Erich Mendelsohn in Berlin (German Edition)

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D eep in a desiccated, Utah desert, surrounded by mountains and fringed with scorched sage and saltbush, stand the surreal remains of German Village. Out of bounds, out of place, out of time and 90 miles from Salt Lake City, it is surely the most bizarre feature of Dugway Proving Ground, a test site created by the Allied military during the second world war to develop weapons of mass destruction for use against civilian targets in Germany and Japan.

All that survives of German Village is a single block of high-gabled, prewar Berlin working-class housing. It is accurate in every respect. And it should be: A Natural History, a study of the vulnerability of modern cities from New York to Tokyo to destruction by man and nature.

Mendelsohn's involvement in this deathly project, seemed, at first, bizarre. From the trenches of the great war he sent home visionary sketches of extraordinary streamlined, or expressionist, buildings.

In , during the great flu epidemic, he began work on the Einstein Tower, an astrophysics laboratory for the German mathematician and scientist, at Potsdam on the edge of Berlin. Over the next 10 or 12 years, Mendelsohn developed beautiful, sweeping, clean-lined, light-filled architecture - much of it in Berlin - that appeared to catch the spirit of the old German Enlightenment and represent it afresh in the uncertain days of the Weimar Republic.

Goodbye to Berlin

Outside Berlin, the streamlined department stores he built for Schocken at Nuremberg, Stuttgart and Chemnitz were hugely influential worldwide. Mendelsohn left for England when Hitler was voted into power in How can this Erich Mendelsohn be the architect of the dark and deathly German Village in the Utah desert?

Mendelsohn left no correspondence or notebooks relating to the Dugway Proving Ground project, where napalm and poison gases were developed and tested.

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He had been under gas attack in the trenches, yet it is hard not to think that his primary motivation in the desert of Utah was revenge on the Nazis. If this seems fair enough, what remains disturbing is the fact that this work was expressly designed to destroy working-class districts of Berlin, including Wedding and Pankow.

These had been communist strongholds, virulently anti-Hitler, before the Gestapo and SS all but destroyed opposition to the Nazi regime. A concerted Allied attack, by the British and US air force on working-class districts of German and Japanese cities had, however, become more or less official policy by Churchill wanted to gas them.

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Killed and mutilated in sufficient numbers, the German working class would, he argued, rise up against Hitler and bring a quick end to the war. Since part of the site was to be used to widen the street as part of Wagner's traffic improvements, the building had to be very tall. Mendelsohn submitted plans to the city for a storey building, stepped down at both ends.

The hoarding advertised the forthcoming department store and also carried paid advertising, which defrayed some of the landowners' costs. However, in August the investors decided to build elsewhere, and then were prevented from doing so by the onset of the Depression. Almost two years later, in August , they announced that they would instead build the storey Columbushaus on the Potsdamer Platz site. Mendelsohn designed the building for maximum rental income.

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The remaining floors in between were offices. The secret archive of the Leninist resistance organisation Neu Beginnen was in the building.

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  8. The building was damaged in the battle for Berlin in the closing days of the Second World War, but thanks to its modern steel frame construction, not destroyed. Located in Mitte , the building was in the Soviet sector of occupied Berlin. Wertheim used some space on the ground floor for sales and on upper floors for offices.

    Erich Mendelsohn

    In the East Berlin council, the Magistrat , seized the property; the sales space was taken over by the national retail organisation, HO Handelsorganisation , and the People's Police opened a police station in the building. The steel was salvaged and reused.

    In , East German authorities arrested Wolfram Hasch there for making political graffiti on the wall. Protesters were drawn to the site from all over the Federal Republic and in some cases from abroad; a radio station was established, and there was regular press coverage including foreign TV; [32] the number occupying the site grew to about , and after the West Berlin Senate , having failed to obtain help from either the British or the Russian occupying forces, tried first to fence off the area and then to have the police disperse them playing loud music at night among other tactics , they fortified the encampment and threw stones at the police.

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    Early in the morning of July 1, when the police moved in, the — people still occupying the site fled over the wall, in "the first mass flight over the wall from West to East". Since German reunification , Potsdamer Platz has been entirely redeveloped. In preparation for construction, which began in , an approximately year growth of woodland on the site was felled. The Columbushaus has often been identified with the Columbia-Haus occasionally spelt Columbiahaus on Columbiadamm in Tempelhof.

    It was abandoned in and fell empty. As soon as the Nazi Party came to power, like many similar premises in Berlin, the Columbia-Haus was made into a so-called "wild concentration camp"; spontaneously established, with inmates by September , [36] the Columbia-Haus concentration camp was later formalised as part of the Concentration Camps Inspectorate. The camp was closed in preparation for the extension of the airport in , and the building was demolished in to make way for the never completed new airport terminal on which work took place between and The site of the prison is now part of the terminal compound.

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    In post-war searches for the Columbia concentration camp this building was usually, and correctly, discarded as the location of the camp for its late date of construction. A memorial for the concentration camp was only erected in , diagonally opposite the actual former site, which was within the then still operating airport closed in However, the striking resemblance of the names caused many to identify the Columbia-Haus with Columbushaus, thus referring the history of the concentration camp to the former building by Erich Mendelsohn.

    The two are often confused, especially in older publications. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

    Erich Mendelsohn in Berlin (German Edition) Erich Mendelsohn in Berlin (German Edition)
    Erich Mendelsohn in Berlin (German Edition) Erich Mendelsohn in Berlin (German Edition)
    Erich Mendelsohn in Berlin (German Edition) Erich Mendelsohn in Berlin (German Edition)
    Erich Mendelsohn in Berlin (German Edition) Erich Mendelsohn in Berlin (German Edition)
    Erich Mendelsohn in Berlin (German Edition) Erich Mendelsohn in Berlin (German Edition)
    Erich Mendelsohn in Berlin (German Edition) Erich Mendelsohn in Berlin (German Edition)
    Erich Mendelsohn in Berlin (German Edition) Erich Mendelsohn in Berlin (German Edition)
    Erich Mendelsohn in Berlin (German Edition) Erich Mendelsohn in Berlin (German Edition)

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