Thursday, January 21, 2010

Berlin Germany - Kongresshalle

Martin and Werner had a good time in Berlin in 1959. Although the Berlin Wall had not been built yet, the city was divided into eastern and western sectors, with the western sector controlled by the Western Allies (USA, U.K., and France) and the eastern sector controlled by the Soviet Union.

Martin writes:
I am enjoying my visit to the capitol of the Fatherland as Herr Langer is escorting and chaufering me thru both east and west sectors. Werner was stopped by the Russians for speeding but I managed to get him released from a trip to Siberia. Hope you are still going great in the printing business and that there is a lot of sunshine in Chgo. so you can get a good tan!
Martin and Werner

It's not surprising that Martin chose a postcard with a picture of the Kongresshalle (Congress Hall.) At that time, the wildly popular building was on just about every postcard, as it had recently been presented to West Berlin by the American government and was a great source of pride. The building was designed by U.S. architect, Hugh Stubbins. Since Stubbins had worked as an assistant to Walter Gropius, the building was viewed as a fusion of American and German modernism. For many, the Kongresshalle served as a symbol of renewed friendship between Germany and America, even though some referred to the building as the pregnant oyster.

In 1980,  part of the Kongresshalle's roof collapsed, killing one person and injuring several others. It turns out that the German authorities had rejected the suspension roof originally planned by the Americans.  The auxiliary construction they used instead became fatigued from the massive weight and finally failed.  Don't be afraid to visit now though; when the building was reconstructed, it was built to the original specification.


  1. Oh ja, die schwngere Auster kann man noch besichtigen. Das mit dem Deckeneinsturz wusste ich gar nicht. Ich war damals wohl noch zu jung um mich für das Tagesgeschehen zu interressieren.

  2. That design must have been quite influential for other American architects. Some similar designs are still in use locally. Thanks for an interesting post.



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