German Video of the Week: East Berlin in 1988

As I’ve written before, I find old videos of cities absolutely fascinating. They are like little windows into a world that helped shape the modern versions of those same places. Those older cities left their mark on the spaces we know today, but they can also often feel very foreign. We’ll never have the chance to visit those places, because they only exist in another time.

This is all too clear in this video of Mitte in 1988. It was the year before the Berlin Wall came down, and many of the buildings and landmarks are still there today. I recognize the fountain in the centre of Alexanderplatz, the S-Bahn tracks of Alexanderplatz station, the World Clock, and the Plattenbau apartments that line many of the streets. If they aren’t still using parts of that Christmas market, they certainly tried very hard to replicate it. At the same time, so much is very different. Many of those buildings have received facelifts throughout the post-Wall years, and they have a very different look and feel. The monsterous shopping centres that clutter the square in Alexanderplatz are blissfully absent. Everyone looks like they stepped out of a period piece on the Cold War and the streets are lined with Trabis. I think I like the original retro look of the building that is now Galeria Kaufhof*, and I think they should have left it like that.

*Note: it was still like that when I moved here.

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