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IA What themes have you identified for future study in Berlin?
AA There are two topics which interest me here which I think are of particular
importance in dealing with Berlin:
1 Failed revolutions
2 Encryption without a body
The two themes are of course entwined in the city as I think is
clear from two sites I surveyed [see Aerial Reconnaissance
surveys D and E].
Alexis de Tocqueville remarked that 'There are no revolutions in
Germany, because the police would not allow it'. The revolutionary
impulse is transformed into a cult of death, which congeals around
monuments until this in turn is transformed into a cult of the monument,
and hence a need for failures, victims and martyrs.
In Berlin’s central cemetery stands a monument on which
the inscription reads, ‘on this site stood a monument’.
This was the site a monument to Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Liebknecht
and the martyrs of the failed revolution of 1919, erected by the
Communist Party in 1924 and destroyed by the Nazis in 1935. The
monument to the monument dates from 1983. Meanwhile the GDR authorities
erected in 1951 a gandiose ‘Memorial Site of the Socialists’
as a place of pilgrimage and assembly at the entrance to the cemetery,
equipped with empty granite sarcophagi bearing the names Rosa Luxemburg,
Karl Liebknecht and others, surrounded by salvaged gravestones and
memorial plaques for party officials.
The GDR Communists liked to erect monuments to failed revolutions
and doomed restistance to the Nazi state. Perhaps Luxemburg and
Liebknecht would have been forgotten or their memories erased if
their revolution had succeeded and they had been engulfed by the
apparatus of a ruling party. As victims of the National Socialists*
Luxemburg and Liebknecht have also maintained an extraordinary prestige
in the West, not usually so fond of audacious revolutionary Socialists.
Likewise West Berlin celebrated the failed uprising against the
GDR State in the Strasse des 17 Juni only when it was clear it would
be without consequence. The memorial which stands in Leipziger Strasse
since 1993 recovers and reasserts multiple failures.
Encryption without a body, the empty sarcophagus, grave or tomb
returns with memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe, designed by
Peter Eisenman. The monument, arguably, reconciles the city with
the destruction organised there by asserting order and place. It
also contradicts the fate of the victims it commemorates, whose
bodies, if buried (in unmarked sites), were normally dug up again
and burnt, to find only a ‘grave in the air.’
The inspectorate is going have to deal with several configurations
of death and air, particular to Berlin.
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