Stalinallee Communist Boulevard

Berlin Best series


For 40 years and a month (1949-1989) after WWII, East Germany used their half of Berlin to showcase the communist system to the world, to encourage all other nations to adopt their political system and share in their success.  To boost this message, in the mid 1950s, from the rubble of destroyed central and by then communist east Berlin, a huge Soviet style boulevard appeared, running east to Mother Russia, with worker’s domestic palaces of the bright socialist bloc future.  They called it Stalinallee.

The rebuilding of Berlin in the 1950s had become a competition, both sides showcasing their potential through the facades of new buildings, symbolizing the dawning of a new age beyond the horrors of conflict.  In the first years under a unified rebuilding council, a new wave Bauhaus style; clean, simple, fast and cost effective was the chosen ‘face’.

By the early 50s tensions between each side had risen to such an extent that the DDR broke away from the unified rebuilding principle and set out on an independent path with their own distinctive style on the premiere site – a style that some dubbed ‘Stalinist Wedding Cake’.

The beginning of Stalinallee construction also witnessed embarrassing mass protests in the summer of 1953, initiating a brutal armed state crack down in East Germany, both events further damaging the DDR’s message of peaceful success.  This uprising led to an increase in the mass exodus of east Berliners to the west and the building of the Berlin Wall 8 years later.

In scale Stalinallee wasn’t that different from recent Nazi plans for fascist capital Germania.  In style, diluted neo classical, somewhat conservative.  But the speed Stalinallee shot out of the ground, and how well it was received by both sides of Berlin shocked the planners in the west.  Their reply was the 47 new buildings of the western showcase Hansa Quarter in the Tiergarten Park.

To stroll Stalinallee, once opened in 1957, meant a place to enjoy plays, films, food and drink from all over the communist world, passing memorials to Lenin and Stalin, even passing the screened off tower blocks belonging to the huge secret service HQ complex of the infamous Stasi hotlink