Brandenburg’s province and Berlin – the contrasts seem so great that they drive some to despair. Others write songs of mockery. By far the best known is the legendary “Brandenburg Hymn” by Rainald Grebe. He sings of sadness, especially for young people, in contrast to the vowed “Hallelujah! Berlin! Everyone wants to go there ”.
But is that still the case – 30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall? “No and yes,” says Florentine Nadolni. “On the one hand, in view of the rampant land and rental prices, not everyone can or want to go to Berlin for a long time. On the other hand, Berlin’s conurbation, which is still booming, is contrasted with shrinking cities on the outskirts of Brandenburg – unfortunately often with the associated social and cultural deficits. “
Florentine Nadolni is the director of the “Utopia and Everyday Life” museum in Eisenhüttenstadt, which has been hosting the special exhibition “Beginning without an end. On the transformation of the socialist city ”shows. In this context, she invited to a panel discussion on Sunday, which is primarily intended to deal with the question of whether, in addition to places close to Berlin, those on the periphery of the country will also be able to benefit from the growing capital in the future.
The Eisenhüttenstadt administration is quite optimistic about this. “Our city is being noticed more and more,” says Christina Chvosta: “On the one hand, this affects the increasing numbers of tourists, but also the increased interest of young, creative people or families with many children who simply want to escape the increased cost pressure in Berlin and in the suburbs . “
The city has a lot to offer for this target group, to whom the new image campaign “Hut hat was!”, Says Christina Chvosta, who looks after potential new residents or returnees: “There is enough inexpensive living space here, regardless of whether Rental apartments or houses. “
There are also plenty of gardens, garages and day-care centers. When asked by many, “What can you do after work in Eisenhüttenstadt?”
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She is currently advising and looking after six prospective immigrants. If they choose Eisenhüttenstadt, they will not receive a financial contribution like in other cities, but they will receive a welcome folder from the residents’ registration office. More than 80 welcome folders have already been given out this year, including two to families from Berlin. They also include a ticket for a free city tour. After all, the newcomers should know that their new home was set on the sands of the Brandenburg region more than 70 years ago as a residential area for the workers of the also new Eisenhüttenkombinat Ost.
The population in Eisenhüttenstadt has halved since the fall of the Wall
In 1988 about 53,000 people lived in Eisenhüttenstadt, which was called Stalinstadt until 1961. Today there are 24,000. Of around 12,000 jobs, only around 2,500 were left in the steelworks. “We have now moved back in, but since most of the residents are older, that doesn’t make up for the death rate,” says Christina Chvosta.
In fact, a lot of cities are still shrinking in Brandenburg, says museum director Florentine Nadolni, but none as much as Eisenhüttenstadt: “It doesn’t have to stay that way.”
This is one of the reasons why she invited two scientists from the Potsdam University of Applied Sciences to the Sunday panel discussion, whose future design for the Berlin-Brandenburg interdependent area won 1st prize in the Berlin-Brandenburg International Urban Development Ideas Competition 2070. The architects Bernd Albers and Silvia Malcovati examined the sub-area “Tempelhof-Südkreuz” and “Bernau” as well as “Schwedt an der Oder” and developed corresponding proposals and visions from an urban and architectural point of view.
“Since Schwedt grew at the same rate as Eisenhüttenstadt because of the Petrochemical Combine (PCK), you can compare a lot,” says Silvia Malcovati. For example, first of all the residential buildings were built and only later or not at all the planned public facilities: “There is no real center or there are gaps and remaining areas that would have to be built on in such a way that they lead to the revitalization of the city center.”
After all, the image of a city is also considered a so-called soft location factor. Eisenhüttenstadt can score points with Tom Hanks, who is interested in urban planning, who has already visited the city twice and raved about it in front of millions of American TV viewers.
Schwedt, on the other hand, was already considered by Rainald Grebe, alongside the Cottbus entertainer Achim Menzel, to be the epitome of Brandenburg provinciality. “Hillary Clinton is at the Adlon tonight! Achim Menzel cannot find the dealership in Schwedt! ”
Infrastructure is critical
Maybe not bad – because car dealerships will play a less important role in the future anyway, the Potsdam architects agree. “Future mobility will be created by rail transport,” says Bernd Albers. The expansion of the road and motorway network – as also taken into account in the joint state development plan of Berlin and Brandenburg – does not represent a satisfactory solution against the background of the climate and energy transition. Driven by the digital turnaround, urban growth will be based on the railway lines. Bad luck for Schwedt that it is not connected to the Berlin-Stettin railway line. Lucky for Eisenhüttenstadt that the regional express 1 Magdeburg-Berlin-Frankfurt (Oder) -Cottbus runs there.
“It takes one and a half hours to get to Berlin with that – a travel time that is completely normal for commuters in other large cities such as Paris,” says Florentine Nadolni. “And because more and more people are working from home, it is also becoming more and more attractive to live in a quiet, green, small or medium-sized town instead of in a noisy, stressful big city.”
In fact, the Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Planning, Guido Beermann (CDU), presented the new strategy for urban development and housing a few days ago. It assumes that the “spatial polarization between the dynamic, increasingly dense area near Berlin and the wider metropolitan area will continue to shape the structure of Brandenburg”. Although this strengthens cities close to Berlin, it also harbors burdens and conflicts due to tense housing and real estate markets, high infrastructure requirements, for example in the social and educational sectors, as well as in passenger and freight transport.
For this reason, too, the cities located on the regional rail transport axes that approach Berlin could undertake relief functions “in the second row” and benefit particularly from the settlement of population and jobs. Although the population decline will continue in the other cities in the wider metropolitan area, positive effects from other factors such as digitization cannot be ruled out for them either.
Florentine Nadolni finds this encouraging. She firmly assumes that the area around the capital will continue to expand. And so that cities are becoming increasingly interesting that, like Eisenhüttenstadt, used to be just jottwehdeh, as the Berliner says: Janz far out.
The panel discussion “Living on the edge of the metropolis” will take place on Sunday at 2 pm in the former furniture store at Lindenallee 24 in Eisenhüttenstadt. The exhibition “Beginning without an end. On the Transformation of the Socialist City ”can be seen until May 29, 2022 in the Museum Utopia and Everyday Life in Eisenhüttenstadt. More information at www.utopieundalltag.de