25 years has passed since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the symbol of the Cold War. Now the wall is almost completely gone, just like so many other historical monuments from Berlin’s dark history.
Perhaps one of the best places where you still can sense the history of Berlin, is in the city’s underground subway known as the U-Bahn.
Danish Photographer Patrick Kauffmann has been in Berlin to capture the U-Bahn’s architectural diversity and spectacular design, an intriguing journey in colors, forms, patterns, and typography.
Not two of the 173 stations are alike, because the network has been developing over the past 100 years, with the most recent opening of a station as late as in 2009. The diversity is also a result of the architects’ clever way to incorporate the stations surrounding architecture and sights.
In the U-Bahn you can experience a sway of different time eras and styles ranging from Art Nouveau and Art Deco over German Jugenstile and Bauhaus to the Futurism of the 1970s.
Also very different ideologies are represented here, most notably from the Cold War era, where Berlin was divided into Eastern and Western parts.
Even when the wall was constructed, West Germany was allowed to use some of the underground network, against a generous payment to East Germany. Hereby emerged the “Geisterbahnhöfe” or ghost stations, where East German border guards would patrol the dimly lit platforms, while the U-Bahn train from West drove past, not allowing anyone to get of or on the trains.
An era which is not present in the U-Bahn is the Nazi era, where the U-Bahn tunnels where primarily used as bomb shelters. However, a few remainings are to be found here and there, for instance at U-Bahn station Mohrenstraße where the red marble is recycled from Hitler’s Reich Chancellor Building.
So if you visit Berlin don’t be afraid to take a detour in the U-Bahn, inhale the special odor of metal, mold and machine-grease, and don’t forget to keep your eyes open, and pay attention to all the details that makes the Berlin U-Bahn so unique.