Magazine article Newsweek International

Rebuilding the Past; Monuments Destroyed by War Are Rising Again

Magazine article Newsweek International

Rebuilding the Past; Monuments Destroyed by War Are Rising Again

Article excerpt

Byline: Stefan Theil

A 14-hectare site, just off Unter den Linden, Berlin's old imperial boulevard, has long been the city's most fought-over chunk of real estate. There, after 15 years of heated debate, demolition began last month on the Palace of the Republic, the empty 1970s-era home of communist East Germany's rubber-stamp "Parliament." Once upon a time, the plot was occupied by an even vaster edifice: the 1,200-room Stadtschloss, the 12th-century palace of Prussian kings and German kaisers, damaged in World War II and razed by the communists in 1950. Now, the Bundestag has decreed, a replica of the old imperial palace will be rebuilt on the same spot, with a historically accurate facade and a mostly modern interior.

Berlin is not alone in catching reconstruction fever. Projects to rebuild prominent landmarks lost to Allied bombs and postwar wrecking balls are underway in Frankfurt, Potsdam and a host of other German cities. Destroyed monuments, of course, have been reconstructed as long as there have been fires, earthquakes and war: in Moscow, one of the latest additions to the skyline is the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, a copy of a 19th-century original blown up during one of Joseph Stalin's anti-church purges. But in Germany, rebuilding seems to have turned into a national trend.

The retro wave got its biggest boost last October, when Dresden reconsecrated the Frauenkirche, one of Europe's most significant baroque landmarks until the 1945 Allied air raid that wiped out most of the city. …

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