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„The history of Berlin plays a crucial role”



Dorothee Dubrau is now Deputy for Urban Development and Construction of the City of Leipzig. From 1990, she was the first green district councilor for urban development, building and living in the Berlin-Mitte district, later from Prenzlauer Berg. She is known as a staunch representative of residents’ interests and is in favor of preserving instead of tearing it down. She is skeptical about short-term returns.

Hubertus Siegert:
What were your maxims as district councilor for building, living, environment?

Dorothee Dubrau:
There are two. One is: to carry out the enormous renovation work in Prenzlauer Berg in such a way that it is compatible with the residents, that they have better apartments afterwards and that the entire environment also improves. The second is a maxim of urban planning. I am someone who is committed to ensuring that the city as it currently exists also merges into the new city. While politics keeps saying: Berlin will, I assume: Berlin is. Berlin should continue to develop, but should take what is available from the past.

Hubertus Siegert:
Why was so much torn down, even though the city was already cleared a lot?

Dorothee Dubrau:
In the first years after reunification, the first reason was the special tax policy. Depreciation of 50% was only possible for new buildings, which naturally led investors not to look at what was there. In addition, the use of a plot of land when building a new one is much higher in terms of square meters than in the old building. In this way, the state influences urban development very intensively.

Hubertus Siegert:
And in which direction?

Dorothee Dubrau:
My demands on the politics of the higher levels were always to discover what the actual need is. In many places we have planned to bypass the needs and are still planning to meet the needs today. The city should agree on a compact inner-city area. On the one hand, we have to offer additional open spaces there to make life more livable, but on the other hand, our main task is to develop the city center as massively as possible and to shorten the distances for residents between living and working.

Hubertus Siegert:
How did the enormous hurry come about after 1989?

Dorothee Dubrau:
It has to do with the special situation in Berlin. Kohl had promised blooming landscapes. It was necessary to show that construction work on an enormous scale was actually carried out in the shortest possible time. Good things came about, that’s not the issue at all. But there are also disasters. In places, where a construction project did not immediately come into play and you have thought a second or a third time how the development should go, the ideas have improved. For me, urban development is not a process that takes three or ten years, but actually a process of the century. A city will continue to develop, will have areas that are left behind and areas that will develop more quickly. That is what is special. Sometimes, I think we should give our children a little space to build something in the city.