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Eric Fichtl

Germany

<p>An arch of stars stretches across the heavens in a dark sky area in Germany.<br /></p>
<p>Small details in woodlands near Buckow, Germany.</p>
<p>The platform at Schönhauser Allee S-bahn station. </p>
<p>Fresh temptation in a bakery window.<br /></p>
<p>Fields near Obersdorf create an abstract intersecting pattern.</p>
<p>Cherry blossoms in bloom in Berlin. <br /></p>
<p>The swirling background comes from a fantastic old lens, the Asahi SMC Takumar 135/f3.5. </p>
<p>With the camera positioned just so, this neoclassical cupola appears to sit proportionally atop a modernist base in the heart of Potsdam. It kind of works. <br /></p>
<p>They are, though, two separate buildings. The dome belongs to the St. Nicholas Church, which dates from the mid 19th Century when Potsdam was part of the Kingdom of Prussia. In the foreground is the facade of the Institut für Lehrerbildung 'Rosa Luxemburg', a teacher training academy built in the 1970s when Potsdam was part of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany).</p>
<p>This view no longer exists. <br /></p>
<p>A 2010 decision by Potsdam city officials ordered the dismantling of the Institut, which duly occurred in 2017. It is to be replaced by a new structure that will recreate the facade of Prussian palace while masking a contemporary interior – the rationale being to create an architecturally harmonious setting on a key central square. <br /></p>
<p>Sound familiar? Berlin also recently opted to remove the DDR-era modernist Palast der Republik (itself built on the site of a Prussian palace the East German government had demolished for its symbolic associations with the imperial past) and erect a simulacrum Prussian palace (the Humboldt Forum project). </p>
<p>These decisions – which evoke one history while erasing another – are a continuation of Germany's highly contested reckoning with its past, as Brian Ladd explores in his excellent book, <em>Ghosts of Berlin: Confronting German History in the Urban Landscape</em>. For some, the frequent consensus for neoclassical lines among politicians and urban planners is a canny dodge reflecting a certain conservatism – it seeks to escape the extremes of the 20th Century (including their manifestations in architecture) by locating historically safe ground in the perceived unity of the imperial Germany of the Kaisers. But that preference is a hagiographic illusion (the clue is in the word 'imperial'), and opts for an allegorical amnesia over a challenging architectural response to the complexity of the German experience. <br /></p>
<p>There is something incredibly uninspired (not to say regressive) about rebuilding long-gone imperial palaces on sites where the ground is both hallowed and historically contested. And as beautiful as neoclassical facades may be (and Berlin and Potsdam have plenty of them to show off), as 21st Century new-builds they are dated symbols that fail equally at capturing nuanced historic legacy and at presenting the forward-looking aspects of contemporary German society. </p>
<p>Snow-coated branches intermingle ad infinitum.</p>
<p>Farm fields in subdued light early on a Christmas morning.</p>
<p>Faint snow falls over rolling hills in the Märkische Schweiz region.</p>
<p>A tall oak and other trees coated just perfectly during a rare Berlin snowfall. <br /></p>
<p>As I took this picture, a woman walking her dog passed by and said 'No one will ever believe those pictures are from Berlin'. Fair point.</p>
<p>Designed by Paul Ludwig Troost in the 1930s as a showpiece for the Nazis' brand of stripped-down neo-classical architecture, this Munich museum's inaugural show was the 'Great German Art Exhibition' in 1937 – a regime-approved counterpart to the infamous 'Degenerate Art Exhibition' the party arranged nearby, where contemporary works confiscated by the Nazis were put on scornful display. <br /></p>
<p>While the 'great' exhibit featured a who's who list of names you've almost certainly never heard, many of those at the 'degenerate' show are among the 20th Century's most venerated artists. Further proof Hitler sucked at art.<br /></p>
<p>Happily repudiating its origins, the Haus der Kunst subsequently became a venue for contemporary art exhibitions from around the world.</p>
<p>Strange skies over Berlin on 12 July 2020.</p>
<p>St. Mary's church in the northern German city of Stralsund is an example of brick gothic architecture. It dates back to the 14th Century. This is the church's facade, leading up to a 104 metre bell tower (out of view).</p>
<p>This mural on the wall of a squat is part of the Giant Storybook Project by Herakut, a street art duo from Berlin.</p>
<p>Barberries provide a burst of colour in the winter. At least, I think they're barberries (I didn't do a taste test).<br /></p>
<p>A view of spires and towers in Quedlinburg on a winter's day.</p>
<p>Sheep graze near Cape Arkona, on the German island of Rügen.</p>
<p>Window-shopping on a winter evening in Maxvorstadt.</p>
<p>A view over Munich. Shot from the Monopteros in the Englischer Garten park, the city's skyline is punctuated by church spires.</p>
<p>A confident claim in an alcove along the Spree.<br /></p>
<p>Cologne's Ebertplatz shows its 1970s urban design, provoking the usual love-hate response. While the dark corners of its pedestrian underpasses have raised concerns about crime and safety, these recesses also host art galleries and restaurants (like this Nigerian place).</p>
<p>Looking down a street toward Munich's Frauenkirche.</p>
<p>The unique contours of the Munich Olympic Stadium, designed by architect Günther Behnisch and engineer Frei Otto for the summer games of 1972. The famous suspended roof — a vast tent of glass panels held aloft by steel cables and pillars — still looks futuristic almost 50 years after it was erected. </p>
<p>A sign with nothing to say.</p>
<p>Rowers power through the waters of Köpenick.<br /></p>
<p>Red stars (not that kind) at a Christmas market in Berlin.</p>
<p>An inviting trail.<br /></p>
<p>An announcement board on a disused platform at Ostkreuz station, Berlin.</p>
<p>A family walks through the fields outside Marktoberdorf, Bavaria.</p>
<p>A characterful old house in the Hanseatic city of Stralsund.</p>
<p>Remnants of a former bakery in Berlin.</p>
<p>Hannover's landmark Anzeiger-Hochhaus is one of Germany's first high-rise buildings. Clad in brick over an underlying steel frame, it dates from 1927 and was designed by Fritz Höger. It has long housed the editorial offices of local media outlets, and survived the aerial bombardment that leveled much of the city centre during the Second World War. </p>
<p>Golden hour and some dirty plate glass windows make for a dramatic train platform.<br /></p>
<p>During the Covid-19 lockdown of 2020, display cases outside the Kino International promise that film screenings are 'to be continued'.<br /></p>
<p>A Stolperstein (stumbling stone) embedded in the pavement outside a flat in Berlin. <br /></p>
<p>Begun in the 1990s by German artist Gunter Demnig, the Stolpersteine mark the last place of residence of those persecuted by the Nazi regime and share basic details of that person's life. Over 75,000 Stolpersteine have been placed in numerous countries, and the project continues. This one reads:</p>
<p><em>Here lived Gertrud Baruch.<br />Born in 1876.<br />Deported 24 Oct 1941 to Łódź / Litzmannstadt. <br />Murdered 4 May 1942.</em><br /> </p>
<p>You can almost feel the bumps in that wired glass.</p>
<p>A walk in a forest reveals a sort of swamp amid the trees. <br /></p>
<p>Low-hanging branches and leaves form a quiet chamber in the St.-Elisabeth-Kirchhof, a cemetery in Berlin. </p>
<p>Potential spoiler for that one person who doesn't know the plot point.</p>
<p>The surface of a Berlin lake alive with movement.</p>
<p>Skylights and the zig-zagging roof at the Arminius Markthalle, a covered market dating from the 1890s.</p>
<p>A gang of miniature Beethovens wait to be placed in formation by a worker. Part of Bonn's commemoration of the 250th anniversary of its famous son's birth, the Beethoven statues were later put up for 'adoption'. I like mine very much. </p>
<p>Buildings refracted through droplets of condensation in a window create a kaleidoscope.</p>
<p>People wait for a burst from the mysterious geyser that amused and befuddled visitors to Berlin's Schlossplatz in 2009.</p>
<p>This cultural centre on the banks of the Spree was designed by Hugh Stubbins and built in 1957. Its distinctive shape earned it an odd nickname: the pregnant oyster.</p>
<p>Jamaica's Usain Bolt blazes to a new (and still) world record time of 9.58 seconds in the men's 100m sprint at the 12th IAAF World Championships in Berlin's Olympiastadion. Yes, it's hard to take pictures of people that run this fast...<br /></p>
<p>Britain's Nicola Sanders runs the anchor leg of the women's 4x400m final at the 12th IAAF World Championships, at Berlin's Olympiastadion. Initially finishing fourth, the British team was later upgraded to bronze after the Russians were disqualified for doping.<br /></p>
<p>Berlin's Olympic Stadium was roofless when it hosted the 1936 Games, but during renovations in 2004 a seemingly floating roof was added to cover all 74,475 seats in the stadium (which, despite its age, still has Germany's highest all-seater capacity). The roof conceals clever lighting that creates no discernible shadows on the pitch.</p>
<p>The undulating facade of Brandenburg Technical University's hi-tech IKMZ media library, designed by Herzog & de Meuron.</p>
<p>Flagbearers watching the warm-ups at a 2009 match between Energie Cottbus and Hertha BSC in the Stadion der Freundschaft.<br /></p>
<p>Weather-worn bricks decay on a building in Cottbus. <br /></p>
<p>Umm, right.<br /></p>
<p>The warm and well-worn interior of the Spiegelsaal at Clärchens Ballhaus, a beloved venue in Berlin.</p>
<p>The vast Theresienwiese in Munich, sans Oktoberfest trimmings.</p>