BY THE TIME Tegel Airport officially opened in 1974, Berlin had already seen more than its share of aviation history. Half a century earlier, Otto Lilienthal launched his innovative gliders from a hilltop in Lichterfelde, and throughout the Weimar years and into WWII and the Cold War airfields sprung up all over the city.
CHERNOBYL: A STALKER’S GUIDE, new from FUEL Publishing, is an impressive hybrid: part travelogue, part memoir, and part essay. The books weaves together the numerous strands of history, mythology, and ecology that intersect at Chernobyl, from Prometheus as an atomic Marxist saint, to pop-cultural references like the Fallout games and HBO’s Chernobyl, to mushrooms as a potential solution to the problem of nuclear waste. Author Darmon Richter, who has spent much of his life exploring and writing about what he calls “ideological architecture” (which often, but by no means always, focuses on Communist-era buildings) does an impressive job of unifying these numerous trajectories into a highly focused study of a fundamentally misunderstood place.
IN THE MONTHS and years following the collapse of the Soviet Union, countless Communist-era monuments and statues have been toppled, dynamited, or otherwise destroyed. The process continues today, and is particularly accelerated in former Soviet states such as Ukraine, where clashes between pro-Russian activists and Ukranian nationalists often center around (literal) concrete representations of the country’s former occupier.
IMMEDIATELY UPON ITS completion in 1970, Berlin’s Haus der Statistik (which stood north of Alexanderplatz in the shadow of the just-built Fernsehturm) took its place as one of the central organs of the GDR state apparatus. With the collection of data and statistics for all of East Germany as its goal, the eleven-story complex housed numerous bureaucratic units, including several floors of Stasi offices. Its street-level businesses were the ultimate in urbane GDR style, hosting two lounges (Jagdklause and the fabulously named Mocca-Eck), a hunting/fishing shop, and Natascha, a boutique offering the latest Soviet imports.
FOR THE PAST decade, journalist Ciarán Fahey has been documenting Berlin’s abandoned places: factories, train stations, hospitals, power stations, shuttered embassies, decaying villas, and everything in between. On his website Abandoned Berlin he documents these disappearing places in photos and words, focusing on the stories hidden behind crumbling walls and boarded-up windows. The human side of these modern ruins lies at the heart of his project: as the site’s welcome message says, “every crumbling building, creaking floorboard, fluttering curtain and flaking piece of paint has a tale begging to be told.”
Shots of the ring road around Kawaguchiko (Lake Kawaguchi, Fuji Five Lakes Area) in springtime. The lake and surrounding areas are a wildly varied mix of posh resorts, working-class restaurants, dilapidated former-glory hotels, modernist developments, and empty lakeside parks, reminiscent of South Lake Tahoe on the California-Nevada border and countless other mountain resort towns.
SIEMENS, MUCH LIKE AEG and Daimler, is a present-day German company with roots stretching back to the 19th century. Founded in an office on Kreuzberg’s Schöneberger Straße in 1847, by the time of founder Werner von Siemens’ death in 1892 the company had offices in 13 countries.
THE VILLAGE OF Rummu, in northern Estonia, is home to a geographical oddity: a lake with several offshore buildings that are partially or completely submerged, skirted by pale white hills that taper down to a gentle, beach-like incline. The lake is in fact a former limestone and marble quarry, now shut down and flooded. The site teems with plant and animal life, particularly in the summer, making it a striking blend of the idyllic and creepy – particularly given that one of the sunken buildings is a former prison that once housed the quarry’s involuntary labor source.