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Trace the city from the Roaring Twenties to the ruins of war to its rebirth as political and cultural capital

From the Archives



Glamour and grit, war and peace; Berlin is a metropolis that bears the marks of the past: the turbulence of the 20th century is yet another layer of history atop the accumulated wonders and turmoil arising since Europe’s Middle Ages. Berlin persists by pushing boundaries and rejecting the status quo—whether by way of Expressionist paintings or all-night techno parties—in the quintessential spirit of the avant-garde. The city has always lured creative types and today is no different. From cinema icon Marlene Dietrich to rock legend David Bowie to contemporary art star Olafur Eliasson, Berlin continues to nourish artists and shape culture.

As the 19th century drew to an end, grand building projects transformed Berlin into a cosmopolitan “Athens on the Spree,” the results of which still stand as epic monuments and houses of culture. In the freewheeling spirit of Berlin’s Weimar Age, the underground and unconventional soul of the city blossomed. It was during this fleeting epoch between two world wars that the Bauhaus school changed the face of modernity. The 1920s were an era of excess and experimentation, progressive politics, and innovation across the sciences and arts. Robert Nippoldt’s sumptuous illustrations evoke the chaos and charisma of the time period: like a burst of melodious jazz, soon replaced by the uproar of National Socialism and the trauma of war.

In the aftermath of the Nazi reign, Germany’s Wirtschaftswunder also saw its capital transformed in postwar recovery. But under the shadow of the Cold War Berlin suffered again, blighted by a cruel wall that separated the city. With reunification Berlin underwent a further metamorphosis, the East rejoined the West, but the scars of the past remained.

The compelling history of the city—its streets and buildings, its marvels and secrets—is told through TASCHEN publications brimming with the visual culture of Berlin now and then. From rare 19th-century photographs to Dadaist artworks, archival images of the GDR to Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s Wrapped Reichstag, these books paint a portrait of a city where the past is always in conversation with the present.