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CONTROVERSIES OVER THE RECONSTRUCTION OF THE BERLIN CASTLE AS AN EXPRESSION OF THE DEBATE ON THE IDENTITY OF GERMANS (Kontrowersje wokól odbudowy zamku berlinskiego jako wyraz sporu o tozsamosc Niemców)

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The reunification of Germany in 1990 led to a resumption of the issue of reshaping the historical center of Berlin. Plans to reconstruct the city castle, also known under the name of Berlin city palace, as a former seat of the margraves and electors of Brandenburg gave rise to considerable controversies. The original castle, erected in the years 1443-1451 by order of the Prince Elector Frederick II was in the course of time redecorated and rebuilt a number of times. Towards the end of the Second World War it was seriously damaged. As a result of the division of Germany the complex of the castle together with the Museum Island was within the territory of the GDR. In 1950, at the request of Walter Ulbrich, the then leader of the communist SED, the remains of the castle were demolished and in 1973 the Palace of the Republic was built on the site. Following the reunification of Germany, a special body of experts: the Berlin Historical Center (Historische Mitte Berlin) was summoned with a task to work out concrete solutions for the development of the castle site and the architectonic shape of the new castle building as well as to prepare a statement of the purposes the building was to serve in the future. On 28 November 2008 the verdict of the jury was announced concerning the project of the castle's reconstruction and the winner was an Italian architect, Francesco Stella. In accordance with the recommendations of the Historische Mitte Berlin Committee, the new castle building for which the name of Humboldt-Forum was adopted, is to become a place of 'dialogue between cultures and science', serving museum and university purposes. The building is to be completed in 2013, and at the latest in 2015. The debate over the castle revealed differences in attitudes to tradition and past events as well as varying visions of the future in the German society. It is an expression of seeking their national identity by the Germans after the fall of the Berlin wall. It also exposed differences in aesthetic attitudes between supporters of tradition and advocates of innovative architecture.
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  • Maria Waginska-Marzec, Instytut Zachodni, Instytut Naukowo-Badawczy, ul. Mostowa 27, 61-854 Poznan, Poland
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