Wedding, Berlin

From Academic Kids

Wedding (German der Wedding) is a district in the borough of Mitte, Berlin, Germany and was a separate borough in northwestern Berlin until it was fused with Tiergarten and Mitte in 2001. The former borough of Wedding included the district of Gesundbrunnen.

History

In the 12th century, the manor of the nobleman Rudolf de Weddinge was located on the small Panke River in the immediate vicinity of today's Nettelbeckplatz. The farmstead, which burned down more than once, remained abandoned in the forest until the 18th century.

In the mid-18th century, while Gesundbrunnen was being built up as a health resort and spa town, gambling and prostitution moved into Wedding, transforming it into a pleasure district.

The constant migration of country-dwellers into the city at the end of the 19th century converted Wedding into a working-class district. The laborers lived in cramped tenement blocks. After World War I Wedding was known as "Red Wedding" as it was renowned for its militant, largely communist working class where the unsuccessful revolution of 1918 began. Because of the politics of the workers in Wedding, it was a target of attacks by the German government in the 1930s.

After World War II, Wedding, along with Reinickendorf belonged to the French sector of Berlin. Wedding’s Bernauer Strasse and sidewalk were in the French sector while the buildings along it were in Soviet territory. As the Berlin Wall was being built in August 1961, many who lived in apartments in these buildings frantically jumped from their windows to the sidewalk below, before the buildings could be evacuated and their windows bricked up.

Wedding was the western terminus of one of the first refugee tunnels dug underneath the Berlin Wall. It extended from the basement of an abandoned factory on Schönholzer Strasse in the Soviet sector, underneath Bernauer Strasse to another building in the west. Though marvelously well constructed and its secrecy maintained, the tunnel was plagued by water from leaking pipes, and had to be shut down after only a few days of operation.

A section of the Berlin Wall has been reconstructed near the spot on Bernauer Strasse where the tunnel ended. Two sections of wall run parallel to one another down the street with a strip of no man’s land in the middle. A nearby museum documents the history of the Wall.

Today, Wedding is one of the poorest areas of Berlin, with a high unemployment rate of almost 26%. Almost 17% of the population live on social welfare ; 27% live below the poverty line. Foreigners make up almost 30% of the population. Low rents accompany the poverty in Wedding so it, like many inexpensive areas in large cities is home to a vibrant artists’ community. Many galleries have been founded by artists to provide a space for themselves and their peers to show their work.

More than other 19th century working class districts, the original character of Wedding has been preserved. It’s said to be a place to find the Schnauze mit Herz (big mouth and big heart) of the working class. However, the spirit is not exclusively German. The multicultural atmosphere is visible in the bilingual shop signs (German and Turkish). The buildings of Wedding are relics of European postwar Modernism. Many are monolithic housing blocks. Some old buildings survived the war and urban renewal and still have coal heating. Wedding did not experience the boom and gentrification of the '90s in Berlin.

Two green oases mark the borders of the old "red" district. The first is the vast Humboldthain park in the East and the idyllic Plötzensee lake in the Southwest. Volkspark Humboldthain has a rise in the south and one in the north with a sort of valley in between. The main activity is walking. There are picnic grounds and a big outdoor public swimming pool. There are also the remains of a large World War II bunker on the northern edge. After unsuccessful attempts to demolish the behemoth structure, the city decided to turn it into a lookout point. It provides an impressive view, especially to the north. Local technical mountain climbers have converted the northern face of the bunker to a practice climbing wall. Plötzensee is a popular summer hang-out offering lovely sandy beaches and long lawns to relax on. A section of the beach is reserved for nudists.

Sources

Some of this information is translated from the German Wikipedia article (http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berlin-Wedding) on Wedding. The statistics on poverty and unemployment are from [1] (http://www.bmgev.de/mieterecho/305/08-sozialstruktur.html). The statistic on foreigners is from [2] (http://www.statistik-berlin.de/pms/2a1/1998/98-02-10.html).de:Berlin-Wedding sr:Вединг

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