Excerpt from the fifth chapter, The Birth of a Century

Hermann Dernburg lived most of his life in Berlin and that’s where you can find a great deal of the buildings, houses and factories he designed. He never found out how his Sportpalast would earn its reputation. Built at Potsdamer Straße 172, principally as an indoor ice rink for ice hockey and skating events, the Sportpalast was a sensation at the time of its opening in November 1910, and was at the time the largest such enclosed skating facility in the world. In later years, the Sportpalast also hosted non-winter sporting events such as six-day bicycle races and professional boxing matches in which well-known German boxer Max Schmeling fought. Depending on the type of event and seating configuration, the Sportpalast could hold up to 14,000 people. In 1943 Joseph Goebbels delivered his total war speech in the Sportpalast. It is also true that The Mothers of Invention performed there in 1968. Prior to the show, Zappa was approached by students who, presumably still fired up by events the previous summer in Paris where a revolution had almost taken place, asked him to declare his opposition to capitalism from the stage and, by extension, to further the cause of the armed and violent revolution that they believed was necessary to transform society. Zappa refused. The student leaders suggested that, in that case, Frank could lend support for their cause by encouraging them to set fire to public buildings.

 

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