How do new cities begin

Urban politics

Christine Hannemann

To person

Dr. phil .; Dipl.-Soz .; Research Associate at the Institute for Social Sciences at the Humboldt University in Berlin, Department of Urban and Regional Sociology.
Address: Humboldt University Berlin, Institute for Social Sciences, Unter den Linden 6, 10099 Berlin.
Email: [email protected]

Publications including: New countries - New customs? Transformation processes in cities and regions in Eastern Germany, Berlin 2002; The plate: Industrialized housing in the GDR, Berlin 20033; Marginalized cities: problems, differentiations and opportunities, Berlin 2003 (i.E.)

Shrinking cities in East Germany represent urban development for which there are no proven coping strategies. The solution to the problem through demolition, i.e. the demolition of prefabricated buildings, does not go far enough.

Hoyerswerda is everywhere

Hoyerswerda, built in 1956 as the "second socialist residential town of the GDR" for the coal and energy workers of the "largest lignite and hard coal refining combine in Europe", Schwarze Pump, has been going through a dramatic de-industrialization process since reunification: Thousands of jobs have been lost. At the same time, the population of the city is steadily decreasing and the remaining population is getting older. In about ten years, according to the forecasts, the former "youngest city" in the GDR will be almost half inhabited by pensioners. Today these are still relatively well-cared for miners' pensioners. In future, however, those groups of people will predominate whose earnings as a result of early retirement and years of unemployment offer a rather bleak perspective: Income / assets and future pension entitlements are low. Here poverty in old age threatens to rise again. In addition, the entire technical and social infrastructure of the city is oversized in view of the declining population. This article uses arguments from a publication by the author, which was published in the publication "Labor Ostdeutschland" of the Federal Cultural Foundation, edited by Kristina Bauer-Volke and Ina Dietzsch, is expected to appear in July 2003.

How can city mothers and fathers develop their city under these conditions? "What do you do with a community", so the East German architecture critic Wolfgang Kil rightly dramatizes, "that is not reproduced either by newcomers or by its own offspring, that is, de facto doomed to extinction?" And further: "What do the citizens of this city do with themselves when the majority of them are getting old and getting older, increasingly burdened by physical hardship and without financial resources? and high-rise buildings that have been upgraded for care, embedded in parks with many benches and electric vehicle rental service, pet care stations, the famous miners 'clinic converted into a geriatric specialist hospital, weekly musicians' stalls in the Lausitzhalle and finally the cemetery nursery as the last employer with guaranteed expansion prospects? "[1] Questions that arise today in almost all East German cities and maybe very soon in the West German ones too. Because regardless of location, size, economic base, history and administrative status, the economic and social consequences of the turnaround are particularly evident in the far-reaching shrinking processes of cities and regions in Eastern Germany. It is a development that has been evident since the fall of the Wall, but has only been politically and scientifically ignored since November 2000: "The new challenge is dealing with shrinkage." [2] And only since then have it become a possibility and the necessity of urban regression processes are discussed, [3] it is politically opportune to put "shrinking" as a new, momentous path of urban development on the agenda.