Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Durs Grünbein on the Palace of the Republic

The poet Durs Grünbein has penned his own epitaph to East Berlin's former people's palace, the Palast der Republik - the parliament building complete with bowling alley, theatre and restaurants. Published in the right-of-centre Berlin daily Die Welt, it's a (mostly) rhyming ode to the hypocrisy of the GDR's apparatchiks embodied in architecture. You can almost hear Grünbein rubbing his hands in glee that the building is no more.

No doubt it will prompt some debate. What Wikipedia refers to as "some minor resentment felt by some East Germans" over the palace's demolition is still boiling over, even though the process is all but complete (you can watch the progress here). What seems to have got many people's goats is that they're planning to replace it with a reconstruction of the former Hohenzollern palace - although the inside will be a shopping mall rather than a royal residence. The NY Times ran a rather opinionated piece on the issue recently that had Americans here in Berlin spitting bile (although mainly over the author's rejection of the closure of the inner-city airport at Tempelhof).

Die Welt, as anyone who knows the paper will imagine, is firmly on the side of the demolition men - meaning that Grünbein is making no bones about his own stance on this surprisingly controversial topic by publishing his poem right there.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Or that graffiti on barh-room stall walls favors rhymed stanzas.

Chuckie K

leigh-anne said...

I'm looking for english translations beyond "ashes for breakfast" by Durs Grunbein ... do you know of any?

thanks!
leighanne.legault@gmail.com

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