Postcard from... Berlin


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The Independent Online

The building is still widely referred to as the “Red Monastery”. From 1955 until shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 the six-storey, red brick complex on Berlin’s Rungestrasse was a communist shrine. Built between 1930 and 1933, it served as the “Karl Marx” high school and was the top political education centre in East Germany. More than 25,000 communist party officials were schooled there.

However the “Red Monastery”’s new owners are understandably reluctant to dwell on the building’s past. The whole complex is to be turned into 135 “luxury lofts” on sale at around one million Euros apiece. The owners, who are backed by a Jersey investment company, point out that “Metropol Park” as it will soon be named, is an oasis of calm in the centre of bustling Berlin. They claim the building has architecture reminiscent of German expressionist film classic “Metropolis”. Its apartments are meant for “design affined, creative entrepreneurs”. A large show flat has been installed. Prospective buyers are said to be queuing up to look, many of them wealthy Russians. Quite a turnaround for the former institution installed in Soviet occupied East Germany on the orders of Moscow. In that sense at least, it could be a real home from home for its new residents.