The doctoral project "The S- and U-Bahn, and the Production of Urban Space in Berlin, 1945–1990" examines how rail transport - more specifically the S-Bahn and U-Bahn systems - shaped the production of space in Berlin, between the years 1945 and 1990.
Hannah Siegrist is a PhD student in History of Science and Ideas at Uppsala University, Sweden, since 2020. In the first half of 2023, she was a visiting PhD student at ZZF Potsdam.
In the ruins of the Second World War, large-scale plans were developed for the reconstruction of Berlin. Erwin Kramer – who would soon become both Director General of the Deutsche Reichsbahn and the GDR's Minister of Transport, holding both positions for almost twenty years – was at this time planning a long-distance railway line to be built right through the city. With a bridge construction, the line would cross Unter den Linden at a height of 16-18 meters. The elevated, long-distance line would separate the city spatially, into an eastern and a western part. However, paradoxically, precisely this line of separation was envisioned as part of an over-arching and geometric plan for the development of Berlin as a whole. Through the spatial division, the unity of the city would be guaranteed.
The doctoral project "The S- and U-Bahn, and the Production of Urban Space in Berlin, 1945–1990" examines how rail transport - more specifically the S-Bahn and U-Bahn systems - shaped the production of space in Berlin, between the years 1945 and 1990. The main theme investigated is the parallel production of three interconnected cultural entities – East Berlin (or, the capital of the GDR, Berlin), West Berlin (or Berlin West), and Berlin as a whole – and the impact of the rail networks on this triad. The theoretical starting point is an understanding of infrastructures as large-scale, aesthetic projects by which territorial areas are delimited from one another, and an interpretation of states as the creators of these projects.
The project is particularly focused on the urban development planning developed within the framework of Deutsche Reichsbahn’s activities, but empirical material is also collected from a number of archives: from the traffic departments of national and regional archives, from the collections of the Bundesministerium für Verkehr and the Ministerium für Verkehrswesen, and from the traffic departments of the Berlin Senate and Magistrate respectively. The material is then analysed using a range of methods influenced by infrastructure, architectural, urban, and media history.
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