Books on Berlin XIV

This one has a book translated by the legendary translator Anthea Bell.

Haakenson, T. O. (2021). Grotesque visions: The Science of Berlin Dada. Bloomsbury Academic.

“Grotesque Visions focuses on the radical avant-garde interventions of Salomo Friedländer (aka Mynona), Til Brugman, and Hannah Höch as they challenged the questionable practices and evidentiary claims of late-19th- and early-20th-century science. Demonstrating the often excessive measures that pathologists, anthropologists, sexologists, and medical professionals went to present their research in a seemingly unambiguous way, this volume shows how Friedländer/Mynona, Brugman, Höch, and other Berlin-based artists used the artistic grotesque to criticize, satirize, and subvert a variety of forms of supposed scientific objectivity.

The volume concludes by examining the exhibition Grotesk!: 130 Jahre Kunst der Frechheit/Comic Grotesque: Wit and Mockery in German Arts, 1870-1940. In contrast to the ahistorical and amorphous concept informing the exhibition, Thomas O. Haakenson reveals a unique deployment of the artistic grotesque that targeted specific established and emerging scientific discourses at the turn of the last fin-de-siècle.” – from Bloomsbury

McKay, S. (2022). Berlin: life and death in the city at the center of the world. St. Martin’s Press.

“Sinclair McKay’s portrait of Berlin from 1919 forward explores the city’s broad human history, from the end of the Great War to the Blockade, rise of the Wall, and beyond.

Sinclair McKay’s Berlin begins by taking readers back to 1919 when the city emerged from the shadows of the Great War to become an extraordinary by-word for modernity—in art, cinema, architecture, industry, science, and politics. He traces the city’s history through the rise of Hitler and the Battle for Berlin which ended in the final conquest of the city in 1945. It was a key moment in modern world history, but beyond the global repercussions lay thousands of individual stories of agony. From the countless women who endured nightmare ordeals at the hands of the Soviet soldiers to the teenage boys fitted with steel helmets too big for their heads and guns too big for their hands, McKay thrusts readers into the human cataclysm that tore down the modernity of the streets and reduced what was once the most sophisticated city on earth to ruins.

Amid the destruction, a collective instinct was also at work—a determination to restore not just the rhythms of urban life, but also its fierce creativity. In Berlin today, there is a growing and urgent recognition that the testimonies of the ordinary citizens from 1919 forward should be given more prominence. That the housewives, office clerks, factory workers, and exuberant teenagers who witnessed these years of terrifying—and for some, initially exhilarating—transformation should be heard. Today, the exciting, youthful Berlin we see is patterned with echoes that lean back into that terrible vortex. In this new history of Berlin, Sinclair McKay erases the lines between the generations of Berliners, making their voices heard again to create a compelling, living portrait of life in this city that lay at the center of the world.” – from macmillan

Simon, M. (2015). Underground in Berlin: a young woman’s extraordinary tale of survival in the heart of Nazi Germany (A. Bell, Trans.). Little, Brown and Company.

“A thrilling piece of undiscovered history, this is the true account of a young Jewish woman who survived World War II in Berlin.

In 1942, Marie Jalowicz, a twenty-year-old Jewish Berliner, made the extraordinary decision to do everything in her power to avoid the concentration camps. She removed her yellow star, took on an assumed identity, and disappeared into the city.

In the years that followed, Marie took shelter wherever it was offered, living with the strangest of bedfellows, from circus performers and committed communists to convinced Nazis. As Marie quickly learned, however, compassion and cruelty are very often two sides of the same coin.

Fifty years later, Marie agreed to tell her story for the first time. Told in her own voice with unflinching honesty, Underground in Berlin is a book like no other, of the surreal, sometimes absurd day-to-day life in wartime Berlin. This might be just one woman’s story, but it gives an unparalleled glimpse into what it truly means to be human.” – from Little, Brown

Millar, P. (2014). 1989: The Berlin Wall: My Part in Its Downfall. Arcadia Books Limited.

“It was an event that changed history and Peter Millar was in the middle of it. For over a decade Millar had been living in East Berlin, as well as Warsaw and Moscow, and in this engaging memoir we follow him to the heart of Cold War Europe. We relive the night that it all disintegrated, and its curious domino-like effect on Eastern Europe. We see Peter as he opens his Stasi file and discovers which of his friends had – or hadn’t – been spying on him. A compelling, amazingly insightful, and entertaining read, this book brings Peter Millar’s characteristic wit and insight to one of the most significant moments in history. Peter Millar has worked for Reuters, the Telegraph Group and the Sunday Times as a foreign correspondent. For the latter he covered the Fall of the Berlin Wall and was named Foreign Correspondent of the Year.” – from Amazon

Parker, J. (2016). Tales of Berlin in American literature up to the 21st century. Brill Rodopi.

“Of all European cities, Americans today are perhaps most curious about Berlin, whose position in the American imagination is an essential component of nineteenth-century, postwar and contemporary transatlantic imagology. Over various periods, Berlin has been a tenuous space for American claims to cultural heritage and to real geographic space in Europe, symbolizing the ultimate evil and the power of redemption. This volume offers a comprehensive examination of the city’s image in American literature from 1840 to the present. Tracing both a history of Berlin and of American culture through the ways the city has been narrated across three centuries by some 100 authors through 145 novels, short stories, plays and poems, Tales of Berlin presents a composite landscape not only of the German capital, but ofshifting subtexts in American society which have contextualized its meaning for Americans in the past, and continue to do so today” – from Brill

Books on Berlin IX

Whyte, I. B., & Frisby, D. (Eds.). (2012). Metropolis Berlin: 1880-1940. University of California Press.

“Metropolis Berlin: 1880-1940 reconstitutes the built environment of Berlin during the period of its classical modernity using over two hundred contemporary texts, virtually all of which are published in English translation for the first time. They are from the pens of those who created Berlin as one of the world’s great cities and those who observed this process: architects, city planners, sociologists, political theorists, historians, cultural critics, novelists, essayists, and journalists. Divided into nineteen sections, each prefaced by an introductory essay, the account unfolds chronologically, with the particular structural concerns of the moment addressed in sequence—be they department stores in 1900, housing in the 1920s, or parade grounds in 1940. Metropolis Berlin: 1880-1940 not only details the construction of Berlin, but explores homes and workplaces, public spaces, circulation, commerce, and leisure in the German metropolis as seen through the eyes of all social classes, from the humblest inhabitants of the city slums, to the great visionaries of the modern city, and the demented dictator resolved to remodel Berlin as Germania.”  – from University of California Press

Gross, L. (1999). The last Jews in Berlin. Carroll & Graf.

“When Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933, approximately one hundred sixty thousand Jews called Berlin home. By 1943 less than five thousand remained in the nation’s capital, the epicenter of Nazism, and by the end of the war, that number had dwindled to one thousand. All the others had died in air raids, starved to death, committed suicide, or been shipped off to the death camps.

In this captivating and harrowing book, Leonard Gross details the real-life stories of a dozen Jewish men and women who spent the final twenty-seven months of World War II underground, hiding in plain sight, defying both the Gestapo and, even worse, Jewish “catchers” ready to report them to the Nazis in order to avoid the gas chambers themselves. A teenage orphan, a black-market jewel trader, a stylish young designer, and a progressive intellectual were among the few who managed to survive. Through their own resourcefulness, bravery, and at times, sheer luck, these Jews managed to evade the tragic fates of so many others.

Gross has woven these true stories of perseverance into a heartbreaking, suspenseful, and moving account with the narrative force of a thriller. Compiled from extensive interviews, The Last Jews in Berlin reveals these individuals’ astounding determination, against all odds, to live each day knowing it could be their last.” – from Open Road

Ingram, S. (Ed.). (2012). World film locations: Berlin. Intellect Books.

“One of the most dynamic capital cities of the twenty-first century, Berlin also has one of the most tumultuous modern histories. A city that came of age, in many senses, with the cinema, it has been captured on film during periods of exurberance, devastation, division and reconstruction. World Film Locations: Berlin offers a broad overview of these varied cinematic representations.

Covering an array of films that ranges from early classics to contemporary star vehicles, this volume features detailed analyses of 46 key scenes from productions shot on location across the city as well as spotlight essays in which contributors with expertise in German studies, urban history and film studies focus on issues central to understanding Berlin film, such as rubble, construction sites and music, and controversial film personalities from Berlin, such as Marlene Dietrich and Leni Riefenstahl. With the help of full-colour illustrations that include film stills and contemporary location shots, World Film Locations: Berlin cinematically maps the city’s long twentieth century, taking readers behind the scenes and shedding new light on the connections between many favourite and possibly soon-to-be-favourite films.” – from Intellect Books

Spector, S. (2016). Violent sensations: sex, crime, and utopia in Vienna and Berlin, 1860-1914. The University of Chicago Press.

“Around the turn of the twentieth century, Vienna and Berlin were centers of scientific knowledge, accompanied by a sense of triumphalism and confidence in progress. Yet they were also sites of fascination with urban decay, often focused on sexual and criminal deviants and the tales of violence surrounding them. Sensational media reports fed the prurient public’s hunger for stories from the criminal underworld: sadism, sexual murder, serial killings, accusations of Jewish ritual child murder—as well as male and female homosexuality.

In Violent Sensations, Scott Spector explores how the protagonists of these stories—people at society’s margins—were given new identities defined by the groundbreaking sciences of psychiatry, sexology, and criminology, and how this expert knowledge was then transmitted to an eager public by journalists covering court cases and police investigations. The book analyzes these sexual and criminal subjects on three levels: first, the expertise of scientists, doctors, lawyers, and scholars; second, the sensationalism of newspaper scandal and pulp fiction; and, third, the subjective ways that the figures themselves came to understand who they were. Throughout, Spector answers important questions about how fantasies of extreme depravity and bestiality figure into the central European self-image of cities as centers of progressive civilization, as well as the ways in which the sciences of social control emerged alongside the burgeoning emancipation of women and homosexuals.” – from The University of Chicago Press

MacGregor, I. (2019). Checkpoint Charlie: the Cold War, the Berlin Wall, and the most dangerous place on earth. Scribner.

“In the early 1960s, East Germany committed a billion dollars to the creation of the Berlin Wall, an eleven-foot-high barrier that consisted of seventy-nine miles of fencing, 300 watchtowers, 250 guard dog runs, twenty bunkers, and was operated around the clock by guards who shot to kill. Over the next twenty-eight years, at least five thousand people attempt to smash through it, swim across it, tunnel under it, or fly over it.

In 1989, the East German leadership buckled in the face of a civil revolt that culminated in half a million East Berliners demanding an end to the ban on free movement. The world’s media flocked to capture the moment which, perhaps more than any other, signaled the end of the Cold War. Checkpoint Charlie had been the epicenter of global conflict for nearly three decades.

Now, “in capturing the essence of the old Cold War [MacGregor] may just have helped us to understand a bit more about the new one” (The Times, London)—the mistrust, oppression, paranoia, and fear that gripped the world throughout this period. Checkpoint Charlie is about the nerve-wracking confrontation between the West and USSR, highlighting such important global figures as Eisenhower, Stalin, JFK, Nikita Khrushchev, Mao Zedung, Nixon, Reagan, and other politicians of the period. He also includes never-before-heard interviews with the men who built and dismantled the Wall; children who crossed it; relatives and friends who lost loved ones trying to escape over it; military policemen and soldiers who guarded the checkpoints; CIA, MI6, and Stasi operatives who oversaw operations across its borders; politicians whose ambitions shaped it; journalists who recorded its story; and many more whose living memories contributed to the full story of Checkpoint Charlie.” – from Simon & Schuster

Books on Berlin VIII

Till, K. E. (2005). The new Berlin: memory, politics, place. University of Minnesota Press.

“The New Berlin reveals a city haunted by ghosts from difficult pasts and “remembered futures,” a place where past, present, and future collide in unexpected ways as individuals and groups search for what it means to be German. Karen Till skillfully moves through the spaces and times of a city marked by voids, ruins, and construction cranes to search through material and affective landscapes of intentional forgetting and painful remembering. In doing so, she deepens our understanding of the practice and politics of place making—and of how particular places embody and narrate distinct national pasts and futures, stories of belonging, and the absences and presences of social memory-work.

Four locations frame The New Berlin: the Topography of Terror, the much-debated Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, the Jewish Museum, and the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp Memorial and Museum. Through these and other sites, we encounter people unexpectedly colliding with and evoking ghosts from multiple Berlins as they dig through social and material landscapes, claim public spaces, market the city, go on tours, or debate what national past should be remembered, for whom, where, and in what form. Through a complex interweaving of field notes, interviews, archival texts, personal narratives, public art, maps, images, and other sources, Till deftly describes how these places and spaces uniquely exemplify the contradictions and tensions of social memory and national identity in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.

Highlighting an interdisciplinary “geo-ethnographic” and nonlinear temporal approach to place making and memory in postunification Germany, The New Berlin introduces readers to people confronting loss and past injustices amid the construction sites and ghosts of the contemporary city.” – from University of Minnesota Press

Evans, J. V. (2011). Life among the ruins: cityscape and sexuality in Cold War Berlin. Palgrave Macmillan.

“As home to 1920s excess and Hitler’s Final Solution, Berlin’s physical and symbolic landscape was an important staging ground for the highs and lows of modernity. In Cold War Berlin, social and political boundaries were porous, and the rubble gave refuge to a re-emerging gay and lesbian scene, youth gangs, prostitutes, hoods, and hustlers.

“Evans’s analysis of the available visual material proves to be innovative and illuminating.” – Malte Zierenberg, Humboldt University Berlin, Germany

“Greatly aided by her eloquent storytelling, the book reaches out across disciplines and appeals not only to historians of postwar Germany but also to geographers as well as scholars of film, literature, and gender studies.” – Yuliya Komska, Dartmouth College, United States” – from Springer Link

Dekel, I. (2013). Mediation at the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin. Palgrave Macmillan.

“Analyzing action at the Holocaust memorial in Berlin, this first ethnography of the site offers a fresh approach to studying the memorial and memory work as potential civic engagement of visitors with themselves and others rather than with history itself.

“Dekel focuses on the participation in memory work as a potential act of citizenship citizenship defined in cosmopolitan and inclusive terms and, by exploring the different stages of participation in memory work, she is able to theorise the ‘moral career’ of visitors. Mediation at the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin moves us away from the restrictive notions of the Holocaust sublime and towards the Holocaust’s speakability through performances of memory.” – Richard Crownshaw, Goldsmiths, University of London, UK

“Irit Dekel’s book presents an innovative approach to the study of memorials and the memory that they embody, applied to the ideal memorial for such a study…As memorials and other mechanisms for dealing with the past change, so too must the methods we use to study them. Dekel’s book provides one such new approach to studying engagement with the past as it occurs in the Holocaust Memorial, and it is to be hoped that it will pave the way for future ethnographic studies of the interactions between memorials and their visitors, and between past and present.” – Amy Sodaro, European Journal of Cultural and Political Sociology, 2014″ – from Springer Link

Biro, M. (2009). The Dada cyborg: visions of the new human in Weimar Berlin. University of Minnesota Press.

“In an era when technology, biology, and culture are becoming ever more closely connected, The Dada Cyborg explains how the cyborg as we know it today actually developed between 1918 and 1933 when German artists gave visual form to their utopian hopes and fantasies in a fearful response to World War I.

In what could be termed a prehistory of the posthuman, Matthew Biro shows the ways in which new forms of human existence were imagined in Germany between the two world wars through depictions of cyborgs. Examining the work of Hannah Höch, Raoul Hausmann, George Grosz, John Heartfield, Otto Dix, and Rudolf Schlichter, he reveals an innovative interpretation of the cyborg as a representative of hybrid identity, as well as a locus of new modes of awareness created by the impact of technology on human perception. Tracing the prevalence of cyborgs in German avant-garde art, Biro demonstrates how vision, hearing, touch, and embodiment were beginning to be reconceived during the Weimar Republic.

Biro’s unique and interdisciplinary analysis offers a substantially new account of the Berlin Dada movement, one that integrates the group’s poetic, theoretical, and performative practices with its famous visual strategies of photomontage, assemblage, and mixed-media painting to reveal radical images of a “new human.”” – from University of Minnesota Press

Beevor, A. (2007). Berlin: the downfall, 1945. Penguin Books.

““A tale drenched in drama and blood, heroism and cowardice, loyalty and betrayal.”—Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post

The Red Army had much to avenge when it finally reached the frontiers of the Third Reich in January 1945. Frenzied by their terrible experiences with Wehrmacht and SS brutality, they wreaked havoc—tanks crushing refugee columns, mass rape, pillage, and unimaginable destruction. Hundreds of thousands of women and children froze to death or were massacred; more than seven million fled westward from the fury of the Red Army. It was the most terrifying example of fire and sword ever known.

Antony Beevor, renowned author of D-Day and The Battle of Arnhem, has reconstructed the experiences of those millions caught up in the nightmare of the Third Reich’s final collapse. The Fall of Berlin is a terrible story of pride, stupidity, fanaticism, revenge, and savagery, yet it is also one of astonishing endurance, self-sacrifice, and survival against all odds.” – from Penguin Random House

Books on Berlin VII

Gordon, M. (Ed.). (2006 [2000]). Voluptuous panic: the erotic world of Weimar Berlin (Expanded Edition). Feral House.

“When Voluptuous Panic: The Erotic World of Weimar Berlin first appeared in the fall of 2000, it inspired wide acclaim and multiple printings.

This sourcebook of hundreds of rare visual delights from the pre-Nazi, Cabaret-period “Babylon on the Spree” has the distinction of being praised both by scholars and avatars of contemporary culture, inspiring performers, filmmakers, historians straight and gay, designers, and musicians like the Dresden Dolls and Marilyn Manson.

Voluptuous Panic’s expanded edition includes the new illustrated chapter “Sex Magic and the Occult,” documenting German pagan cults and their bizarre erotic rituals, including instructions for entering into the “Sexual Fourth Dimension.” The deluxe hardcover edition also includes sensational accounts of hypno-erotic cabaret acts, Berlin fetish prostitution (“The Boot Girl Visit”), gay life (“A Wild-Boy Initiation!”), descriptions and illustrations of Aleister Crowley’s Berlin OTO secret society, and sex crime (“The Curious Career and Untimely Death of Fritz Ulbrich”).” – from Feral House

Hockenos, P. (2017). Berlin calling: a story of anarchy, music, the wall, and the birth of the new Berlin. The New Press.

Berlin Calling is a never-before-told account of the Berlin Wall’s momentous crash, seen through the eyes of the divided city’s street artists and punk rockers, impresarios and underground agitators. Berlin-based writer Paul Hockenos offers us an original chronicle of 1989’s “peaceful revolution,” which upended communism in East Germany, and the wild, permissive years of artistic ferment and pirate utopias that followed when protest and idealism, techno clubs and sprawling squats were the order of the day.

This is a story stocked with larger-than-life characters from Berlin’s highly political subcultures—including David Bowie and Iggy Pop, the internationally known French Wall artist Thierry Noir, cult figure Blixa Bargeld of the industrial band Einstürzende Neubauten, and a clandestine cell of East Berlin anarchists. Hockenos argues that the do-it-yourself energy and raw urban vibe of the early 1990s shaped the new Berlin and still pulses through the city today.” – from The New Press

Schneider, P. (2014). Berlin now: the city after the Wall (S. Schlondorff, Trans.). Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

“A smartly guided romp, entertaining and enlightening, through Europe’s most charismatic and enigmatic city.

It isn’t Europe’s most beautiful city or its oldest. Its architecture is not more impressive than that of Rome or Paris; its museums do not hold more treasures than those in Barcelona or London. And yet, “when natives of New York, Tel Aviv, or Rome ask me where I’m from and I allude to Berlin,” writes Peter Schneider, “their eyes instantly light up.”
Berlin Now is a longtime Berliner’s bright, bold, and digressive exploration of the heterogeneous allure of this vibrant city. Delving beneath the obvious answers—Berlin’s club scene, bolstered by the lack of a mandatory closing time; the artistic communities that thrive due to the relatively low cost of living—Schneider takes us on an insider’s tour of this rapidly metamorphosing metropolis, where high-class soirees are held at construction sites and enterprising individuals often accomplish more, and without public funding (assembling, for example, a makeshift club on the banks of the Spree River), than Berlin’s officials do.
Schneider’s perceptive, witty investigations of everything from the insidious legacy of suspicion instilled by the East German secret police to the clashing attitudes toward work, food, and love held by former East and West Berliners have been sharply translated by Sophie Schlondorff. The result is a book so lively that readers will want to jump on a plane—just as soon as they’ve finished their adventures on the page.” – from macmillan

Nilsen, M. (2008). Railways and the Western European capitals: studies of implantation in London, Paris, Berlin, and Brussels. Palgrave Macmillan.

“This study examines the intense and multifaceted impact of the rail- ways on cities, but it does not attempt to offer a comprehensive treatment of railways in cities: half a dozen books might provide a start for such an agenda. Instead, this work presents various aspects of implantation, high- lighting the complexity of the process and the diversity of its implications. Rather than striving to be a classical edifice, this book is a postmodern faceted construct. It is conceived not as a Grand Central, but as a Union, structure, bringing different lines together.” – from the “Introduction” section of the book

Nash, B. (2015). A Walk Along The Ku’damm: Playground and Battlefield of Weimar Berlin. Self-published?

“The Kurfürstendamm is numbered up one side from Breitscheidplatz to Halensee and back down again, so this walk is about three kilometres round-trip and should take approximately two hours. It is recommended that you do this on a Sunday or Public Holiday if possible, as at all other times the street is so busy that you may not get the chance to pause and take in the detail.In addition to the landmarks and stories along the route, the street is also peppered with Stolpersteine, small brass blocks laid in the cobbles to remember the names of the victims of Nazi rule, outside the homes and workplaces they were taken from. These stones are not always easy to spot, and there are sadly too many of them to tell every individual story, but it’s worthwhile to take the time to pause and reflect.This is, of course, not a definitive history – records get lost, streets are renamed and people forget – but a personal collection of stories that detail the history of a street through the Weimar era and beyond.” – from “How to use this Guide” section of the ebook

Books on Berlin VI

Föllmer, M. (2015). Individuality and modernity in Berlin self and society from Weimar to the wall. Cambridge University Press.

“Moritz Föllmer traces the history of individuality in Berlin from the late 1920s to the construction of the Berlin Wall in August 1961. The demand to be recognised as an individual was central to metropolitan society, as were the spectres of risk, isolation and loss of agency. This was true under all five regimes of the period, through economic depression, war, occupation and reconstruction. The quest for individuality could put democracy under pressure, as in the Weimar years, and could be satisfied by a dictatorship, as was the case in the Third Reich. It was only in the course of the 1950s, when liberal democracy was able to offer superior opportunities for consumerism, that individuality finally claimed the mantle. Individuality and Modernity in Berlin proposes a fresh perspective on twentieth-century Berlin that will engage readers with an interest in the German metropolis as well as European urban history more broadly.” – from Cambridge Core

Stratigakos, D. (2008). A women’s Berlin: building the modern city. University of Minnesota Press.

“Around the beginning of the twentieth century, women began to claim Berlin as their own, expressing a vision of the German capital that embraced their feminine modernity, both culturally and architecturally. Women located their lives and made their presence felt in the streets and institutions of this dynamic metropolis. From residences to restaurants, schools to exhibition halls, a visible network of women’s spaces arose to accommodate changing patterns of life and work.

A Women’s Berlin retraces this largely forgotten city, which came into being in the years between German unification in 1871 and the demise of the monarchy in 1918 and laid the foundation for a novel experience of urban modernity. Although the phenomenon of women taking control of urban space was widespread in this period, Despina Stratigakos shows how Berlin’s concentration of women’s building projects produced a more fully realized vision of an alternative metropolis. Female clients called on female design professionals to help them define and articulate their architectural needs. Many of the projects analyzed in A Women’s Berlin represent a collaborative effort uniting female patrons, architects, and designers to explore the nature of female aesthetics and spaces.

At the same time that women were transforming the built environment, they were remaking Berlin in words and images. Female journalists, artists, political activists, and social reformers portrayed women as influential actors on the urban scene and encouraged female audiences to view their relationship to the city in a radically different light. Stratigakos reveals how women’s remapping of Berlin connected the imaginary to the physical, merged dreams and asphalt, and inextricably linked the creation of the modern woman with that of the modern city.” – from University of Minnesota Press

Hake, S. (2008). Topographies of class: modern architecture and mass society in Weimar Berlin. University of Michigan Press.

“In Topographies of Class, Sabine Hake explores why Weimar Berlin has had such a powerful hold on the urban imagination. Approaching Weimar architectural culture from the perspective of mass discourse and class analysis, Hake examines the way in which architectural projects; debates; and representations in literature, photography, and film played a key role in establishing the terms under which contemporaries made sense of the rise of white-collar society.

Focusing on the so-called stabilization period, Topographies of Class maps out complex relationships between modern architecture and mass society, from Martin Wagner’s planning initiatives and Erich Mendelsohn’s functionalist buildings, to the most famous Berlin texts of the period, Alfred Döblin’s city novel Berlin Alexanderplatz (1929) and Walter Ruttmann’s city film Berlin, Symphony of the Big City (1927). Hake draws on critical, philosophical, literary, photographic, and filmic texts to reconstruct the urban imagination at a key point in the history of German modernity, making this the first study—in English or German—to take an interdisciplinary approach to the rich architectural culture of Weimar Berlin.” – from University of Michigan Press

Gay, P., & Gay, P. (1999). My German question: growing up in Nazi Berlin. Yale University Press.

“In this poignant book, a renowned historian tells of his youth as an assimilated, anti-religious Jew in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1939—“the story,” says Peter Gay, “of a poisoning and how I dealt with it.” With his customary eloquence and analytic acumen, Gay describes his family, the life they led, and the reasons they did not emigrate sooner, and he explores his own ambivalent feelings—then and now—toward Germany and the Germans.

Gay relates that the early years of the Nazi regime were relatively benign for his family: as a schoolboy at the Goethe Gymnasium he experienced no ridicule or attacks, his father’s business prospered, and most of the family’s non-Jewish friends remained supportive. He devised survival strategies—stamp collecting, watching soccer, and the like—that served as screens to block out the increasingly oppressive world around him. Even before the events of 1938–39, culminating in Kristallnacht, the family was convinced that they must leave the country. Gay describes the bravery and ingenuity of his father in working out this difficult emigration process, the courage of the non-Jewish friends who helped his family during their last bitter months in Germany, and the family’s mounting panic as they witnessed the indifference of other countries to their plight and that of others like themselves. Gay’s account—marked by candor, modesty, and insight—adds an important and curiously neglected perspective to the history of German Jewry.” – from Yale University Press

Manghani, S. (2008). Image critique & the fall of the Berlin Wall. Intellect.

“Although we are now accustomed to watching history unfold live on the air, the fall of the Berlin Wall was one of the first instances when history was produced on television. Inspired by the Wall and its powerful resonances, Sunil Manghani’s breakthrough study presents the new critical concept of “image critique,” a method of critiquing images while simultaneously using them as a means to engage with contemporary culture. Manghani examines current debates surrounding visual culture, ranging from such topics as Francis Fukuyama’s end of history thesis to metapictures and East German film. The resulting volume is an exhilarating interweaving of history, politics, and visual culture.

“Sunil Manghani’s Image Critique & the Fall of the Berlin Wall is the best sort of scholarly book—an intellectually grounded and theoretically adventurous critical performance. Through his concept of image critique, Manghani makes a virtue out of the many attributes of images that bedevil visual cultural studies, rightly insisting that rather than domesticating images for the tyranny of the word, scholars must do visual studies from the ground of images, in the process reconceptualizing theory and criticism. Manghani adeptly anchors his insights in close engagements with images, most notably images from the event of the fall of the Berlin Wall. If heeded, Manghani’s book will change the trajectory of visual cultural studies by making critique a performance with force in the world.” – from The University of Chicago Press