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At the Edge of the Wall: Public and Private Spheres in Divided Berlin

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Volume 26

Contemporary European History

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At the Edge of the Wall

Public and Private Spheres in Divided Berlin

Hanno Hochmuth
Translated from the German by David Burnett

358 pages, 20 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78920-874-0 $145.00/£107.00 / Hb / Published (March 2021)

eISBN 978-1-78920-875-7 eBook

Hb View cartYour country: United States - edit   Buy the eBook! $39.95 Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


Praise for the German edition:
“A lively, detailed and well-written book… It provides profound and exciting insights into urban life in Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg in the 20th century, and makes a sound contribution to the history of Berlin.” • H-Soz-Kult

“Historians of cities and urbanization rarely succeed in linking local with broader social history. Hanno Hochmuth's study on the two Berlin working-class districts of Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg masters this methodological challenge by analyzing the specific stories of the two districts as a comparative history of integration.” • Sehepunkte

“This is a thorough and exemplary study, shedding light not just on the past under discussion, but, by implication, illuminating current developments too. The focus on the years of division allows for a particularly clear profile of general and specific forces that are at work in Berlin’s urban environment.” • The Year’s Work in Modern Language Studies

“Overshadowed by the Cold War and global confrontation, the complexity and utter normality of everyday life on both sides of the Berlin Wall have often been overlooked. Hanno Hochmuth’s fascinating account of two neighborhoods on the margins of West and East uniquely succeeds in providing a fresh picture of urban society, seen through the eyes of its principal actors: proletarians and pastors, drop-outs and dissidents. Here is the historian as “wall-pecker”: The story Hochmuth tells is 20th-century German history in a nutshell, full of insights that also provide background for understanding the current transformation of Germany’s capital.” • Paul Nolte, Freie Universität Berlin


Located in the geographical center of Berlin, the neighboring boroughs of Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg shared a history and identity until their fortunes diverged dramatically following the construction of the Berlin Wall, which placed them within opposing political systems. This revealing account of the two municipal districts before, during and after the Cold War takes a microhistorical approach to investigate the broader historical trajectories of East and West Berlin, with particular attention to housing, religion, and leisure. Merged in 2001, they now comprise a single neighborhood that bears the traces of these complex histories and serves as an illuminating case study of urban renewal, gentrification, and other social processes that continue to reshape Berlin.

Hanno Hochmuth is a research fellow at the Leibniz Centre for Contemporary History in Potsdam (ZZF) and teaches at the Free University of Berlin. He is editor, with Paul Nolte, of Stadtgeschichte als Zeitgeschichte: Berlin im 20. Jahrhundert (Urban History as Contemporary History: Berlin in the Twentieth Century) published in 2019 by Wallstein, and with Martin Sabrow and Tilmann Siebeneichner, of Weimars Wirkung. Das Nachleben der ersten deutschen Republik (Weimar’s Legacy. The Afterlife of the First German Republic), published in 2020 by Wallstein.

Subject: Urban Studies
Area: Germany


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