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Journalist Johannes Gross Pleads for a More Urbane Berlin Republic (1995)

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However, the first migratory movement of executive boards will be enough, alongside the large associations and the hundreds of smaller ones, to establish an economic-sector presence sufficient to change the political communication. Apart from the supra-regional media, which will move not only their editorial offices but also their publishing activities to Berlin, the question of a return to Berlin will arise very quickly for the myriad companies who carry the name of the capital in their own and fled during the time of the division. We can immediately add those businesses that rely on federal government contracts. [ . . . ]

The relocation of generously compensated businessmen still won’t bring an upper middle class of wealth and education into the city, but it will bring a stratum that could become such a class and that immediately fulfills its function – people who not only have a house, but also open it up. That is an indispensable precondition for sociability and society, one to which political and academic personnel will also become accustomed and adapt. The new money will benefit the restaurant scene, which so far does not resemble that of a world city, and it will help to slowly correct the vulgarity of the streetscape. Only with this move will Kurfürstendamm have a chance to be comparable to the Faubourg St. Honoré or to Fifth Avenue. At the same time, Berlin will win back a public that wants to be supplied with a press that need not shy away from expressing itself in multiple syllables. Anyone who laments the current state of Berlin publications overlooks one great achievement: that of having produced, in the absence of an educated readership with capital ambitions, papers that would attract notice in the first place.

The Germans, who had grown accustomed to the political reality of Bonn over the course of three generations, must still learn that it was the exception and that Berlin will be the norm. The capital city dialogue between leaders and influential personalities in politics, the economy, and the media – a dialogue that is an everyday and perfectly normal occurrence in capital cities – will also eliminate certain defects, from which the Federal Republic did not suffer simply because it was hardly aware of them. They include the speechlessness of the elites in dealing both with each other and the democratic public. They include the economic cluelessness of politicians, which is unacceptable for a large industrial and exporting nation, as well as the equally harmful political naiveté that informs the majority of German businessmen. Above all, they include the distance separating those who run the media from politics and the economy.

Source: Johannes Gross, Begründung einer Berliner Republik. Deutschland am Ende des 20. Jahrhunderts[Founding a Berlin Republic. Germany at the End of the Twentieth Century]. Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1995, pp. 85-94, 97, 98-99.

Translation: Thomas Dunlap

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