Опасная зона

Опасная зона

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Dresden I - A Wave of Capitalism

Yes, I finally bought myself a new camera, a Nikon D3100 with a 18-55 VR lens, which was recommended by several people. I got it just in time before I continued my tour across Europe. After finishing my work at CERN, Geneva and visiting Brussels, I went to Dresden and Bratislava, and wanted to do Berlin. Tour ended rather chaotic though:
  • checking into a Hotel in Bratislava, I realized I left my passport in Aarhus. I've been crossing 4 countries with no passport. (I will not refer to the concurrent Danish-German border issues here.)
  • going back from Bratislava to Dresden: Slovakian train conductor checks my ticket, says it's no good. I need a new one. I protest, but have to pay. A bit later new Czech train conductor arrives, says again ticket is no good. Ticket from Slovak colleague is also no good, even after heavy protests, I have to pay again.
  • In Dresden I also lost my fairly new mobile phone. It was a HTC Desire, and what really bugs me is all the data which is gone with it. Of course, I did not encrypt it. Wish it was my laptop which got lost, which is fully encrypted. (Tracing it from phone company not allowed. Weird: after all those apps which main purpose is to trace where you are and what you do. But if I want to access my own data...!? Wtf!)
  • Last day in Bratislava I got a bad flu, which still persists. This made me cancel the Berlin part and a course I wanted to follow in Mainz.
  • One credit card was recently lost in Brussels, another forgotten in Aarhus, my last one hit the VISA 30 day limit the last day of my travels. So, suddenly I was in Dresden with no credit cards and almost no cash! Never felt so free...
Anyway, what I wanted to tell about was how the face of Dresden radically changed since 1989. Former chancellor Helmut Kohl was speaking of "Blühende Landschaften", which characterize this transformation process, but note the subtle double meaning of it, as it also can refer to nature taking over deindustrialized and depopulated areas. :-D

Dresden was more or less obliterated at the end of the second world war, and much of the voidness was filled with socialistic type architecture. Just north of the main railway station there is the Prager Straße, which more or less looked like this in 1986:

Prager Straße, 1986, with the "Inter Hotel" and the "Restaurant International".
Taken from http://flic.kr/p/4A6gVS

More or less the same buildings are there, however massively renovated and now full of "standard shops" you find in any city in Germany.
Prager Straße, 2011.

A few more impressions:

Prager Straße 1991. From: http://www.flickr.com/photos/eastgermanpics/2197012589/in/photostream/

Same street 2011, guess the fountain was turned and moved a bit further to the north.

Prager Strasse 1991: Aluminum padded building which served as a central store.

Panels were partially reused for a new building.

Over the socialistic soviet-style reminiscences, a wave of capitalism crushed, cladding the dilapidated buildings with its usual representatives: Karstadt, Douglas, Jack Wolfskin, McDonalds, Deutsche Bank, Esprit... they are all there, effectively removing any uniqueness, rendering the shopping street identical with that in Frankfurt, Stuttgart or any other medium sized town.

I searched for a few remanences which still prevail from socialistic times. Some are easy to find, but they get less:
A crystal tree at Pirnaisches Tor.
Robotron was the chip and computer manufacturing company of the former GDR.
Blühende Landschaften, in its other meaning. (Note the GDR typic lanterns.)
I was somewhat surprised how difficult it actually is to find some industrial wastelands. Way over 90 % of the entire city is renovated in some way, I spent an entire day on bike going through clean streets without finding what I was looking for. Even asking the locals did not really help much.
Almost all of Dresden is fully renovated, and streets look like this.
But then, after roaming the city for an entire day, I finally found somenthing:
Dresden 2011, somewhere near Zwickauer Str.
Garages with characteristic "droplet" shaped lamp.
Those lanterns are mostly mounted on poles made of concrete.
Black graffiti says: "Here a MURDER happened! A piece of art was destroyed."
Dresdner Frauenkirche, 1991.
... and again, as in 2011. That part seen in the former picture is the darker left of the church.
Another thing I really enjoyed about Dresden was how easy it was to get in contact with people. Nomatter where I were, people came to chat, and they openly discussed anything about their lives, the former GDR etc.
I had a very long chat with this guy at a flea market. Note the cylinder of mono-crystalline silicon at the lower edge in the middle of the picture. (He wanted 10 € for that.)

Reminiscences from second world war can of course also be found, this one I found interesting:
"Museum, do not bomb"
I could not understand what it said, my very limited knowledge of the Russian language only identified "Museum, do not...?", so I decided to wait next to the inscriptions until I found some Russian tourists to help me out. I only had to wait one minute, a group of young Russians gave me the answer  (I even asked in Russian, and they understood what I wanted, feel very proud :-).

Anyway, this concludes more or less the first part of my Dresden visit. Thanks to Alina for hosting, being my tour guide and holding my cup of coffee while taking the picture below.

No comments:

Post a Comment