From Bonn to Berlin: German Politics in Transition

From Bonn to Berlin: German Politics in Transition

From Bonn to Berlin: German Politics in Transition

From Bonn to Berlin: German Politics in Transition

Synopsis

In 2002 the seat of the German government will relocate from Bonn to Berlin, completing the reunification process begun in 1990.

Excerpt

In the summer of 1995, when the conceptual artist Christo and his wife Jeanne-Claude covered the 101-year-old German Reichstag (Parliament) in Berlin with more than a million square feet of silver-colored fabric and transformed the building temporarily into a colossal gift-box, they presented Germans with one of the most spectacular outdoor projects of this sort and with a powerful metaphor for the country’s transition from West Germany’s Bonn Republic to reunited Germany’s Berlin Republic. Moreover, as one American observer put it, “If the architecture of the Reichstag represents a kind of Prussian hardness—Germany as it was—the wrapped version can almost be seen as an ideal symbol of the new Germany struggling to emerge from unification.”

Two years earlier, when the federal diet (Bundestag) had debated and narrowly approved the wrapping, many deputies had opposed the project as trivialization of the country’s perhaps most famous landmark. One deputy had warned that the wrapping would not bring people together but polarize them. But contrary to such strong reservations millions of joyful East and West Germans viewed and perhaps understood the symbolic meaning of the wrapped landmark. the veiling and unveiling of the monumental building signified the country’s enduring and changing features: Just as the Reichstag’s foundations, bearing walls, and facades reemerged unchanged and strong when Christo’s gift-wrapping was taken off, the Bonn Republic’s democratic roots, solid structures.

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