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‘Farmers on notice’: the threat faced by Weimar Berlin's garden colonies in the face of the city's Neues Bauen housing programme

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 March 2012

Abstract:

The Neues Bauen programme of urban development in Weimar Germany is best known amongst English-speaking historians for its modern housing estates, including those built by Bruno Taut in Berlin. Less well known are the negative impacts of this programme, particularly the displacement of thousands of garden colonies from the outskirts of towns and cities, which were cleared to make way for new developments. This article focuses on the historical development of the garden colonies in Berlin, and the threat they faced from urban expansion during the Weimar era.

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Research Article
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Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2012

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References

1 The term became common currency in the late twenties. Architectural critic Adolf Behne was one of those responsible for its dissemination, having published his book Neues Wohnen, neues Bauen (new living, new building) in 1927.

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11 Crouch and Ward, The Allotment, 15, 18–19.

12 For a brief history of the ‘chalet’ and allotment gardens in Denmark, see A. Damin and J.F. Palmer, ‘Rural life in the city: the chalet garden in Denmark’, Proceedings of the 2002 Northeastern Recreation Research Symposium (2002) An outline of allotment garden culture across Europe and further afield is given in: Crouch and Ward, The Allotment, 134.

13 Primary and secondary accounts of urban working-class culture in nineteenth-century Paris make scant mention of allotment gardens in the country's major urban centres. See, for example, Berlanstein, L.R., The Working People of Paris, 1871–1914 (Baltimore, 1984)Google Scholar; Traugott, M., The French Worker: Autobiographies from the Early Industrial Era (Berkeley, 1993)Google Scholar. Eugen Weber suggests the rural migrants working in Paris in the mid- to late nineteenth century failed to adapt or respond to their urban surroundings, arguing that they ‘remained completely unaffected’ by their environment, ‘taking nothing, learning nothing that Paris offered them’. Weber, E., Peasants into Frenchmen: The Modernisation of Rural France, 1870–1914 (London, 1979), 282Google Scholar.

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33 Ibid., 173.

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36 Anonymous, ‘Erntefest in der Laubenkolonie’, Arbeiter-Illustrierte-Zeitung, 36 (1928), 15Google Scholar; Anonymous, ‘“Auf der Laube”: Wie 1 1/2 Millionen Großstadtfamilien wohnen’, Arbeiter-Illustrierte-Zeitung, 7 (1929), 6Google Scholar.

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56 Quoted in Diehl and Weidmann (eds.), Weddinger Gärten Gestern und Heute, 21. The colloquial term ‘Laubenpieper’ is still used to refer to small-garden owners. The term literally translates into English as summerhouse pipets, and draws an analogy between the chattering garden owners who build themselves a summerhouse, and the songbirds who take great care in constructing their nest. I am indebted to Clemens Wagner for this explanation.

57 ‘Die Kleingärtner protestieren’, Neue Zeit: Das große Berliner Morgenblatt, 24 Feb. 1927.

58 ‘Autogaragen oder Kleingärten?: Skandalöser Magistratsentscheid gegen die KGD’, Die Rote Fahne, 9 Jul. 1929.

59 Albrecht, O., ‘Dauergartengebiete: Praktischer Unterrichtsstoff zur Bodenpreisfrage’, Kleingartenwacht, 11 (1927), 125–6Google Scholar.

60 J. Robertson, 2010, The Battle for Berlin's Gardens, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/8892623.stm (accessed 7 Aug. 2010).

61 Addresses in Togostraße – the main street through the Friedrich-Ebert estate – in the Berliner Adressbuch for 1933, reveal shortened entries, indicating that many flats remained empty. Berliner Adressbuch (Berlin, 1933), 865.

62 Anonymous, ‘“Auf der Laube”: Wie 1 1/2 Millionen Großstadtfamilien wohnen’, 6. Life for the unemployed and homeless in the Laubenkolonien is illustrated in Hans Fallada's novel Little Man, What Now?, as well as in Slatan Dudow's 1932 film Kuhle Wampe. Fallada, H., Little Man, What Now? (Chicago, 1983), 337–4, 356–7Google Scholar.

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‘Farmers on notice’: the threat faced by Weimar Berlin's garden colonies in the face of the city's Neues Bauen housing programme
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