Hi everyone! Welcome to the last post of my Biography of a City: Berlin series. In Blog 1, I mentioned that there was a long debate on whether or not the Palace of the Republic would be rebuilt. In Blog 2, I mentioned that asbestos was found inside the building which was problematic for those in defense of reconstruction. Once World War II came to an end, the Wall fell, and East and West Berlin unified again. The once split city had to decide how to move forward which was not always easy due to differing opinions. Today, I want to share more details about the opposing arguments in regards to the Palace of the Republic.
Those who were in favor of demolishing the Palace argued that it signified the hardships experienced during the split of East and West Berlin from 1961-1989. This group felt that due to the recent history the structure would be better to be forgotten than rebuilt, rather than dwelling on it's long history under Prussian rule. The structure is located in the former socialist Berlin and housed the German Democratic Republic Parliament. Those who lived in the East were completely cut off from the West and experienced many hardships due to strict government rule. The government controlled media and even hired people to spy on their loved ones. No one could be trusted because a lot of people gave in to the pressure of being a spy out of fear from governmental prosecution.
Those who were in favor of rebuilding the Palace of the Republic felt it was important because of it's history during Prussian rule. This group argued that regardless of what it stood for during the split of Berlin, it was a Prussian building for much longer than it was under East Berlin rule, which was a more valuable long-term memory. The Prussian monarch ruled from 1525 until the German Revolution in 1918.
The Palace was rebuilt and demolished many times for different reasons such as not enough funding, asbestos, and difference of opinion. In 2006 it was ultimately decided that the structure would be rebuilt in honor of the Prussian Stadtschloss.
I feel that it is positive that after so much back and forth on the building it was decided to be rebuilt in honor of the former monarch. Although life was hard during the separation of Berlin, it is worth noting that the Prussian rule was standing much longer than the oppressive Wall. I understand that it may not represent the same thing for everyone, but ultimately these facts are worth noting and taking into consideration.
This situation reminds me of what happened when the People's Republic of China took over rule of China. The communist party rejected traditional views which included the elaborate palaces the former empire created. The party destroyed many of the structures, but later found new value to the traditional buildings and decided to recreate modern buildings that mimicked the traditional architecture.