International Necronautical Society INS Inspectorate Berlin
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publication: Aerial Reconnaissance Berlin

committee papers: report supplemental to the dossier Aerial Reconnaissance Berlin

The following document was released after parts of it were quoted in a statement issued by Triple Canopy. Since that statement, independent and unauthorised by INS, has been publicised, the INS Deptartment of Propaganda has issued the original document to avoid any misinterpretation of quotations taken out of context. This document forms a supplement to the the dossier Aerial Reconnaissance Berlin published in 2009.

Title: INS Inspectorate Berlin: Surveillance Report
Type: Confidential Briefing
Authorised: Anthony Auerbach, INS Chief of Propaganda
Authorisation Code: AA230610

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Surveillance of the city of Berlin, mandated by the INS Inspectorate, remains for the time being focused on aerial reconnaissance, inspection and research. INS observers have been installed in high buildings. Local informants and collaborators continue to be recruited. Foreign agents are being mobilised to obtain information and spread INS propaganda under cover of literary, journalistic and artistic enterprises. Technical preparations have been initiated for future interventions in the city.

The following represents a sample of information acquired recently, corresponding with current and possible future INS investigations and activities in Berlin. The remarks offered to the Inspectorate Committee in this document highlight aspects of the Inspectorate’s principal concerns (marking and erasure; transit, circulation and transmission; cryptography and death) and their interconnections that have not hitherto been emphasised. For example: how the archaeological move, as if to exhume the past, mainly brings debris to the surface, effects erasure, and calls for burial.


Several photographs are attached.[A display of the figures cited in the text below and additional photographs opens in a new window]


References to the dossier Aerial Reconnaissance Berlin (INS PUB. B.01/09) are indicated by section/paragraph numbers in brackets.

1 Erasure

INS reconnaissance operations remain concentrated on sites of erasure, in accordance with the brief issued by the Inspectorate (1), with particular attention on places designated as monuments and memorials. These sites were identified as the ‘sites of the most intense, the most intentional and the most ruthless erasure’ (5.4). A variety of material and symbolic techniques of effacement, camouflage and encryption were observed (5.n1).

Berlin’s system of monuments is being actively maintained, enhanced and expanded. Previously neglected victims are being identified and additional areas of the city appropriated to marking their deaths. Previously demolished and neglected monuments are being revived and/or revised. Competition among lobby groups for political favours, among artists and designers for commissions, and among developers for government subsidies and tourist spending tends to intensify the process by which monumental architecture and memorial installations consume an increasing proportion of the real estate of the World Capital of Death.

2 Continued Monitoring

In addition to documenting the five sites selected for aerial photographic reconnaissance, the dossier B.01/09 indicated two sample cases for continued monitoring of possible neurotic symptoms (5.n2).

2.1 An observation platform has been erected at the Schlossplatz, close to the lawn which now covers the place where the Palace of the Republic was razed (1989–2009) in anticipation of the reinstatement of the royal palace, which stood on the same site until 1950.

Fig. 1 Preliminary construction of the observation post (2009).

Fig. 2 A permanent-looking advertising-cum-observation platform now being built suggests the reconstruction of the palace will not be finished soon (2010).

Apart from ordinary commercials, the provisional platform advertises itself, the soon to be completed ‘Humboldt-Box®’which should replace it, and the projected reconstruction of the Schlossplatz. The trademark ‘Humboldt-Box®’ (taking its name from the proposed Humboldt Forum to be housed in the new palace), whose construction is presently overseen by the provisional platform, was designed by a firm that specialises in spectacular outdoor advertising, in particular, what they call ‘monument veiling’, which offers brand-owners building-sized advertising opportunities in prominent locations, and monument-owners revenues to support redevelopment of the monument. If the advertising space is not sold, the monument may be covered in a replica façade, as has already been observed at several sites in Berlin (e.g. St. Hedwigs-Kathedrale and the Alte Bibliothek (6.A[n33]), both on Bebelplatz; and the Bauakademie, on the Kupfergraben, opposite the Schlossplatz (5.n2.3[n30]) — in the case of the Bauakademie, there is no building behind the façade. An echo of the just-removed Palace of the Republic appeared briefly on the façade of the privately funded Temporary Kunsthalle erected on the opposite side of the Schlossplatz, 2008–2010).

The provisional platform is dressed with a simulation of part of the façade of the projected reconstruction of the Stadtschloss, the same part as was preserved, or rather replicated, by the Communists when the ‘Karl Liebknecht Balcony’ was built into the DDR State Council building (5.n2.2).

Fig. 3 Two copies of the balcony face each other across the Schlossplatz: the former Staatsratsgebäude (5.n2.3) can be seen at the left, while the advertisement for the Aussichtsterasse is on the right (2010).

The Schlossplatz itself is now the site of extensive archaeological excavations, displaying the full rigour of the art of digging (Figs. 22–24). The exercise appears to be intended primarily to authenticate the reconstruction of the Stadtschloss by uncovering the foundations of the original, although other pretexts are officially cited. In the context — that is, of the resurrection of the house of the Hohenzollerns, Kings of Prussia and Emperors of Germany — it looks like digging for imperial glory, or at least the image of Rome, World Capital of Archaeology.

The archaeological dig is sponsored by the Federal Government, the City of Berlin and the Jobcenter Lichtenberg, hinting the project may be designed as an opportunity for unemployed people to dig holes and fill them in again under the appropriate supervision. However, it may also be a sign that the organisation promoting the rebuilding of the royal palace — which solicits donations under the slogan MACH GESCHICHTE! (Make history!) — has successfully co-opted the government and its agencies to clear the ground for its own ambitions.

Fig. 4 An ‘information’ placard provided by the lobby group that succeeded in persuading the government to adopt the idea of rebuilding the royal palace advertises the demolition of the Palace of the Republic as a ‘democratic decision’ (2009).

Further comments on an apparent trend towards archaeology, or rather, the image of archaeology, seen in various parts of Berlin will be offered below.

2.2 The concrete bus that stopped at the Philharmonie on the corner of Tiergartenstraße and Scharounstraße in 2008 (5.n2.4[n32]) has now gone.

Fig. 5 The Sans Souci bus stopped close to where the Denkmal der grauen Busse stood at the infamous address Tiergartenstraße 4 (2010).

A new freestanding plaque and a poster in the nearby bus shelters now inform people about the Nazi programme of murdering Germans with disabilities, codenamed ‘Aktion T4’ (after the address of the building where it was devised and administered). These panels now complement the plaque on the pavement which remembers the ‘forgotten victims’ beside the blank sculpture by Richard Serra (Fig. 6).

The information panel, put up by the city’s department for art and culture and the Topography of Terror Foundation (see below), also announces: ‘The area around this plaque is due to be redesigned as a memorial site for remembrance and information on “T4”.’ For the time being, a newly designed ‘Aktion T4’ logo has been provided by the designer, adorning the information panel (Fig. 7).

3 ‘Grass-roots’

Like many of Berlin’s monumental enterprises, the rebuilding of the Stadtschloss and the memorial at the Philharmonie result from the initiatives of so-called ‘grass-roots’ organisations: interest groups, enthusiast groups, self-appointed lobby groups, and in some cases individual (7.3.5[n63]) and commercial initiatives. The Association for the Rebuilding of the Berliner Stadtschloss and the Topography of Terror Foundation are among the most successful in achieving institutional status and state patronage.

A variety of private interests and political groups are concerned to leave their mark in ‘public’ space, for example: the group that calls itself Aktion 18. März successfully lobbied for the renaming of the space on the western side of the Brandenburg Gate Platz des 18. März, in memory of the failed bourgeois revolution of 1848. The party that wanted to rename a place for Waldemar Pabst, the officer credited with making sure of the murders of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht on the tacit orders of the SPD regime, and thus saving Germany from a proletarian revolution, did not succeed in persuading the local authority. The Society for the Promotion of Art and Culture on Rosa Luxemburg Platz, is responsible for several sculpture- and gardening projects including a sculpture-assemblage of copies of fragments of well-known, mainly leftist, monuments, by the artist-duo Clegg and Guttmann, apparently intended to thematise the role of monuments in changing spatial and historical contexts.

Fig. 8 It could be part of the artists’ intention that the sculpture is constantly in need of repair (2008).

A copy of a bronze statue of Rosa Luxemburg recently erected across the road greets visitors to the offices of the former DDR youth paper Junge Welt, as if to advance a claim on the place named after her (Fig. 9), or perhaps to compensate for the lack of any figurative memorial in the artist-designed, SPD-PDS sponsored ‘Denkzeichen’ (memorial tokens) which are scattered about the square, as if to quiet the competing claims on her person.

Fig. 10 Part of the ‘Denkzeichen’ memorial installed on Rosa Luxemburg Platz in 2006 (2010). For the history of this quotation within a quotation, see INS PUB. B.01/09, 6.D.5[n50].

Another society is currently promoting the redesigning of the Friedhof der Märzgefallenen — the burial place of the victims of March 1848, and of November–December 1918 (6.D.2) — as a place for ‘positive remembrance culture’, where, according to their brochure, ‘the significance of individuals for the success of democracy’ should be ‘experienced through the example of the cemetery’.

Fig. 11 The current design of the burial and pilgrimage site is its Communist-modern iteration, dating from 1960, now in a state of romantic dilapidation (2010) (See also Fig. 12, c. 1912).

As far-fetched as the cemetery proposal sounds, political parties, lobby groups, cultural societies and self-styled communities have succeeded in realising projects no less ludicrous-seeming, with and without official support. For example: a monumental slab inscribed for the ‘victims of the second world war and the division of Germany’ which has the Ten Commandments written on the back, or the meticulous art-historical conservation of the exterior dilapidation of a house in Mitte that was squatted in 1990, while nearby buildings, still empty, remain subject both to further deterioration and to possible future redecoration (Fig. 13).

Some proposals that have been advanced suggest a critical approach to Berlin’s memorial culture as well as a comment on the its proponents. The entrenched leisure class — which enjoys the tranquility of a depopulated city, and, having formed the urban avant-garde of what East Germans call the ‘takeover’ and West Germans prefer to call the ‘peaceful revolution’, tends to resist further capitalist development — this class would appear to be indicted by a proposal for a banner inscription in one of Berlin’s inner-city suburbs: ‘Ruhe und Frieden ohne Juden’ (Peace and Quiet without the Jews). Other proposals, such as erecting a statue of Lady Macbeth, would appear to have a more general ironic import. Though harmless, these suggestions were blocked by the authorities. Similar proposals have been circulated mainly for polemic effect, probably without hope of being realised, but nonetheless were taken seriously. The suggestion of systematically extracting, melting down and selling off Berlin’s ‘gold teeth’, that is, the ‘Stolpersteine’ (Stumbing Blocks) as they are properly called — inscribed brass cobblestones set into the pavement which are meant to remind the current residents of a house of the names of former residents who were deported and murdered — resulted in the cobbles being secured in concrete.

Fig. 14 The so-called ‘Stolpersteine’ which first appeared in Kreuzberg in 1997 are an individual artist’s enterprise. Although initiated without official approval, the inscribed cobbles were adopted by the local authorities and have spread throughout the city.

Notable is the plurality of such initiatives and the variety of societies, foundations and communities formed to promote them. The activities of such ‘grass-roots’ organisations have become a familiar part of the urban and media landscape in Berlin and therefore are to be recommended as front organisations for INS activities when required.

4 Return

Sites previously the subjects of detailed aerial surveys were revisited recently.

The restoration of the façade of the law faculty building that formerly housed the royal library (6.A.1) on what is now called Bebelplatz is almost complete, but the building is yet to be unveiled.

Fig. 15 No trace remains (Fig. 16, 2010) on the façade where the Lenin plaque was removed (6.A.2) (2005).

The new institutional building and landscaping of the site of the Topography of Terror (6.B.1) is now complete and open to the public. Most of the didactic components of the complex have been moved indoors while additional, formal emphasis has been placed on the exposed or reburied ‘archaeological’ finds — the cellars and remains of foundations of buildings formerly used by the Nazi administration.

Fig. 17 The design of the Topography of Terror exhibition complex has achieved the aesthetic unity of the new pavilion, the covered and uncovered remains of demolished buildings, the remnants of the Berlin wall and the refurbished Nazi Air Ministry, currently the Federal Finance Ministry.

The ‘balast’ that surrounds the building — that is, the type of stones usually used on railway lines — was laid on an impermeable membrane to help prevent the colonisation of the area by plants. However this already proved ineffective during the construction phase. It is not clear what herbicide regime is used to maintain this ‘garden’.

Fig. 18 The anomaly (a hump) that was the topic of PR (6.C) in 2005 has subsided (Fig. 19, 2010).

Fig. 20 A new granite table inscribed ‘To the Victims of Stalinism’ has been installed opposite the Memorial Site of the Socialists (Fig. 21) (5.n1.2.1[n19], 6.D.5)

5 Archaeology

Several remarks were made in the Dossier submitted to the INS Inspectorate Committee in 2009 regarding burial, its symbols, surrogates (5.n1.2.4–5) and reiterations (6.D.2[n46]). Mention was made of grave-digging as form of sculpture (6.A.2[n39], 6.D.5–6), of exhumations (7.3.5[Additional note]) and quasi-archaeological excavations (5.n1.2.6).

The symbolic action of digging was one of the opening moves in the ‘grass-roots’ campaign for the recovery of the site known as Prinz Albrecht Terrain (6.B). The uncovering of buried parts of buildings was central to the exhibition Topography of Terror which opened in 1987. These remains — the basements once used by Nazi institutions — formed the principal material exhibit upon which the narrative of the Nazi terror apparatus and its victims was hung. The quasi-archaeological ruins, displayed for contemplation, have now been mostly separated from the didactic exhibition in the new building and landscape design for the Topography of Terror Foundation which inherited the whole site. Some earlier excavations have been filled in and other building remains newly exposed. Likewise, the uncovering of the foundations of the demolished Stadtschloss preserved under the tarmac in front of the Palace of the Republic was central to the campaign for the reinstatement of the royal palace.

Fig. 22 While extensive archaeological digging (see also Figs. 23–24) is now underway in the area about to redeveloped as a simulacrum of the old Hohenzollern palace, the foundations of the former DDR palace were systematically removed (see also Fig. 3) (2010).

Fig. 25 The basements uncovered by the earlier digs on the Schlossplatz remain exposed and are deteriorating rapidly from the action of frost and vegetation (2010).

These two projects, each concerned in its own way with state and empire, demonstrate how archaeology can stake a compelling claim on a particular territory while selectively re-presenting the recent past as pre-history, or completely obliterating it. The Topography of Terror and Stadtschloss campaigns have achieved an exemplary status that extends to an image of archaeology for Berlin. That is to say, an embodiment of archaeology as wish-image in a city where direct reflection, say, on Athens or Rome would tend to be regarded as hubris. (The dream project of refurbishing a nineteenth-century neo-classical museum as a ruin, realised recently in Berlin by an English architect, provides another model for salvaging the past: in this case renovating an outdated image of history — neo-classicism — with a romantic version of the antique.)

The Topography of Terror affirms its own example. The design realised recently honours the ‘original’ dig, while burying the erasure of the failed memorial project that preceded it (the surface surveyed as part of the Aerial Reconnaissance phase of the Inspectorate, Fig. 26).

Fig. 27 The digging season in Berlin reveals widespread enthusiasm for the archaeology of the recent past. Rathaus (2010).

Fig. 28 Karl-Marx-Forum (2010).

Fig. 29 Bernauerstraße (2010).

Fig. 30 Oranienplatz (2010).

Fig. 31 The exemplary character of archaeology lends an empty significance to the disclosures exhibited as part of the extension of the Berlin Wall Memorial, now stretching some 1400 m along the former course of the Wall on Bernauer Straße (2010).

Fig. 32 The same material, on the one hand discarded as debris, on the other hand revealed as a find (2010).

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