Books around Berlin XV

As the number of books increases, the contextual relationship with Berlin unwinds. The ones from now on have an oblique relationship with the city.

Hugues, P. (2017). Hannah’s dress: Berlin 1904-2014 (C. J. Delogu, Trans.). Polity Press.

“Hannah’s Dress tells the dizzying story of Berlin’s modern history. Curious to learn more about the city she has lived in for over twenty years, journalist Pascale Hugues investigates the lives of the men, women and children who have occupied her ordinary street during the course of the last century. We see the street being built in 1904 and the arrival of the first families of businessmen, lawyers and bankers. We feel the humiliation of defeat in 1918, the effects of economic crisis, and the rise of Hitler’s Nazi party. We tremble alongside the Jewish families, whose experience is so movingly captured in the story of two friends, Hannah and Susanne. When only Hannah is able to escape the horrors of deportation, the dress made for her by Susanne becomes a powerful reminder of all that was lost.

In 1945 the street is all but destroyed; the handful of residents left want to forget the past altogether and start afresh. When the Berlin Wall goes up, the street becomes part of West Berlin and assumes a rather suburban identity, a home for all kinds of petite bourgeoisie, insulated from the radical spirit of 1968. However, this quickly changes in the 1970s with the arrival of its most famous resident, superstar David Bowie. Today, the street is as tranquil and prosperous as in the early days, belying a century of eventful, tumultuous history.

This engrossing account of a single street, awarded the prestigious 2014 European Book Prize, sheds new light on the complex history not only of Berlin but of an entire continent across the twentieth century.” – from Wiley

Frank, S. (2017). Wall memorials and heritage: the heritage industry of Berlin’s Checkpoint Charlie (J. Spengler, Trans.). Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.

“Analysing the transformation of Berlin’s former Allied border control point, “Checkpoint Charlie,” into a global heritage industry, this volume provides an introduction to, and a theoretically informed structuring of, the interdisciplinary international heritage debate. This crucial case study demonstrates that an unregulated global heritage industry has developed in Berlin which capitalizes on the internationally very attractive – but locally still very painful – heritage of the Berlin Wall. Frank explores the conflicts that occur when private, commercial interests in interpreting and selling history to an international audience clash with traditional, institutionalized public forms of local and national heritage-making and commemorative practices, and with the victims’ perspectives.

Wall Memorials and Heritage illustrates existing approaches to heritage research and develops them in dialogue with Berlin’s traditions of conveying history, and the specific configuration of the heritage industry at “Checkpoint Charlie”. Productively integrating theory with empirical evidence, this innovative book enriches the international literature on heritage and its economic and political contexts.” – from Routledge

Gökberk, U. (2020). Excavating memory: Bilge Karasu’s Istanbul and Walter Benjamin’s Berlin. Academic Studies Press.

“This study moves the acclaimed Turkish fiction writer Bilge Karasu (1930 – 1995) into a new critical arena by examining his poetics of memory, as laid out in his narratives on Istanbul’s Beyoğlu, once a cosmopolitan neighborhood called Pera. Karasu established his fame in literary criticism as an experimental modernist, but while themes such as sexuality, gender, and oppression have received critical attention, an essential tenet of Karasu’s oeuvre, the evocation of ethno-cultural identity, has remained unexplored: Excavating Memory brings to light this dimension. Through his non-referential and ambiguous renderings of memory, Karasu gives in his Beyoğlu narratives unique expression to ethno-cultural difference in Turkish literature, and lets through his own repressed minority identity. By using Walter Benjamin’s autobiographical work as a heuristic premise for illuminating Karasu, Gökberk establishes an innovative intercultural framework, which brings into dialogue two representative writers of the twentieth-century over temporal and spatial distances. ” – from Academic Studies Press

Antill, P. D. (2005). Berlin 1945: End of the Thousand Year Reich. Osprey.

“Hitler’s Third Reich was on the brink of total ruin in mid-April 1945, and the Red Army was poised less than 60 miles to the east and ready to seize the German capital. Peter Antill describes the events in this engaging history, examining the Soviets’ march towards Berlin and the Germans’ final resistance. This book, supplemented with a host of maps and illustrations, provides a vivid portrayal of the death throes of the Third Reich and the end of the war in Europe, exploring the strategy of both sides and the tactics of impromptu urban warfare.” – from Osprey

Zitzlsperger, U. (2021). Historical dictionary of Berlin. Rowman & Littlefield.

“After World War II Berlin became one of the playgrounds of the Cold War; the Berlin Wall made the division between East and West, between ‘capitalism’ and ‘communism’ in 1961 highly visible, though it did remove Berlin from front-line politics. East and West Berlin had turned into shop-windows of ideologies – West Berlin representing the lure of a market economy, East Berlin the promise of socialism. It is, then, fitting that the fall of the Wall in 1989 awarded Berlin such a prominent role. It was here that the development after Reunification of East and West became a closely observed event – and, well beyond Germany, Berlin appeared to represent fundamental developments throughout Europe at the time. Today, Berlin is the capital of reunified Germany and therefore one of the key political players in the European Union (EU) and it’s now a desirable destination for young entrepreneurs.

The Historical Dictionary of Berlin contains a chronology, an introduction, and an extensive bibliography. The dictionary section has more than 300 cross-referenced entries on important personalities, places, institutions, and events. This book is an excellent resource for students, researchers, and anyone wanting to know more about Berlin.” – from Hugendubel

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