For today's blog post, I will be focusing on the danger of asbestos and the way it relates to the short story, The Heart of the Republic. Blog 1 introduced Fabian's father who led construction at the Palace of the Republic. Fabian shares that his father became ill after several years of construction at the former Prussian Palace. He miraculously heals from his ailments and long hospital stay, only to pass away mysteriously shortly after.
The Palace of the Republic wore several hats throughout the years and was left alone mid construction while the government and people debated over what would be the most appropriate purpose of the building after so many political transitions. Some felt it should be demolished and some felt it should be restored due to its elongated history. Those in favor of the demolition argued that asbestos was found within the building, whereas those in favor of its restoration valued the rich history the structure attained. In addition, there was some doubt that there was indeed asbestos in the building and speculation that it was an excuse to demolish the Palace of the Republic once Berlin reunified.
Asbestos is a mineral that has a long history of usage that dates back 4,000-4,500 years to ancient civilizations and was known to be fire-proof. The mineral gained popularity again during the 19th century Industrialization period in places like Canada, Italy, and Germany. It was considered a valuable material because it was multi-functional and aided in the efficiency and longevity of construction. By the early 1900's, doctors began to notice an increase of deaths related to lung disease in mining towns. By 1990, asbestos was widely known to be an unhealthy building material and was fazed out in most countries that once utilized it as a valuable tool.
Although there was some speculation that the claim of asbestos contamination within the building, to some it was of great concern because of the recent findings in the decades before. The building wound up being reconstructed and re-purposed, however at the time it was thought to be a legitimate concern by many. What are your thoughts on this German conspiracy theory?!