Weimar is an elegant historic town, one of the most visited in Germany with its long cultural history and its political importance. The city has been home to the composers Lizt, and Bach, the writers, Goethe and Schiller and the artists and architects, Kandinsky, Klee, Feininger and Gropius at the Bauhaus, the most important German design school of the interwar period.
Standing high on a nearby hill is the memorial tower of Buchenwald concentration camp, it can be seen easily from almost every part of town serving as a reminder of its dark history.
Strolling around the town soon after dusk we came upon the start of an extraordinary evening, a musical event involving the whole town, it began in Theaterplatz, with people stood still, looking forward and holding various music players. There were to be concerts, community bell-ringing, everyone in the town contributing to the musical night. Alan Bern – Sound Installation
Unfortunately not speaking German, we had no idea of the events in store and instead of being part of it, we spent the evening elsewhere.
Drei Linden, or Checkpoint Bravo as it was also known, on the motorway between Berlin Tergel airport and the former East Germany. No doubt originally unpainted concrete, the current funfair colouring, red with blue windows belies its former grim purpose.
Part of the medieval fortified walls of Weimar, this tower is now a club for students.
This sign is made from Corten steel the lettering cut out by water-jet. Space below is left for chalking up the day’s events.
These two empty apartment blocks, in Weimar and Dessau respectively are run down, abandoned, no-one wants to live in them. It is a problem in both of these cities, their populations have diminished dramatically since re-unification, especially in Dessau where more than a third of the population have left, mostly those in their middle years.
There is still a marked difference between the shops and goods in former East Germany compared to the former West Germany. Weimar shopping streets are quiet, there are no crowds, the shops are not commercialised , there are few advertising boards, no neon signs, just shopkeepers and shoppers quietly going about their business.
Weimar is an historic cultured town, hardly damaged during the war, whereas Dessau lost a great many buildings and so, much of its current architecture is of the Eastern Block brutalist model. There is a steady programme of transformation to create more desirable dwellings, adding balconies and colour to the flat grey facades and re-fitting the interiors.
The addition of a new lighting plan has transformed this vast grey arcade in one of the Brutalist East German buildings.
One of the last remaining stretches of wall at Niederkichenerstrasse has been preserved and the cells on the east side in the basements of the SS and Gestapo headquarters, have been exposed. It is a chilling place.
The Topographie Des Terrors is an exhibition pavilion, documenting the history of the place. architect Ursula Wilms (Heinle, Wischer und Partner, Berlin) and the landscape architect Heinz W. Hallmann (Aachen) An extraordinary building where numerous horizontal bars both inside and outside filter and fracture light creating an ethereal quality.
I noticed this man determined to take his “selfie” against the “Wall”, in some ways it seemed disrespectful but who am I to pass judgement, having the privilege of being free all my life.
Finally here is Checkpoint Charlie, a replica, the original wooden building is now preserved elsewhere but it was here, at this very point where the first East Berliners crossed legally to freedom in West Berlin into the US Sector at 10:45pm on 9th November 1989.