Arts vs. Politics: Ernst Reuter Platz

(as reported by)

       Berlin-Inside (renewed copyright)
Original REPORT released  December 7th, 1997

Last week´s letter by Edzard Reuter produced great response from all sides including politicians for the first time. Help the Berlin fountains - everybody shouted loud! Politicians realised all of sudden that a sparkling fountain is a factor of relaxation and a tourist attraction, too - all in one: a certificate of life style. Berlin Senator for Building and Housing, Jürgen Klemann, surprised with the announcement that all Berlin public squares should now be placed under the direction of the city of Berlin, and should not remain the responsibility of the local city district governments, like Charlottenburg in the case of Ernst-Reuter Platz.

Just recently, Charlottenburg Mayor Wissel announced that the Berlin water company would take over the costs of rebuilding the fountains on the famous square, and taking over their operation for the next 10 years. That's surprising, considering the fact that Berlin's public spending budget now includes provisions to cover these costs, at a time when the city government's budget deficit continues to widens. More ironically, this was the reason that maintenance and operations were discontinued there over two years ago.

Debate continues to reign over the simple cost of 6,000 marks for flagpoles, which as a result should represent the sponsor of the square in return for their support. Berlin-Inside asks: Are such miniscule, short-sighted arguments like this worthy of a capitol like Berlin, which German politicians frequently refer to as "the centre of the world"?

Forgotten is the private initiative of Isolde Josipovici - Berlin-Inside reported -, which Berlin-Inside reported on earlier this year - who fought since early 1996 to draw more attraction to the famous Berlin squares that were slowly falling into decay. In an exclusive, Berlin-Inside interview, she stated: "I think the Berlin water company still can withdraw from the project. The sponsorship by another public company appears to me that I should be able to sponsor my own hotel for my efforts!" Josipovici who operates a hotel in Charlottenburg said further, "I would grant Wissel this disgrace. Enough is enough! A take-over by Berlin senator Klemann is certainly the better choice."

Charlottenburg Major Wissel also said, "Ernst-Reuter-Platz is a public place which needs to be maintained by the city of Berlin as a whole - not only by Charlottenburg!" After the 1997 Love Parade, Charlottenburg´s local politicians where at hand to blame the ravers for the damage of the Ernst-Reuter-Platz. But everyone knows that the truth is that the state of decay and disrepair there and in other sites around Berlin is a result of the neglect resulting when politicians lost interest due to spending cuts several years ago.

Politicians did not show any interest in the last month's efforts led by Josipovici to have local artists paint on the glazed tiles she recovered from the devastated fountain to sell off in a charity auction raise money for the fountain to be maintained. Slowly at first, but with great response, she has begun selling the tiles for donations to the fountain at Ernst-Reuter-Platz. (db.)

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