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“Unveiled: Berlin and Its Monuments”

Nikolai Tomsky’s Lenin monument, Berlin, September 9, 2015. Photo: Wulf Fa.

IN A HAUNTING SCENE from Good Bye Lenin! (2003), a comedy set in the early 1990s amid the profound political and cultural changes sweeping through recently unified Berlin, a piece of a monumental torso, one arm outstretched, from a gigantic statue of the Soviet leader is helicoptered along the former Stalin Boulevard. Passing the movie’s protagonist, a committed Communist, the petrified revolutionary seems to have been gently lowered from heaven, as if to reach down for a final handshake before vanishing—like socialism—for good. The scene refers to the 1991 demolition of the Soviet sculptor Nikolai Tomsky’s monument to Lenin in East Berlin. At the time, many citizens considered this controversial act of iconoclasm to be a drastic manifestation of the fact that Germany’s so-called reunification was really the West’s annexation of the East. Indeed, this send-off of Lenin

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