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Berlin subway station will be renamed after criticism of racism

The underground station "Mohrenstraße" in Berlin is to be renamed "Glinkastrasse" later this year. The name of the station has been criticized for years.

After years of racism debates around the "Mohrenstraße" in Berlin, the subway station of the same name is to be renamed. The Berlin Transport Service (BVG) announced that the station would in future bear the name of Glinkastrasse, which also runs there. It commemorates the Russian composer Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka, who lived from 1804 to 1857. The renaming will take a few weeks, but should take place this year, said a BVG spokeswoman for the German press agency.

"As a cosmopolitan company and one of the largest employers in the capital, the BVG rejects all forms of racism or other discrimination," the statement said. "Out of understanding and respect for the sometimes controversial debate about the street name, the BVG has now decided not to continue using it to name the subway station."

The underground station was opened in 1908 and was called Kaiserhof until 1950. Subsequently in East Berlin the station was called "Thälmannplatz" until 1986 and "Otto-Grotewohl-Straße" until 1991. Since then, the adjacent "Mohrenstraße" has given its name.

The name of the street itself, which probably goes back to former residents with dark skin in the area, has been a controversial issue for years. In the Mitte district, it is already being examined whether the street should be renamed. Because of the desired involvement of residents, however, it is called a longer process.

Nazi subway?
There was a longstanding belief that the red limestone used in the 1950 redesign of the station consisted of re-used claddings from the interior of Adolf Hitler's Reich Chancellery, which had been standing close to the station. According to the East Berlin newspapers Neues Deutschland and Berliner Zeitung from 19 August 1950, however, the marble for the newly renovated station was delivered directly from quarries in Thuringia. In more recent times, petrographic research confirmed this origin of the material, although possibly the limestone used at the Chancellery also came from Thuringia.

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