If you lived through the Cold War, you’d be forgiven for thinking the only things the East Germans ever designed were drugs that made their lady swimmers look like John Wayne. You’d be wrong, as a dazzling new book by German photog Thorsten Klapsch demonstrates. Palast der Republik documents the extraordinary interior of East Berlin’s prized congressional hall of the same name.
Built in 1976, the hall was a weird collision of Me-Decade flourishes and the sort of no-frills functionalism you’d expect from a nation that banned fun cars and rock “n” roll. Klapsch shot the building several years after the fall of the Berlin Wall; the place had been abandoned but its decor was still pristine. As Der Spiegel reports, his photographs are the last of the palast in its original condition (the government demolished the building last year) and a rare glimpse into the glammy upper reaches of Cold War design. The palast was a showstopper and — Communism be damned — it looked the part.