November 2018 marks the centenary of the socialist revolution in Germany at the end of the First World War. The revolution made it possible - for the first time in German history - to establish important social and individual fundamental rights. The year 1918 thus represents a crucial moment in the struggle for democracy and peace. One of the foundation stones of Germany's current political system was laid then.

More than 250 exhibitions and events throughout Berlin will commemorate the events of the years 1918/19, while also linking them to contemporary issues. This "commemorative winter season" is a collaborative venture involving more than 60 partners. These include museums, historical societies, research institutions, memorial and educational institutions, artists, galleries, theatres, and other institutions. These events offer visitors the chance to gain a deeper and more nuanced understanding of the historical backdrop, contradictions and events of that period. At the same time, it reflects the drama of current-day events and the ongoing process of building a democracy.

The project follows the key events of the revolutionary period and condenses these into overarching thematic areas: Rise up! Make peace! Get involved! Get informed! No violence! Equal participation! Solidarity! These calls to political participation typify the demands of the revolutionary protestors and are still relevant today. Issues such as freedom of the press, fake news, populism, political and social participation, the right to life and personal autonomy are deeply rooted in the revolutionary period, to an extent few people are aware of today.


From November 2018 to March 2019 the thematic winter season will commemorate the events that occurred in Berlin 100 years ago. 100 city markers located throughout Berlin's many districts and quarters will shed light on local events and the people behind them. In this way, the momentous events of 1918-1919 will be vividly brought to life. The particular story linked to each location can be viewed on the project website; for example, the story of the artist Käthe Kollwitz, who in January 1919 held vigil with the reposed corpse of Karl Liebknecht in the morgue at Hannoversche Straße 6, where she drew the preliminary sketches for her famous work "In Memoriam Karl Liebknecht". Or the story of "Bloody Christmas", when a dispute over unpaid wages resulted in an abduction, which in turn led to the bombardment of Berlin's City Palace and the former Royal Stables (Marstall). Or the story of Nobel Prize winner and "father of poison gas" Fritz Haber, who built a poison gas trap to protect the vault of the Reichsbank on Jägerstraße against looters.


"The week begins with revolution": Every Monday, Kulturprojekte Berlin will turn its main premises, the Podewil building at Klosterstraße 68, into a Revolutionary Centre, where - with the collaboration of various partners - people can reflect, debate, discuss, dance and enjoy.


Historical photos show that the revolutionaries of 1918 used freight wagons, among other objects, to erect barricades. An historical freight wagon, built in 1918, forms a central element of various art events, as well as of the overall historical and political education programme. It will be placed at various locations throughout the city centre, for example Alexanderplatz, and will act as a mobile information point with interactive elements. Inspired by specific historical events, present-day artists are taking up the call of the revolutionary insurgents and imbuing them with new life. For example, the artists' collective Tools for Action opens the thematic season with a choreographed performance involving dozens of people carrying luminous objects through the centre of Berlin and inviting anyone interested to join the parade. The artistic duo Plastique Fantastique have converted the historical freight wagon into a meeting place using "transparent, pneumatic architecture". The Japanese installation artist Chiharu Shiota will take her turn at converting the wagon in February. The artist Christiane ten Hoevel deals with the subject of human rights and freedoms. Her project, entitled "Anzetteln" [stirring things up], runs alongside other events and gives Berliners a chance to have their say.


Carla Barzen, Projektmanagement 100 Jahre Revolution – Berlin 1918/19

Jaana Prüss, Projektleitung 100 Jahre Revolution – Berlin 1918/19

Dr. Bjoern Weigel, Research Associate


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