Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools

Navigation

The New Berlin

Memory, Politics, Place

2005
Author:

Karen E. Till

The New Berlin

An innovative exploration of German memory, national identity, and modernity

Four locations frame The New Berlin: the Topography of Terror, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, the Jewish Museum, and Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp Memorial and Museum. Through field notes, interviews, archival texts, personal narratives, public art, maps, images, and other sources, Karen Till describes how these places and spaces exemplify the contradictions and tensions of social memory and national identity.

The New Berlin is an insightful and articulate study on the remaking of Berlin as a microcosm of debates about memory at this moment in history.

Marita Sturken, Annenberg School of Communication, University of Southern California

The New Berlin reveals a city haunted by ghosts from difficult pasts and “remembered futures,” a place where past, present, and future collide in unexpected ways as individuals and groups search for what it means to be German. Karen Till skillfully moves through the spaces and times of a city marked by voids, ruins, and construction cranes to search through material and affective landscapes of intentional forgetting and painful remembering. In doing so, she deepens our understanding of the practice and politics of place making—and of how particular places embody and narrate distinct national pasts and futures, stories of belonging, and the absences and presences of social memory-work.

Four locations frame The New Berlin: the Topography of Terror, the much-debated Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, the Jewish Museum, and the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp Memorial and Museum. Through these and other sites, we encounter people unexpectedly colliding with and evoking ghosts from multiple Berlins as they dig through social and material landscapes, claim public spaces, market the city, go on tours, or debate what national past should be remembered, for whom, where, and in what form. Through a complex interweaving of field notes, interviews, archival texts, personal narratives, public art, maps, images, and other sources, Till deftly describes how these places and spaces uniquely exemplify the contradictions and tensions of social memory and national identity in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.

Highlighting an interdisciplinary “geo-ethnographic” and nonlinear temporal approach to place making and memory in postunification Germany, The New Berlin introduces readers to people confronting loss and past injustices amid the construction sites and ghosts of the contemporary city.

The New Berlin

Karen E. Till is senior lecturer of geography at Royal Holloway, University of London, and co-director of the Space and Place Research Collective at the Institute of Global Studies, University of Minnesota.

The New Berlin

The New Berlin is an insightful and articulate study on the remaking of Berlin as a microcosm of debates about memory at this moment in history.

Marita Sturken, Annenberg School of Communication, University of Southern California

The New Berlin is a notable contribution to human geography and to the interdisciplinary literature on social memory and place making. Till’s methods and scholarship have provided the conceptual groundwork for the exploration and development of place making, social memory, and spatial haunting through the particular practices and politics of the new Berlin. Her readable style is marked by a narrative economy in which every word and sentence serves the larger purposes of the book. I recommend this book to anyone—student, scholar, or practitioner—who is interested in the social dynamics of memory formation and place making.

Professional Geographer

This book is a well-written ‘first-hand’ account, though it also thoroughly covers academic literature, contemporary news accounts, and archival records.

German Studies Review

Karen E. Till’s The New Berlin describes the modern metropolis and the ghosts of the past that it has to deal with.

German World

Well illustrated and copiously footnoted, this is a cutting-edge study of the power of identity-construction/analysis. Highly recommended.

Choice

The New Berlin

Contents

Acknowledgments

A Fence

1. Hauntings, Memory, Place A Metro Stop 25
2. The New Berlin: From Kiez to Kosmos A Flyer 59
3. The Gestapo Terrain: Landscape, Digging, Open Wounds Fieldnotes 107
4. Berlin’s Ort der Täter: A Historic Site of Perpetrators A Neighborhood 155
5. Aestheticizing the Rupture: Berlin’s Holocaust Memorial A Newspaper Article 189
6. Memory in the New Berlin

Notes

Index