MUSEUMS & GALLERIES
There's no better place than Berlin to experience the remnants of the Cold War, says Solveig Steinhardt.
Martin Roemers' Relics of the Cold War at Deutsches Historisches Museum.
What remains of the Cold War? Parts of the Berlin Wall, of course, but more than that. The nuclear threats of the Atomic Era, which stimulated the imaginations of a whole generation of science-fiction filmmakers on the other side of the ocean, had a much more sinister effect in Eastern Europe, where bunkers, military stations, watchtowers, border control stations, minefields, and futuristic monuments served despotic regimes that seemed to constantly be on the verge of war. Dutch photographer and World Press Photo winner Martin Roemers has spent 10 years examining this historic period and documenting its traces before they are permanently swept away by time. This month, the Deutsches Historisches
Museum (p. 42) presents Roemers' shots of abandoned military structures around the Eastern Bloc in the exhibition Relics of the Cold
War, which includes images of Soviet cemeteries, rusty tanks, old bomb shelters in the middle of the Baltic sea, and entire fields of army waste.
The Deutsches Historisches Museum provides a good introduction to the Cold War theme, but if you want to get an in-depth overview of its historic context, visit the Cold
War Black Box on Friedrichstraße (www.bfgg. de), which walks visitors through the events that led to the rise and fall of the Iron Curtain and analyzes of what the political situations in the other Communist countries.
To West Berliners in particular, all this meant not only being surrounded by a Wall but also being occupied by the military forces of the Allied powers, which protected the city from the supposedly imminent attack. For additional protection, West Berlin renovated old WWII bomb shelters and built new underground bunkers that could host a large portion of the population in the event of a World War III. One of them, situated near Pankstraße in Wedding, was built in 1977 as a multi-purpose structure to serve as an U-Bahn stop in time of peace and as a bunker for more than 3000 people in emergencies. This and other bunkers can be visited by booking a tour with Berliner
Unterwelten (www.berliner-unterwelten.de), while the presence of U.S., French, and British soldiers and their interactions with the population are documented at the Allied
Museum (www.alliiertenmuseum.de) in Zehlendorf, also featuring an old
Rosinenbomber aircraft used in the 1948 Berlin Airlift, a piece of the Wall, an American watchtower, and the original Checkpoint Charlie guardhouse.
Top: the Allied Museum; Far left: an abandoned hospital in Juterbog; Center: a Soviet monument in Soliniwi; This photo: a Communist-era meeting room.
A U.S. Army CARE package (Allied Museum)