Palast der Republik: controversial people’s palace
Unter den Linden is Berlin’s royal street. But not everybody was happy about this glamorous past of Unter den Linden’s palaces, like the Stadtschloss. When this palace was heavily hit by bombs during World War Two, GDR leader Walter Ulbricht grabbed the opportunity to get rid of this royal past. He gave orders to blow up the Stadtschloss.
Walter Ulbricht, the GDR leader, hated the Stadtschloss. He believed it represented what had been wrong with Germany: rich people take advantage of the poor. As a communist he believed all people were equal and he detested royalty. The remains of the Stadtschloss had to go. Ulbricht gave orders to blow up the building. The Palast der Republik (people’s palace) should replace it, Ulbricht stressed. It would be a Stadtschloss for every Berliner according to the communists.
At Palast der Republik one could find cultural exhibitions but it was especially known for housing the GDR Parliament. In 1976 Erich Honecker, the new leader of the GDR, finally opened the doors of Palast der Republik. The building was quite remarkable. It had copper colored windows and many, many lamps. Berliners called the building Erich’s Lampenlade (Erich’s Bulbshop). Or Palazzo di Prozzo (Show-off palace).
After the the Berlin Wall collapsed Palast der Republik a lot of Berliners felt very uncomfortable with the building. Mainly because it played such an important role in GDR politics. For example the many bombastic parades started at Palast der Republik.
Just before the Berlin Wall fell asbestos was found in the building. Palast der Republik had to be renovated and it would cost a lot of money. Money that the united Germany was not willing to pay. Why should they invest money in such a controversial building – a symbol of communism? It was the second time a palace was demolished on the very same spot.
In 2008 the Palast der Republik ceased to exist. All the bricks, copper colored glass and many lamps were gone. Berliners discussed what to do with the place. After all it was and still is one of Berlins most prominent spots in the city center. After a very long and heated discussion a controversial decision was made: the Stadtschloss should be rebuild.
The new Stadtschloss isn’t a exact replica of the old palace. The Staatliche Museen zu Berlin will exhibit their non-European collection here. The Humboldt University and City library will also use it for their book collections. The new Stadtschloss will also have an agora, a semi-open space for public performances. Take a look at the building progress. The new Stadtschloss will probably open in 2016.