1 July 1953 is a significant date in Berlin’s infrastructure history. On that day an unusual summit of Cold War collaboration took place on the Späth bridge that connected East and West Berlin. The directors of the water utilities from both sides of the city met at this border point over the Teltow Canal to negotiate supplies of water from East to West – just a few weeks after the suppression of a civilian uprising in East Berlin. High levels of water use had proven a huge challenge for the city even before the war. It had also raised questions about where to put all the wastewater. Should it be irrigated on sewage farms to use the nutrients it contained? If not, how many sewage treatment plants would be needed? These kinds of questions, relating to electricity and gas as well as water and sanitation, became all the more potent after the political division of the city, especially for the ‘island’ of West Berlin. The guiding principle here: autarky. The historian Dr. Timothy Moss has discovered in the archives how self-sufficiency of utility services was envisaged and whether it could be implemented.
Dr Timothy Moss
Series created by
Gisela Graichen and Peter Prestel