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Ernst-Thälmann-Park
© tic / Friedel Kantaut

Ernst-Thälmann-Park

The housing estate was built in 1986 as a showpiece for the conception of “socialist living”. The building complex is built with concrete sections with over 1300 flats for 4000 residents, parks with ponds and play areas for children, an indoor swimming pool and the buildings of a former gas work.

There used to be the IV. Berliner gas works on the site. It produced gas for the lighting for the fast growing industry in Berlin and for the supply to private households. Between 1882 and 1908 there were six huge gas storage containers (Gasometer) added to the existing ones. Dust and soot burdened the residents in the surrounding housing estates for generations.
 
There were already plans to close the gas work in the 1930’s. In 1981 the production of gas was stopped and the construction of the estate and the recreation area was agreed. When building the housing estate 90,000 cubic metres of for 100 years of contaminated ground had to be removed. Protests by the neighbours against the demolition of the gas works wanted it to stay as a technical memorial. But they could not stop the blowing-up in 1984. The old buildings of the former house with the gas meters and the administration building of the gas work are in use for cultural events since 1986.
Thispark area, today is known as the Cultural Area ErnstThälmannPark,is found under the address Danziger Straße 101 andincludes the theater under the roof, the gallery on the ground floor, the event house WABE, the art workshopsand the youth theater. The Zeiss major planetarium in the Prenzlauer Allee is the most modern science theater in Europe.
 
 
The Thälmann-monument officially opened in 1988 on the corner Greifswalder Strasse / Danziger Strasse was made from the Russian sculptor Lew Kerbel (1917-2003) by order of the SED-political office. Ernst Thälmann the dock and transport worker from Hamburg became head of the communist party Germany (KPD) and of the KPD- defence-organisation Roter Frontkämpferbund (RFB) (red front fighter alliance), their members used to greet each other with clenched fist and the word “Rotfront”. Ernst Thälmann was decisively responsible for the Stalinist line of his party. After the KPD got banned in 1933 the member of parliament got killed in the concentration camp Buchenwald in 1944 after being imprisoned by the Nazis for eleven years. After the fall of the GDR in 1990 an intense debate about the demolition, upkeep or change of the monument began. Two columns out of bronze with texts from Ernst Thälmann and Erich Honecker were removed and in 1993 a commission of the Berlin senate recommended the demolition of the building. A decision to dismantle the building and to change the ground into a park and to honour Thälmann in an adequate way was declined because of the high costs. Since 1995 the bronze statue was registered as a protected historical monument.

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