German Studies student presented at the inaugural Cambridge Undergraduate Conference in German Studies

The inaugural Cambridge Undergraduate Conference in German Studies took place at Gonville & Caius College on the weekend of 21 February 2015, with keynote speakers Christopher Clark (author of the award-winning The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914), memory studies theorist Anne Fuchs and Times Germany correspondent Michael Binyon.

In keeping with the overarching theme 'Germany in 2015', German Studies student Mark McFadden presented on the topic of 'Constructing the new (old) capital of the Berlin Republic'. He focussed upon issues of the normalisation of Berlin as a European capital city at the heart of the reunited Germany, and the debates concerning the city's development; namely, the erasure of the 'socialist city' epitomised by Alexanderplatz and Plattenbauten and its replacement with a commercially-driven 'Critical Reconstruction' that problematically harks back to the urban tradition of Prussian neoclassicism. The development of the German capital is problematic, owing to the representative nature of the city's urban fabric; the reunited liberal-democratic Germany must decide how it is to build and what kind of place narrative it desires for its capital, whilst addressing the city's ambiguous past.