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The fall of the Berlin Wall led to a radical urban change in the martyr city of the Cold War. A prodigious metamorphosis that came with the recovery of capital status and whose less friendly face are the social ravages of real estate speculation.

From the Berlin of 1945, swept away by the Allied bombings, which on August 13, 1961 dawned broken by the wall, or which on November 9, 1989 lived the most beautiful night: there are many scars accumulated on the city-state and German capital.

Thirty years after that night when nobody knew what would happen the next minute, Berlin is an atypical capital. A city in permanent construction with three national operas and 175 museums, but without an international airport worthy of the first European power.

Capital by 13 votes

The fall of the wall marked the end of the Cold War for Berlin, for Germany and for the rest of the world. The 3.4 million Berliners were immersed in an express reunification process embodied in the Unity Treaty, which entered into force on October 3, 1990.

A piece of the train that went by the wall in the Memorial in Bernauer Strasse.


The key to the great transformation was actually derived from the decision adopted in June 1991 by the Bundestag (federal Parliament), still in Bonn, after eleven hours of debates and for only thirteen votes of difference (337 in favor, 320 against).

There the capital transfer from Bonn was sentenced, on the banks of the Rhine, in Berlin, 65 kilometers from Poland. It was a political decision, which somewhat broke the federalist and decentralized spirit in favor of strong capitality. Berlin became the center of power of enlarged Germany, with more than 80 million inhabitants.

The entry into force of the Treaty of Unity – and termination of the German Democratic Republic (RFA) – was settled in eleven months. The great move of the governmental and parliamentary apparatus, plus its corresponding official, it took years.

With the transfer it was operated the great urban and social metamorphosis in a city that, at the time of the division, was an subsidized oasis for eternal students, in the west, and the capital of the GDR, in the east.

Relocate the center of power of the great European power it involved distributing spaces and ministries between new buildings and former Prussian dependencies, of the Third Reich or of communist Germany.

The old Reichstag was reissued as the seat of Parliament (Bundestag). The Department of Labor was installed in what was the Nazi Ministry of Propaganda of Josef Goebels, and that of Finance in which he had occupied the Aviation Department.

It took eight years of preparations and 10,000 million euros to house newcomers. The remodeling of the government district was parallel to the construction of new concrete, steel and glass buildings next to the Spree River.

To the social democrat Gerhard Schröder He was given the honor of releasing the new Chancellery – supported Die waschine, the washing machine, for remembering that appliance. But first he had to settle in a temporary residence among unmade prefabricated homes.

In what had been no man's land at the time of the wall, the new Potsdamer Platz emerged, a complex of multiplexes, restaurants and shopping centers. Mitte, the center of the former east sector, was the territory chosen for entrepreneurs, clubs and premises for customers with a high purchasing level.

Gentrification threatens

The great landing of the civil service was consumed in 1999. At that time the word gentrification was not yet in everyone's mouth. But probably at that time his birth certificate corresponds, in regard to the Berlin citizen perception.

Berlin was "turned upside down" indefinitely, not only in the center of the city. Also neighborhoods of alternative, revolutionary and multi-ethnic tradition such as Kreuzberg, in the west, they became a coveted piece for the new tenancy.

Prenzlauerberg Y Friedrichshain, in the former communist sector, they were converted in trendy neighborhoods for night owls and at the mercy of real estate capitalism. In the east or west, the neighborhood of a lifetime had no choice but to move to more peripheral neighborhoods. And as soon as they reached those, think about the next transfer to the next periphery.

Berlin was the new city of European prodigies. A capital "poor, but sexy", in definition of who was its mayor between 2001 and 2011, the social democrat Klaus Wowereit.

Last September the authorities bought 6,000 apartments from a large real estate company for 920 million euros in an initiative aimed at expanding the social housing stock, at a time when the rental price has become one of the main concerns.

The population of Berlin has increased by 12%, to 3.75 million, in the last ten years, a period of time in which the average rental price has doubled.

Precisely, to prevent prices from continuing to rise, the most recent measure is controversial. bill to freeze rents for five years and also set a cap of the price of rental housing of 9.80 euros per square meter for buildings built before 2014. The German Government intends to prevent Berlin from becoming a new London or Paris.

Berlin resists

The recovered German capital had attracted architects like Norman Foster, Rafael Moneo, David Chipperfield, Daniel Libeskind, Santiago Calatrava, Renzo Piano, Isozaki Arata or Peter Eisenman.

Some transmuted the scars left by war on their Museum Island into beautiful; others drew bridges, built a new city where the Death Strip ran or was commissioned to rebuild the Prussian Imperial Palace destroyed by the Allied bombings and demolished by communist Germany.

Berlin did not forget the memory of its tortured history. He found space to place the 2,711 concrete columns to remember the millions of Jews Holocaust victims. Al Tiergarten, the green lung of the city, monuments were incorporated into other groups of victims, such as gypsies and homosexuals.

Meanwhile both urban and monumental transfer some identity signs of the eastern citizen fell. One of them, the Palast der Republik, the People's Chamber of Communist Germany, afflicted with the evil of asbestos and dismantled piece by piece after a long debate.

The Berlin of prodigiously low rents was engulfed by the urban, political and social revolution. The price of housing, rental or property, newly built or not, skyrocketed. Precariousness appeared.

The citizen suffers the consequences. But it resists, as it did to the Allied bombings or the trauma of the wall.

And the airport?

When the wall fell, Berlin had three operating airports: Schönefeld, in the east, Tegel, in the west and Tempelhof, in full urban case. The latter was taken out of service in 2008, after 80 years of operation; its tracks are now a citizen park that some use to launch kites on the fly, others to skate or run, others for Sunday barbecue or to walk the dog.

Schönefeld Y Tegel, both obsolete, are still active. They have no other, since one of the tasks that Berlin has failed to complete successfully is to open the large airport that should relieve them.

Its opening date has been updated repeatedly, on one occasion, 24 hours before the inauguration already scheduled; its premiere is now in October 2020.

If achieved, it will have been nine years late on the planned date and after a long curriculum of technical problems and cost overrun scandals.

It is the great pending piece, or the big lamp, for a capital and a citizenship that they carry the "under construction" sign stoically well.