On Tuesday 25 July, we'll be out and about exploring some of the rich arts, history and culture on offer in Berlin. We'll divide into smaller groups, each with a particular theme, and embark on a specially-tailored all-day programme led by local experts, including lunch in a special place.
Berlin of the Weimar Republic: An Encounter with Marlene Dietrich, Christopher Isherwood and the Grim Brothers Grimm
Guide: Brendan Nash
On our journey back in time into Berlin's most glamorous and flamboyant era, we'll initially trace the roots of Alfred Döblin’s ground-breaking 1929 novel Berlin Alexanderplatz. Then we'll case the once-seedy backstreets of Berlin’s oldest neighbourhood, discovering a square named after a Communist revolutionary, a century-old "peoples" theatre and an unfortunate soul who met a grizzly end on the steps of the Babylon Cinema. Next, we'll explore the Schöneberg neighbourhood that inspired British author Christopher Isherwood to write his Berlin diaries, which became the Oscar-winning film Cabaret. In a time of dazzling transvestite nightclubs, meet a fame-hungry chorus girl who would conquer the world and hear the ever-increasing drum-beat of far-right politics. Finally, enter the dark world of Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm’s twisted fairytales and unearth the last resting place of these greatest storytellers of all time.
Art and Democracy
Guide: Sigrid Melchior
Berlin’s south deserves a closer look: surrounded by woods and lakes, this primarily residential neighborhood was famed for its high society life from the 19th century on. But with the end of World War II and occupation by the Allied Forces, a transformation occurred. Today, the area is home to two notable institutions that encapsulate the transformation from Nazi to democratic Germany: The Allied Museum and Kunsthaus Dahlem (Dahlem Arts House). At the Allied Museum we'll hear about how enemies became friends in the 50 years of Allied presence in West Berlin. Numerous documents, photos and artifacts tell the checkered history of the Allied victory over Nazi Germany and the occupation of Berlin. In the afternoon we’ll continue with an exploration of the Kunsthaus Dahlem. Today, the building is a non-profit exhibition space for post-war art. But it started life as the State Studio of the Nazi sculptor Arno Breker. Breker was perhaps the most prolific sculptor of the Third Reich and the studio was built "at the request of the Führer". Artistic director Dr. Dorothea Schöne will give us a unique tour of this significant building, as well as its sculpture garden.
Tempelhof Airport – Now and Then
Guide: Cornelia Schwarte
Explore the myth and hidden corners of what Sir Norman Foster has called "one of the really great buildings of the modern age", and inhale the spirit of Berlin's biggest open green space, the Tempelhofer Feld. Tempelhof Airport is an expression of Nazi ideology, but also a symbol of freedom and Western democracy, due to the central role it played during the Berlin Airlift in 1948/49 when the Western Powers sustained Berlin's then 2.5 million inhabitants with the necessities of life solely with air cargo. We'll start our day discovering the cavernous insides of what was once one of the largest twenty buildings on earth, even seeing the drawings Berlin residents made on the walls of its basement rooms while sheltering from Allied bombing during World War II, as well as the indoor basketball court installed by the US Air Force after the war, and the hangars, some of which have been temporary accommodation for up to 2,500 refugees over the last two years. No longer used as a commercial airport, the building now enjoys protected status. The airfield has been left in its original condition and now forms 300 hectares of unique parkland. After a picnic lunch on the Feld, we will see how gardening cooperatives and other community initiatives have sprung up since the airport's closure, positively impacting surrounding neighbourhoods in present-day Berlin, and learn how developers' plans to build apartments on the airfield were recently thwarted by resident activism.
Cold War Berlin
Guide: Michael Dempsey
After World War II Berlin was transformed from the capital of Nazi Germany into the epicentre of the struggle to control a devastated continent. Berlin became the frontier of the Cold War, where the world's two superpowers faced off. Discover the divided city of Berlin. Retrace the often ghost-like trail of the death strip and the Berlin Wall, discovering some intriguing border fortifications, from guard towers to tank traps. Walk along Bernauer Strasse, the site of many remarkable escape attempts. Learn about successful and failed escapes from East to West Berlin in the face of an East German Border Command that would rather obey the order "shoot to kill" than allow an individual to commit the heinous crime of "flight from the Republic". See some so-called "ghost stations" - underground metro stations that could not be used while the city was divided, and a former Stasi interrogation centre. Gain an insight into what it meant to live in the German Democratic Republic, the eastern bloc’s most heavily policed state, in the decades before the Wall finally came down on that glorious night in November 1989.
Berlin During the Third Reich
Guide: Mike Stack
Berlin was shaped by the Third Reich more than any other German city. Hitler and his personal architect Albert Speer had a grand plan to turn Berlin into the capital of the world - a utopian city called Germania. Although only a fraction of this master plan was realised, a number of significant sites in present-day Berlin still serve as a grim reminder of the National Socialist period. We visit the Lustgarten (Pleasure Garden), where Hitler addressed mass rallies of up to a million people. We then continue to various sites of commemoration, before taking a closer look at the Reichstag's bloody history and transparent future. We trace the route of the Soviet attack towards the final battle for the Reichstag and stop in front of the Soviet Memorial flanked with T-34 Tanks and Red Army Howitzers while we hear about the experiences of those caught up in advance of Soviet forces. See what remains of Hitler's “Thousand-Year Reich”, including Goering's Air Defence Ministry, the Luftwaffe's coordination centre for the Battle of Britain, as well as the site of Goebbels’ Propaganda Ministry and the ruins of Himmler’s SS and Gestapo HQ at the Topography of Terror exhibition. Visit the site where Hitler's Reich Chancellery stood and the exact location of the Führer's bunker. Relive Hitler's last days in the bunker culminating in his suicide, and the tortured fate of his remains. Discover the old Bendler Block, the site of Stauffenberg's execution after the failed 20 July 1944 assassination attempt on Hitler, a building which now houses the German Resistance Museum.
Gallery Crawl and Boros Bunker
Guide: Anna Ewa Dyrko
This group will begin by exploring the Scheunenviertel (Barn Quarter) in Berlin Mitte, an area in East Berlin where multiple contemporary galleries have sprung up since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Well-known examples include Eigen+Art and neugerriemschneider, which were among the first and helped to establish the neighbourhood as an artistic hub. An increasing number of private collectors have also established themselves in Berlin since Reunification and some of them now open their vast collections of contemporary art to the public. One particularly noteworthy private collector is the German media entrepreneur Christian Boros, who began acquiring art works when he was just 18. Today, as he approaches 50, his vast collection of contemporary art includes works by Tracy Emin, Damien Hirst, Wolfgang Tillmans, Elizabeth Peyton and Daniel Pflumm to name just a few. In 2003, to accommodate his ever-expanding collection, Boros bought an enormous bunker in Berlin Mitte built during the Nazi period for the German Imperial Railway and commissioned an extensive renovation of the building. This landmark former air raid shelter now includes his private penthouse constructed on the roof of the original bunker, with five floors of gallery space over 3000 square meters in 80 rooms underneath. In May 2017 the latest presentation of selected works from the Boros collection will be unveiled in a new exhibition, just in time for Knowledge Nomads delegates to visit during the afternoon of this artistic excursion.
Hitler's Olympic Stadium Complex and the Georg Kolbe Museum
Guide: Jana Klee
Many visitors associate Berlin's Olympic Stadium on the western edge of the city primarily with present-day soccer tournaments, or think of it as a concert venue for pop singers and rock stars. In fact, the complex relationship between sport, history and architecture makes the stadium one of Berlin’s most important and fascinating landmarks. Refurbished between 2000 and 2004 when a roof was carefully added, the complex was one of the first large-scale urban projects built by the Nazi regime – which used the 1936 Olympics as a propaganda tool. The stadium is testament to the emphasis Hitler placed on architecture and the seduction and manipulation of the masses. During this tour, you will have access to places normally closed to the general public, such as the VIP lounges and changing rooms. In the afternoon, the group will continue on to the Georg Kolbe Museum. In the early twentieth century, Berlin attracted a large number of modern-thinking artists. The arts were in a state of upheaval - a profitable reciprocal influence was taking place between the most diverse, and old patterns were being discarded. One of those active in this creative environment was the young artist Georg Kolbe (1877–1947), who would soon rise to become the most successful German sculptor of his generation. On the occasion of his 140th birthday, the Georg Kolbe Museum is celebrating his surprisingly diverse opus, which encompasses art, architecture, politics, and dance, with a large-scale exhibition featuring works from its holdings.
Read about each of our guides for the Arts & Culture Day here. All groups will depart with their guides from the foyer of the conference hotel. Travel in and around Berlin will be on public transport. Participants with full week conference tickets will be issued with a public transport ticket as part of registration. Combi-ticket holders will need to buy a day ticket for Berlin public transport. These excursions are not suitable for those with limited mobility, as they involve a great deal of walking. Lunch is included. Delegates are asked to nominate their preferred group at the time of registration. Places will be allocated in the order that registrations are received. Some participants may not be able to be placed in their group of first choice.