Cinematic Ciphers: Postdamer Platz, Berlin

in German Politics and Society
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  • 1 State University of New York
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In November 1993, more than fifty years after patrons of the popular

Café Josty on the famed Potsdamer Platz in Berlin came to enjoy a

good cup of coffee and a piece of cake, or smoke a rare fine cigar

before the bombs would raze the café to the ground, a hydraulic excavator’s

bucket stopped in mid-air and miraculously saved five white

porcelain cups with the initials CJ engraved upon each one in red.

The delicate cups had rested under no more than ten feet of loose soil

and rubble near the place where the café’s basement had been. The

bombs that fell on the Potsdamer Platz between 1943 and May 1945

and a scoop by an excavator bucket bookend a series of perilous situations

the cups survived. The East German regime sent tanks across

the square during the uprising in June of 1953, and the wall separating

Berlin was built right through the middle of it in August of 1961.

After lying dormant and overgrown with weeds for many of its subsequent

thirty years, the Potsdamer Platz was finally all but leveled; the

Weinhaus Huth was the only building that escaped the dynamite and

wrecker ball. The swing of the wrecking ball made room for the most

controversial construction project in recent German history: the citywithin-

a-city Daimler-Benz would build on the Potsdamer Platz.