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Munich: A City of Sorrow, Politics, and Culture Essay

In 1923, Adolf Hitler and the National Socialists marched to Munich in an attempt to overthrow the Munich government. The Weimar government ordered the army to quell the revolt. Hitler was arrested and several high-ranking members of the Nazi Party were incarcerated. In 1933, Munich became once again the power center of the National Socialists after Hitler’s assumption to power. The Nazi Party established the first internment camp (usually for political prisoners) at Dachau, several kilometers north of the city.

Because Munich was the power center of National Socialism, it was called ‘capital of the movement. ’ The Nazis built several monumental buildings south of the city to commemorate fallen comrades in the 1923 putsch. Westerners call Munich as ‘the city of political distress. ’ It was in Munich that Neville Chamberlain agreed to cede Czechoslovak territory to Hitler. And it was also the site where Hitler announced his desire to annex Austria into the German Reich. Indeed, in some instances, the city was referred to as the ‘city of sorrow.

’ But this generalization is unfounded. Munich was also the headquarters of the White Rose, the Nazi resistance movement. During the Second World War, the city was severely damaged by air raids. Several of the city’s heritage buildings were either damaged or destroyed. After the Allies occupied Munich in 1945, the city was rebuilt. General George Marshall allocated a staggering 100 million dollars for the reconstruction of Munich alone. However, the reconstruction of the city was a superficial break with tradition.

The Allies saw an immediate need to eliminate the remnants of Nazism in the city. One such example was the proposed demolition of the monument Giesinger Berg, a stone monument of a naked figure “strangling a snake that symbolized ‘degeneration and decline’” (Rosenfeld, 112). Around the figure were emblems, symbols, and names of twenty-two Freikorps companies that participated in suppressing the communist revolt in 1919. The Allies ordered the demolition of the structure with the consent of the city council.

Munich was the site of intense Denazification. Modernism and populism became the defining themes of the city after the 1972 Olympics. As Rosenfeld argued: The modernization in the city gave rise to inevitable countertendencies as its destructive potential became increasingly evident … This destructive creativity was partially advanced by the modern movement, whose radical city planning principles and universal architectural aesthetic progressively effaced the particularist features of local urban identity.

Beginning in the mid-1960s, this trend’s acceleration generated expressions of protests that eventually developed into the new populist historic preservation movement (147). Indeed, the city was being assimilated into mainstream European culture. The city became the center of modernity and classicism. Modernity aimed for the economic and physical reconstruction of the city while classicism focused on cultural revivalism. Both forces worked at ease for more than 50 years. As Rosenfeld correctly observed: The late 1950s marked the beginning of a period of rapid urban growth for Munich.

In December 1957, the registration of the city’s one-millionth inhabitants demonstrated that Munich … had now on the eve of its eight-hundred birthday, achieved the critical mass to become a legitimate metropolis. Accompanying this rapid urban development was the rapid advancement of innovation (148). To date, the city is considered to be the global centre for cutting-edge automotive technology. Many of Germany’s leading car manufacturers established their headquarters in Munich. The city is also known as the ‘Silicon Valley of the East. ’ It is also one of the wealthiest cities in the world.

Financial and consulting firms listed the city among the top 20 cities with the highest quality of life. In addition, Munich has a strong, solid, and thriving economy motivated by information technology, and highly integrated public sector. From 1950 up to the present, Munich is home to many professional football teams. The Munich territory has three teams playing in the Bundestag system. Munich is one of the main European cultural centers and has been host to several prominent musicians and artists including Rubinstein, Heifetz, Mozart, Wagner, Strauss, and Reger.

The National Theater was established by Ludwig II, ruler of Bavaria, and is home to the Bavarian State Opera. The so-called Residenz theatre was established before the outbreak of the Second World War. Other opera houses were founded decades before the construction of the Residenz. For example, the Gartnerplatz Theatre staged the first edition of Mozart ‘K-ballets. ’ From a historical perspective, the city has evolved from a base of radical ideology to a modern, industrialized, and cultural center. As Toynbee noted:

I have seen a city which beheld all which is sorrowful. Yet, in reality, I have descended into a state of powerlessness. This is not the idea of Nazism or the defunct ideological history of the city. It is awe and admiration that a city so cursed has become a powerhouse of economics and culture (622). Works Cited Rosenfeld, Gavriel. Munich and Memory: Architecture, Monuments and the Legacy of the Third Reich. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 2007. Toynbee, Arnold. Post War Germany. London: London

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