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Cold War Cities

History, Culture and Memory


Edited By Katia Pizzi and Marjatta Hietala

The Cold War left indelible traces on the city, where polarities on the global stage crystallized and intersected with political and social dynamics predating and bypassing the Blocs. This collection taps into the rich fabric of memories, histories and cultural interactions of thirteen cities worldwide and the lived experience of urban communities during the long Cold War: activated and mobilized by atomic technologies, taking tourist photographs, attending commercial fairs, enjoying the cinema and the ballet, singing in choirs, paying respect in local cemeteries, visiting museums, and responding to town councils, unions and the local press. Literature, film, photography, the press, the monument, the cemetery, the factory, the ruin, the archive and the natural ecosystem are some of the key frameworks of cultural production elucidated here with a view to countering and exploding received myths about the Cold War.
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1 Commemorating the Berlin Wall: Forms and Spaces of Collective Memory after the Cold War


Remembering the German division

The main commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the building of the Berlin Wall started at 9 am on 13 August 2011 at the Memorial in Bernauerstrasse.1 Delegates of local and federal institutions and of political parties inaugurated the day of celebration by depositing wreaths along a (reconstructed) part of the Wall. The show organized by the local media-channel RBB started at 10 am.2 This alternated between various formats: talk shows with witnesses; documentary films of the event; a concert with a rock-star from the German Democratic Republic (GDR); a quiz-show for students on the GDR’s past, etc. Viewers were amused, they laughed and clapped their hands. When they were hungry, they went to the street and bought a hotdog or a pancake. The street, from the metropolitan station Nordbahnhof all the way along to the Mauerpark [Wall Park],3 was packed with visitors who walked, took breaks in cafeterias or chatted ← 17 | 18 → with the staff about memorials that commemorated Stasi victims,4 or the peaceful revolution of GDR citizens. The cemetery area and the meadows filled with the ruins of destroyed buildings were also crowded with people who read informative texts on the history of the place or, more relaxingly, sunbathed and played guitar (see Figures 1.1 and 1.2).5

Figure 1.1: Berlin, Bernauerstrasse, 14 August 2011. Photograph by Barbara Grüning. ← 18 | 19 →

Figure 1.2: Berlin, Bernauerstrasse, 14 August 2011. Photograph by Barbara Grüning....

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