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Interesting Art Find in Berlin

On my most recent trip to Berlin, I ran across an interesting art installation in the Magdalenenstraße U station. It consists of 20 murals created by East Berlin/DDR artist Wolfgang Frankenstein and is titled "Geschichte in 20 Bildern" (History in 20 Pictures). The murals were placed on the walls on either side of the station's platforms by the DDR government in 1986 as part of preparations for the celebration of Berlin's 750th birthday. While the quality of the expressionist murals is subjective, it's pretty interesting to see what a DDR artist envisions as the big 20 moments in history (which, of course, is limited to the struggle of the proletariat). Titles of murals are only in German, so a little knowledge of German (or a translation/dictionary app) is helpful.

I found the installation only because I noticed a work by Frankenstein in the conference room of the old Stasi Headquarters (now the Stasi Museum) that portrayed East German soldiers building the Berlin Wall while other soldiers smiled and played with East German children. Happily, there was some information on the artist in an electronic display that also mentioned the art installation, which happens to be in the U station that is closest to the Stasi Museum.

It's "art in situ," as Rick calls it -- art in the location where it was meant to be consumed. For me, it was a great find!

Posted by
12400 posts

Thanks for posting. I would have been interested in seeing what "they" viewed as salient events in history. True about the 750th anniversary of Berlin in 1987.

In July of 1987 I went back to Europe and Germany, and, obviously, to (west) Berlin, flew in from Hannover-Langenhagen, stayed altogether a week at the Pension on Ku'damm where I had been in 1971, and found to my pleasant surprise I was in Berlin for this momentous 750th event...great time to be there.

Also, while in Berlin, I went over to East Berlin for the first time not as part of a tour but this time solo through Bahnhof Friedrichstrasse, where you did the mandatory minimum exchange to get your one day visa before stepping into Ostberlin. It was the showcase for the DDR. It was the first time I saw on foot the Brandenburg Gate from the eastern side.

Posted by
2647 posts

CWSocial... Thanks for the link!

Fred... So you went through the Tränenpalast when it was operational? That's pretty cool. Was is stressful or no big deal?

Posted by
12400 posts

@ Dave...In East Berlin in 1987 I entered through Bahnhof Friedrichstrasse, don't recall how I got there by which route. Going through Border Control was super crowded, only signs posted were in German and likewise dealing with them (that was no problem), dealing with DDR red tape included that one to one mandatory currency exchange ie one DM for a east German Mark, which had to be spent in the DDR since the currency was absolutely worthless in any other country. It looked like Monopoly money. I didn't want to keep any of it, not even as a souvenir.

That "one day visa" you got for Ostberlin only permitted you to see the city, nowhere else, not Potsdam, etc. There were Vopo guards in uniform everywhere you saw. I always assumed that if I didn't see one around, they were looking at me somewhere so that I knew I was always being watched.

You had to leave by midnight, ie by the way you entered, Checkpoint Charlie or Bahnhof Friedrichstrasse. You most definitely had the feeling that the border control types did not exhibit too much sympathy if you couldn't speak German. You would be lucky if you didn't yelled at. I saw British and Norwegian tourists in line.; the people going over to the east were overwhelmingly German.

Two years later in August 1989 I went back to Berlin and over to the east too...again. That's when I saw Prenzlauer Berg.