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Development of Urban Green Space in East Berlin, 1948 to 1990

In 1950 Lingner left the city government. The Main Department of Green-Space Planning was dissolved as part of an administrative reform, and the borough departments of public gardens were downgraded to offices for the city parks. A City Public Gardens Department was reestablished in 1960, due to the problems that had arisen, and Dr. Helmut Lichey appointed to head it as city public gardens director. Lichey’s efforts also lead to the reestablishment of public gardens departments in the boroughs, which however increasingly had only control and contracting functions. Care and maintenance were in time transferred to the Urban Green Space VEB (state-owned company). After Lichey left office, the city government in 1975 appointed Gottfried Funeck as director of the department. Funeck was dismissed in the middle of 1990 and the management of the City Public Gardens Department was transferred to Dr. Hans Georg Büchner.

The following planning measures and stipulations are of essential importance for the urban development in the eastern part of the city, including the development of the open-space system:

1949: The General Reconstruction Plan drafted by members of the Scharoun collective who had remained in East Berlin, marks the beginning of parallel planning in the separate parts of the city
1950: The Reconstruction Law and the Sixteen Principles of Urban Construction
1952: Appeal by the Central Committee of the Communist Party (SED) “For the Reconstruction of Berlin”; Beginning of the work of the National Reconstruction Committee (NAW), with the Stalin-Allee complex as the most important structural result
1958: “Foundation of the Planning for the Socialist Transformation of the Capital Berlin”
1961: “Plan for the Construction of the Center of the Capital of the German Democratic Republic”
1969: General Construction Plan and General Traffic Plan, with the Plan for the Green and Recreational System
1979: General Construction Plan for the period through 1990
1989: Land-use plans for 1990-1995 and for the period after 1995

The following essential phases mark the development of the urban green spaces in East Berlin:

To 1950

Until the beginning of the ’50s, tasks were addressed under Lingner’s management that resulted directly or indirectly from the effects of the war:

  • Elimination of the rubble; the rubble-mountain concept, including a planting concept with the goal of raising the heights at the edge of the glacial spillway, in order to accentuate the landscape (bunker hills in the Friedrichshain, the Oderbruchstraße landfill, the Biesdorfer Berg literally, Biesdorf Mountain)
  • Temporary greening of cleared-out plots
  • Restoration or new landscaping of formerly greened city squares, including Dönhofplatz, Kollwitzplatz (Lingner, Waschnek); Nordmarkplatz, Helmholtzplatz (Lingner, Matthes), and Teutoburger Platz (Lingner, Greiner)
  • New design of the Volkspark Friedrichshain with rubble mountains, and of the Stadtpark Lichtenberg (Lichtenberg City Park); greening of the Pankeaue (meadows along narrow Panke river)
  • New construction of the Friedrichsfelde Memorial, (Lingner, Mucke, Jenner)
  • Design of the Schlosspark Niederschönhausen (Niederschönhausen Palace Park, (Lingner)

At this time, the Soviet soldiers’ cemeteries designed as memorials were also built, in Treptower Park, (Belopolski, Wutschetitsch, Gorpenko, Walerius) and Schönholzer Heide (Schönholz Heath), (Solowjew, Belarenzew, Koroljew, Perschudtschew).

1950 to 1970

After 1950, the main focus was also on the reconstruction of sports facilities and the Pionierpark in the Wuhlheide (Lingner), as places for national and international youth meetings.

Especially in the second half of the fifties, projects designed to overcome the results of separation, or infrastructural deficits, were implemented, e.g., the Tierpark Friedrichsfelde, (Graffunder, Bendig, Köster), the Volkspark Weinbergsweg (Weinbergsweg Public Park), (Kruse), the Freibad Pankow (Pankow Swimming Pool), (Hinkefuss, Graffunder), Childrens’ Swimming Pool in Monbijoupark (Hinkefuss, Graffunder), and the Müggelsee beach bathing area.

After the very costly housing in the Stalinallee, much simpler residential areas were built in the glacial spillway which were in accordance with the Charter of Athens, mostly on former bombed-out areas or on allotment-garden land, including the residential areas along Heinrich-Heine-Straße and at the Upper Spree, as well as in Plänterwald, Adlershof and Johannistal. These residential areas were distinguished by broad open spaces and low inhabitant density. The landscaping was extraordinarily Spartan, and during this period was limited to what was seen as absolutely necessary.

During the late ’50s and early ’60s, the reconstruction of the inner city began, with more ambitious open-space designs in and around Karl-Marx-Allee west of Strausberger Platz (Matthes, Horn).

In addition to the residential green space which dominated green-space construction, some public-green facilities, as well as facilities with a greater decorative effect, were also built: These included the transformation/reconstruction of the Bürgerpark in Pankow (Pankow Citizens’ Park) (Stein), Schlossinsel in Köpenick (Köpenick Castle Island), (Lichey), and Strausberger Platz, including the Kühn Fountain (Rühle), and also the facilities at the Opera Cafe on Unter den Linden, (Rühle). The construction of the downtown area around Alexanderplatz and up to Leipziger Straße was addressed, with the creation of considerable open spaces, especially around Alexanderplatz (Matthes, Rühle, Horn).

During the second half of the sixties, a number of well-greened residential areas were built in the city, including Fischerinsel (Fisher Island), Leninplatz (Stefke, Horn, Lobst), Mellenseestraße, and Frankfurter-Allee-Süd (Peldszus).

1970 to 1990

During the early ’70s, a major new housing construction program was initiated, primarily on former sewage farms in the northeast of the city, including Greifswalder Straße (Stamatov), Fennpfuhl, (Horn), Leninallee, Marzahn (Behr, Rühle, Buck, Strauss, Rühle, Stefke, Foth, Stamatov), Hohenschönhausen (Wilcke, Stefke, Voges), Buch (Wilcke, Stamatov, Behr, Peldszus), Hellersdorf (Behr, Kadzioch, others), along with a small housing-modernization program, primarily in Mitte and Prenzlauer Berg, on Arkonaplatz and Arnimplatz (Schultz). These areas were planned in a “complex” process, with residential green, open spaces at day-care centers, kindergartens and schools, and recreation centers, sports facilities, neighborhood centers and green roadway elements. These projects demanded most of the financial and material resources available for green-space construction of the city and of the country until the end of this period.

In the Urban Construction Office, parks were planned by landscape architects in the context of these residential areas and as essential components of them; generally, they were reserved as surfaces for future green developments. These included the Wuhlepark, the Wohngebietspark Marzahn (Marzahn Residential-Area Park), the park along the Hönow chain of ponds, the Wartenberger/Falkenberger Luch, the Volkspark Malchower See (Malchow Lake Public Park), the Botanischer Garten Blankenfelde (Blankenfelde Botanical Garden), the Volkspark Karower Teiche (Karow Ponds Public Park), the Erholungsgebiet Kaulsdorfer Seen (Kaulsdorf Lake Recreation Area) and the Erholungsgebiet Arkenberge (Arkenberge Recreation Area). In the spirit of Lingner, necessary rubble dumps were incorporated into future recreational areas (Wuhletal, Malchow, Arkenberge). The site authorizations were connected with stipulations for their use-appropriate design, as the prerequisite for planting and later expansion to form recreational landscapes. Largely in the context of politically representative displays of the state and cultural celebration, a few “independent” green spaces were created, which were however located at sites long-since ear-marked for green development in the urban and landscape planning context. These included the Pionierpalast Wuhlheide (Wuhlheide Pioneer Palace) (now the FEZ) (Matthes), the Sport- und Erholungszentrum Friedrichshain (Friedrichshain Sports and Recreation Center), (Mertel), the Ernst-Thälmann-Park (Büchner, Stefke), the Marx-Engels-Forum (Stamatov, Viegas), Bertold-Brecht-Platz, and the Berliner Gartenschau (Berlin Garden Show) at the Kienberg in Marzahn, (Funeck, Schultz).

In 1982, in the context of intra-German cultural exchange, the exhibition “Stadt Park – Park Stadt/Eine Ausstellung aus der Bundesrepublik Deutschland” (“City Park – Park City: An Exhibition from the Federal Republic of Germany”) was held at the Fernsehturm (TV Tower). This exhibition sparked a significant public debate on the issue of courtyards and courtyard greening of imperial-era buildings in East Germany. Within three years, 10,000 courtyards were to be beautified in Berlin. The campaign was run by the departments of public gardens under the slogan: “Wir machen den Höfen den Hof.” (“We’re courting the courtyards.”) In support of the campaign, the City Public Gardens Department published a brochure with ideas and instructions for the campaign. The results varied considerably, essentially depending on the commitment of those involved.