Photo: Heinz Funck, 1949
Soho House, an exclusive members’ club and hotel is appropriately located in a renowned building situated in the heart of the city just few steps away from Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz. Built in the New Objectivity style, even today still fancy and impressive, it was first opened in 1929 and had a name sounding a little less posh than the one it holds today. The “Kaufhaus Jonass” was Berlin’s first department store where you could pay in rates.
While its remarkable facade has remained predominantly unchanged throughout the years, the political environment surrounding it has impinged greatly on the way it was presented. During the reign of the Nazis, the building was used as headquarters for Hilterjugend, whereas after the end of the war it became a communist sanctuary, serving first as the headquarter of the polit buro of the East German Communist Party and then from 1950 the Institute of Marxism-Leninism, and archive of the Party.
We’ve recently stumbled upon some pictures depicting all those different periods of the Soho House building’s history that depict how its fate was constantly determined by the recent political events. After seeing those photographs, I feel like the monumental front of the Soho House, free from any propaganda elements, is even more enjoyable to look at.
Hitlerjugend Headquarters, photo: Klinke & Co., 1933, Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-1993-021-16 / Klinke & Co. / CC-BY-SA 3.0
1st May celebration, photo: Abraham Pisarek, 1946
Central Comittee of the Socialist Unity Part of Germany, 1950
Day of the Socialist Unity Part of Germany, 1950, photo: Heinz Funck
During the month of the German-Russian Friendship, 1951, Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-12480-0002 / CC-BY-SA 3.0
Photo: Weiss, 1954
Photo: Novack, 1958
And for contrast – this is how the current Soho House looks today: