility for the actions that were taken during the war and makes the nation remember its barbarity (Young, pg. 22).  I touched the nameplates on the streets, the walls of the buildings and the monuments; I stood still and allowed myself to feel the history behind them. My emotions were at least to say mixed.

Reichtag1When I left Sweden I packed an article that I made a copy of a couple of years ago, “The Red Army Graffiti in the Reichstag. The rock-art in a contemporary European urban landscape”, published in “European landscapes of Rock-Art” by George Nash and Christopher Chippindale. I have always been interested in Rock Art, probably since I live in an area of Sweden were the Bronze Age Rock Art has been a made world heritage. When I found this article it just made me aware of how different acts can link us to history and vice versa.  However, the article was still unread when I left Sweden but I decided that the right time to read it was of course when I was in Berlin myself. During the trip we also got this assignment, choosing a place or a monument to write about. For me, the choice was obvious; the Red Army Graffiti! I headed off to the Reichstag to see the graffiti but realized that I wouldn´t have the time since we had a hectic schedule, but my interest for the Reichstag building itself had been awaked. When I got home I started reading and I realized that the graffiti was just one episode in the Reichstag’s long history and represented only one of its many layers.

The Reichstag is said to be one of Berlin´s most famous landmarks, situated near the south bank of the Spree River, at the northern end of the Ebertstrasse. The location is very central in the city with the Tiergarten Park directly to the west and the Brandenburger Tor to the south (Encyclopædia Britannica). After the war the building came to belong to the British zone and the former Berlin Wall was built just a few meters east of the building.

During the buildings history, four architectural competitions have been held (Foster, 2011, pg. 23) to achieve the best possible design, the first already in 18721 which was won by Ludwig Bohnstedt of Gothia even though this competition had been for naught since there were a disagreement due to the proposed site. There had also been opinions concerning the design that seemed to be too much of a compromise between Berlin neoclassicism and neo-Gothic style (Ladd, pg. 85). In 1882 another competition was held and this was won by Paul Wallot who had a tough time to meet all the demands. He was supposed to create a building that could be a symbol for Germany and of German parliamentarism which wasn´t easy since there was no consensus about what this really meant (Ladd, pg.  86). The building was however was finished in 1894 and just a few years later the trend in architecture changed to a more modern finish, leaving the Reichstag as one of the last monumental buildings in Berlin (Ladd,1997, pg. 86). The design seemed to suit most of the elected members of the Reichstag whom belonged to the upper strata of society that was in favor of designs that symbolised German imperial power (Foster, 2011, pg. 18). But this is not the full picture, Brian Ladd refers to Michael. S. Cullen who assert that the building just seem to be an expression of imperial unity but really present a different appearance on every facade, becoming an example of the division in the German Empire and he calls the Reichstag a symbol of its age and a reflection of both its  architecture and the politics (Ladd, 1997, pg. 86-87). The architecture has been called “Wilhelmine” because of the autocratic Emperor Wilhelm II who ruled from 1888-1918. Wilhelm himself didn´t actually like the building but this might have to do with his opinion about the Reichstag as an institution (Ladd, 1997, pg. 87).

After the war, when the monarchy collapsed the Reichstag building came to be a symbol of the nations´ hopes and fears for the future government. When the Weimar republic then established, the Reichstag became the center for real power for the first time but voices about the architecture was again raised and some architects turned against the impractical building (Ladd, 1997,  pg. 88). During the period of Nazi Germany, the Reichstag played a key role even though the links to the building were connected to both the Nazis and the anti-Nazis. Hitler was in favor of the architecture, and wanted the Reichstag to become a historical monument of the Nazi capital (Ladd, 1997, pg. 89).

Many different emotions and divided opinions are connected to this building. The history and the feelings seem to be incorporated layers of memories attached to the Reichstag, some more visible than others, some more conserved than others. For the Red Army, the Reichstag was a symbol for Hitler and Nazi Germany (Ladd, 1997, pg. 89). After the victory the soldiers covered the walls of the Reichstag with Cryllic writing, marking their victory, and some of these writings were discovered by the British architects in 1999. The Russians wanted their words to be read by others, they wanted to send a message in the same way modern graffiti writers do. Foster managed to save 5-10 percent of the writings and incorporated it in the interior walls (Baker, pg. 22). Frederick Baker sees the Reichstag as a place where politics, architecture and archaeology meet (Baker, pg. 20).

In 1960, yet another architectural competition was held which was won by Paul Baumgarten. This time the building needed to be rebuilt to prepare for an anticipated return of the German parliament (Foster & Abel, 2011, pg. 20-21). Work had already begun to make the building safe after the war (Foster, 2000, pg. 238). In 1961, the same year as the wall was built, the restoration of the Reichstag begun. When the Bundestag, 30 years later confirmed the Reichstag as its new home the latest competition was held, won by Norman Foster. Interesting with this architect is that he is from the UK, a former occupying country, which can be seen as reconciliation act from Germany (Foster & Abel, 2011, pg. 23). One of Fosters ideas was the new cupola which is both functional and symbolic, it supports the building with day light and has become a new public space and it also is a symbol of the vigour of the German democratic process (Foster, 2000, pg. 130, 160). Christos wrapping of the building (which in itself can be seen as a temporary monument) and the festival in 1995, marked the end of a divided era and functioned as a rit de passage. All kinds of feelings and messages can be interpreted in the action since the message wasn´t clear but it surely started a new chapter in German history (Ladd. 92-96).

I believe Norman Foster did a fantastic job, incorporating the past in the present and by mixing old and new. (Foster & Abel, 2011, pg. 7). He had an idea that the Reichstag should be a museum of its own history and wanted to expose all its layers (Baker, 2002, pg. 22). Instead of hiding the history of the Reichstag, Norman Foster has created an amazing mix where everything is shown and has come alive. The Reichstag truly is a museum in itself, where the different architectural trends are visible and the feelings the building has evoked has become part of the buildings soul, as layers of memories. Not only has the Reichstag been a witness to key events in Germany, each event has also reworked the urban landscape around it as one of war and then one of peace (Baker, 2002, pg. 23).

Going back to the mixed emotions I mentioned in the beginning of the text, I have come to understand how a monument or a building doesn´t only consist of different layers of history and memory but also of many different layers of emotions. The Reichstag is one of the most central buildings in German history (Foster & Abel, pg. 21), both as a participant and as a witness to many key events in Berlin (Baker, 2002, pg. 23) that all bring forth emotions. These emotions can of course be different, depending on underlying opinions. This seems to be common when it comes to monuments. The wall is an obvious example of different significance, depending on which side of it one lived (Young, 1993, pg. vii). James Young describes the monuments as living their own lives in public minds and since memory never stands still the layers of meaning connected to them can always change (Young, 1993, pg. ix-x). A memory can be national but it can also be individual and when a monument is built, an important task seem be to investigate what feelings it should evoke. A way of making a monument identifiable to many people can be to not make it too precise.

When reading “The texture of Memory”, it becomes clear to me how the layers of memory work in different directions, they work linear but also parallel. What I mean is that every period in the monuments lifetime is attached to different events that are connected to memories and during these periods the memories can be very individual and opposite from each other. If the monument is a monument of victory, someone has to be the loser, if the monument is a memorial, someone might very well be the killer, or a relative of the killer. Before this assignment my approach to monuments was somewhat unreflected. For me, they were just monuments standing there, sending out one message. The book made me realize how complicated this can be and I know that I will look at monuments with different eyes in the future, asking different questions but first of all – asking questions! To me Young’s book made me realize how monuments are having a life or their own and  as Young says “time drags old meaning into new contexts” (Young, 1993, pg. 47). I think of the Reichstag and I´d say that history made this building important and the people’s emotions over time has uphold this importance. As the Bundestags´ new home and with Norman Fosters design the history has been made visible and with the symbolism of the cupola they show that they want go in a different direction.  In my opinion, as after the First World War, the building is again a symbol for the hopes of the nation!


Baker, Frederick, “Red Army graffiti and the European landscapes of rock-art / edited by George Nash and Christopher Chippendale, London: Routledge, 2002

Foster, Norman, “Rebuilding the Reichstag”, 2000

Foster, Norman & Abel, Chris, “The Reichstag” 2011

Brian Ladd, The Ghosts of Berlin: Confronting German History in the Urban Landscape. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1997

Young, James Edward, The texture of memory: Holocaust memorials and meaning, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1993

Encyclopædia Britannica</p>

By Marcela (Own work) [GFDL 1.2 (, via Wikimedia Commons</p>

By Hewitt (Sergeant), No 5 Army Film & Photographic Unit  Post-Work: User:W.wolny [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons</p>

Bundesarchiv, B 145 Bild-P054499 / Weinrother, Carl / CC-BY-SA [CC-BY-SA-3.0-de (, via Wikimedia Commons</p>

By Mario Duhanic (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

1 According to Foster, the first competition was held in 1871 ( Foster, 2011)