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Relics of the GDR

Oct. 6, 2006

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These amazing stained glass windows by Walter Womacka adorn the entry hall of the European School of Management & Technology, where our meetings were held in Berlin. They are unusual relics of the Cold War era: the building was originally the state council building for East Germany. It's a surprisingly beautiful contemporary space, and it struck me as highly ironic to be sitting under one of these murals or mosaics discussing IT strategy and offshoring. To my mind, they suggest bright aspirations, a very different picture than the one we're used to seeing of the old East Bloc.

Although most of the building dates from the early 1970s, the portal on its facade was salvaged from the old Hohenzollern palace, the Berliner Stadtschloss, that once stood near the same spot. We were told that on its balcony, Kaiser Wilhelm II announced the beginning of the first World War. It wasn't rescued for that reason during the communist era, but rather because from the same balcony at the end of the war, Germany's communist leader Karl Liebknecht announced the end of the monarchy and the creation of a socialist republic.