Thursday, July 1, 2010

Socialist + Communist + Capitalist

I have never been a knowledgeable expert on economical systems, but I have taken an interest in learning more through Berlin's economical struggles. After WWII, Germany was divided between the U.S., France, England, and the Soviet Union. The greatest opposition existed between the U.S. and S.U. because they both divided the city of Berlin into two halfs of different economical systems: capitalism vs. communism (DDR vs. SED). Although the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, the division from the west and east is still evident through their post-war developments. The west thrived on capitalism where their streets were full of shops and businesses while the east built monumental architecture to symbolized national power. These structures still exist today which creates a visually permanent division of the city. There are still struggles in their unificationhaving because people still identify themselves from being a east or west Berliner. After the wall fell, both sides had different views on how they would reclaim their capital city. Developing a unified economical and social system remained a constant struggle.

Throughout the city, the paved streets have been marked with a division of a large stoned path where the wall once existed. As we crossed these past from the east to the west, there was sometimes a distinctive difference. Just past the Brandenburg Gate was the wall that divided west from the east. There are several Soviet Union monuments found in the east to symbolize the German's responsibility for WWII and the Soviet soldiers lost in the war. The Soviets wanted the German's to recognize pain and suffering they have caused to which these monuments serve as a constant reminder. The monument we visited today was tributed towards the Soviet soldiers. As we entered into the garden where the monument was located, we were perpendicular to the main axis. The quarter turn or axial shift after the statue of a crying women revealed a profound statement. The main enterance was denoted through two large stone walls angled towards each other, created a broken archway. Beyond the broken archway lied 5,000 barried soldiers along the main axis. On either side of the tombs were large carved stones illustrating the story of the war, told in both Russian and German dialect. The most profound aspect about the memorial was the large statue standing at the end of the axis. There stood a statue of a Soviet soldier holding a child with his sword crossed in the victorious position while stomping on a swastika. The scale of the statue stood high above the treeeline providing a powerful statement towards the German shame. Altogether, the memorial was impressive through its elongated axis and precise symmetry. We also took a tour around the communist housing complex in the east that featured a tribute towards Karl Marx, the founder of communism. The complex was located around a central courtyard with a Soviet sculpture on two intersecting axis. The monumental architecture presented in the complexes was similar to the architectural style Hitler was fascinated with. The buildings were striped of ornamentation and designed around function, order, and symmetry. The main focus was to symbolize power. There was no distinction from one building to the next, everything looked the same. This monumental style of architecture revealed the social systems of communism where social classes ceased to exist. In the east there was an equal body of people with no rights and no individuality; every aspect of their lives was controlled by the government. The constant struggle in Berlin's economical systems is mainly revealed in the Alexander Platz socialist T.V. tower, the socialist urban planning, and the Kurfurstendam capitalist street illustrating supply and demand. The past 30 years of Berlin's history have been spent healing the opposing economical forces that divided the east from the west while defining a unified system to identify the city within.

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