The more things change the more they stay the same - Berlin 1914 and now

This beautiful photo of Alexanderplatz was taken not long before 1914.

This beautiful photo of Alexanderplatz was taken not long before 1914.

In his book 'The Go-Between', L.P. Hartley wrote: "The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there." It's a statement which seems to hold true, and it gets truer the further back in time we look, though I recently discovered something that made me doubt that sentiment just a little...

Yesterday, while browsing through a copy of BZ, a tabloid newspaper in Berlin, I came across their annually published book which looks back at news from one hundred years ago. 

If we were to counter L.P. Hartley's quote it would be with this: The more things change, the more they stay the same! 

If you're a German-speaker, take a look at these few snippets:

Wagner comes to Berlin

Berlin is a cultural capital, as well as a political one. It's not rare to see an opera by Wagner performed at one of the famous theatres here. It's interesting, though, that some tastes in classical music are still the same as one hundred years ago. 

2014 (the website formatting is a dead giveaway) A Wagner opera comes to Berlin.

1914... but it could just as easily be today. While the Deutsche Oper building has changed after the original was destroyed in WWII, today's Deutsche Oper is in the same location as a century ago. 

1914... but it could just as easily be today. While the Deutsche Oper building has changed after the original was destroyed in WWII, today's Deutsche Oper is in the same location as a century ago. 

Tempelhofer Feld

The field in Tempelhof was designated an airport in 1923, and the terminal buildings were constructed a few years later. In 1914, however, they were still discussing what to do with the field. Now that the airport is closed, the very same discussions are taking place. 

In 2014, discussions are ongoing as to what to do with the ex-airfield Tempelhofer Feld

In 2014, discussions are ongoing as to what to do with the ex-airfield Tempelhofer Feld

While in 1914, discussions are ongoing as to what to do with (the yet-to-be airfield) Tempelhofer Feld. 

While in 1914, discussions are ongoing as to what to do with (the yet-to-be airfield) Tempelhofer Feld. 

U-Bahn construction works

Maybe this is a little too obvious, but Berliners in 1914 had their commutes interrupted by building work on the U-Bahn too. The U-Bahn trains of today are very modern, so it is interesting to think back to all those years ago, with all that has changed in Berlin and the world at large, the same everyday frustrations affected those Berliners just like today!

Now... frustration for commuters as U-Bahn building works continue...

Now... frustration for commuters as U-Bahn building works continue...

...and then... frustration for commuters as U-Bahn building works continue.

...and then... frustration for commuters as U-Bahn building works continue.

All these excerpts are taken from B.Z.'s interesting book "Berlin 1914: Unsere Stadt vor 100 Jahren"... and they're just from the January chapter!

Later that year the First World War began, one of several upheavals of everyday life in Berlin, Europe and the world in the 20th century. The past may well be a foreign country - with the turmoil of two world wars and the country living divided it is difficult for someone born recently to really fathom how life must have been during these times - but although history has marched forward, some things in Berlin, it seems, have remained just the same.