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Without End Beginning. On the Transformation of the Socialist City

The upheaval of 1989/90 meant a deep caesura for many cities in eastern Germany. The type of socialist city with its socialized forms of working, living and housing collided with the dismantling of industry and the ideals of an individualized experience society. Declining birth rates and migration are leading to shrinking residential areas, demolitions and a thoroughgoing urban redevelopment.

Plattenbau in Schwedt, 2021
Plattenbau in Schwedt, 2021 © Martin Maleschka

How will these cities be able to hold their own in the future? Does their crisis also hold opportunities, does their particular history even contain an inherent logic with potential for the future? The Museum of Utopia and Everyday Life invites visitors to reflect on these questions together.

The example of Eisenhüttenstadt is particularly suitable for this purpose: Founded 70 years ago in a peripheral location, as it were on virgin soil, Eisenhüttenstadt is tailored to the needs of a socialist society as a "city of a new type": with generously dimensioned social spaces and with elaborate architecture. A few months earlier, construction begins on the Eisenhüttenkombinat Ost (Ironworks Combine East), which is assigned a key role in the heavy industry of the new state.

The exhibition continues to focus on two comparative examples: Nowa Huta, like Eisenhüttenstadt planned as a new city in Stalin's Ara, but as part of a metropolitan region, and Schwedt, developed into an industrial city from 1960 with prefabricated housing quarters and later the birthplace and laboratory of urban redevelopment.

The exhibits include urban plans, models, photographs, including both historical and currently manufactured material.
The exhibition is accompanied by the installation DDR Noir by artist Henrike Naumann.
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