German-German History

Listening Channel Bautzen II; Photo: Martin Conrads

Hearing Isolation – Listening Channel Bautzen II

The sound work “Two Cells” is installed at the Bautzen Memorial since June 2012. By use of acoustic means the visitor gets an impression of isolation and imprisonment.More ...
Bernauer Straße 1962; © Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer

In Memory of the Victims: The 50th Anniversary of the Building of the Berlin Wall

On August 13, 1961, the leadership of the former German Democratic Republic began building the Berlin Wall.More ...
The German Bundestag; Photo: Vierecke

Twenty Years of German Unity – Was the GDR Only a “Footnote in History”?

The phrase describing the GDR as a “footnote in history” was coined by Stefan Heym in 1989. In the public debate the GDR is still very much alive.More ...
© Thomas Kröger - Fotolia.com

Phased Out, Taken Over, Revamped – The Research Community of the GDR Did Not Survive Reunification

The end of the GDR also brought about a sea change for the scientific community in the East of Germany.More ...
Supporters of Robert Mugabe, leader of the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) at an election rally, 1980; copyright: picture-alliance /
imagestate / HIP

Africa 1989: Hopes for Democracy

For Africa, 1989 was a watershed year. The promise of democracy heralded by the Fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War was only comparable to the euphoria of the independence movements in Africa in the 1960s and Nelson Mandela’s release from incarceration in 1990.
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Widerstand in der DDR; © Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft

The Robert Havemann Society: Remembering Forgotten Heroes

In 2009 part of the Alexanderplatz in Berlin was transformed into an exhibition space.More ...
1989/2009 Logo of Goethe-Institut; © Goethe-Institut e. V.

Twenty Years after the Fall of the Wall – “To Whom Does 1989 Belong?”

2009 is the year of big memorial days. One of these of course is the “twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall”. Berlin in particular is looking for new perspectives of commemoration.More ...
Demands for the swift reunification of the two German states once again characterised the image of the Monday demonstrations on the Karl-Marx-Platz in Leipzig, in which roughly 40,000 people took part. Monday demonstration, demonstrator with a placard: 'There's a lot to do. Let's get on with it!' Copyright: Deutsches Bundesarchiv / Photo 183-1990-0219-023 / Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Germany License (CC-BY-SA), Photo: W. Kluge

Peaceful Revolution

The prayers for peace which led to the Monday demonstrations that in turn triggered the Peaceful Revolution in the German Democratic Republic (GDR or East Germany) in October 1989 began at St Nicholas' Church – the Nikolaikirche – in Leipzig. What role did the church play at that time, and how important is it to people today?More ...
Border crossing sign, refugees who made it across, border crossing near Sopron. Copyright: Nicholas Brautlecht

Picnic for Freedom

On 19 August 1989, opponents to the political regime in Hungary organized a “Pan-European Picnic” on the Hungarian-Austrian border near Sopron. On this day, around 1,000 citizens of East Germany (GDR) managed to escape to freedom. The picnic tore a hole in the Iron Curtain, partly because a Hungarian border guard, Arpad Bella, decided to turn a blind eye to what was happening.More ...
'World Heritage City Sanaa. Minarets tower above centuries-old clay brick houses. Copyright: Klaus Heymach, freiejournalisten.net

Unity in Arabic

In 1990, four and a half month before Germany, Yemen celebrated its unification. For the first time in the history of the country that the Romans called ‘Arabia Felix’, North and South Yemen were joined in a common state. Yet instead of growing together, the country is today threatened with drifting apart.More ...
A rally held by the FDJ – the socialist youth organisation of the GDR. Whether you were there live in the Palast der Republik or you watched it on TV, you simply could not fail to be impressed by the finale of the FDJ peace demonstration. Everybody joined together to sing the American song 'We shall overcome' and Brecht’s song 'Und weil der Mensch ein Mensch ist.'; Copyright: Deutsches Bundesarchiv / Image 183-1983-1025-414 / Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Germany License (CC-BY-SA),Photo: Hans-Peter Lochmann

The Experience of Freedom

The generation of Wendekinder (Berlin Wall children) has had a dual experience: A childhood in the GDR and a coming-of-age in the Federal Republic. In this interview, Professor Gerd Dietrich talks about his understanding of freedom and what role it plays today in German society.More ...
Thousands of people on both sides of the Brandenburg Gate celebrated the fall of the wall at Berlin’s 200-year-old landmark. Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl, the Governing Mayor of Berlin (West) Walter Momper (3rd from right), Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher (2nd from right) and Minister President Dr. Hans Modrow, as they walk through the newly opened gate; Copyright: Deutsches Bundesarchiv / Image 183-1989-1222-034 / Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Germany License (CC-BY-SA), Photo: Klaus Oberst

“I was enthused and happy”

We made phone calls at random across the whole of Germany. We wanted the people to tell us something about the revolutionary changes that occurred in their country 20 years ago: How did you experience the 9th of November, 1989, and how have things changed for you since?More ...
'Akte R - Ein deutsch-deutscher Krimi' (The R File – An Inner-German Thriller), 2008; Copyright: Theater Strahl Berlin

Against a Sanitised Dictatorship

The GDR caught up with Mario Röllig in the delicatessen section of the West Berlin department store KaDeWe. Ten years ago, one afternoon in January 1999, the 31-year-old sales assistant suddenly found himself serving his former Stasi interrogator. It was the start of a journey into the past – and of Röllig’s battle against forgetting.More ...
Four 'Berlin Wall children'; Copyright: Dörte Grimm

The Divided Life

When the Berlin Wall fell, they were children or teenagers - today they are around 30 years old. The so-called “Wendekinder” (“Berlin Wall children”) have lived the first half of their lives under the dictatorship of the GDR and the other half in reunited democratic Germany. How do they see the fall of the Wall in retrospect? Four "Wendekinder" explain.More ...
Stefan Koppelkamm, Cop: Stefan Koppelkamm.

A Journey into the German Past: Photographs by Stefan Koppelkamm

Stefan Koppelkamm photographed the same buildings and streets in East Berlin and Eastern Germany twice: in 1990–91 and 2002–2003. A conversation about nostalgia, “romanticized ruins” and coming to grips with history.More ...
Dr. Hubertus Knabe, Director of the Berlin-Hohenschönhausen memorial site; Copyright: Gedenkstätte Berlin-Hohenschönhausen

When a Stasi Prison Turns into Freehold Flats – Interview with Hubertus Knabe

Hubertus Knabe is considered to be one of the most high-profile experts on the SED dictatorship. He is manager of the Stasi memorial in Berlin-Hohenschönhausen. His latest book Die Täter sind unter uns (The perpetrators are amongst us) deals with coming to terms with the GDR past, which in his view has been inadequate. After almost 20 years since the fall of the Wall, the GDR is being romanticised, he says.More ...
Portraits of an Age `Die Berliner Mauer/The Berlin Wall´; Copyright: Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung

Unbowed into Freedom – A Documentation of the “Berlin Wall” with over 300 Photos

The new volume in the “Zeitbilder” (Pictures of an Age) series The Berlin Wall tells the story of t h e monument of the Cold War in a compact, scenic and moving style – a documentation lest we forget.More ...
The athletes of the GDR march into the Olympic stadium in Munich on 26.08.1972; Copyright: picture-alliance / dpa

"The Cold War on the Cinder Track"

Interview with the historian, Dr. Uta Balbier, on the history of German-German sport.More ...
Model of the future documentation site. In the left wing, which is to be reconstructed, is the entrance area, in the new building on the right is a cinema theatre, also exhibition areas, on the upper floor is an office. In the centre, with the original entrance area, building 123, is the entrance to the interior of the bunker. Copyright: hwk-koblenz/www.ausweichsitz.de (Emergency Seat)

The Museum of the Cold War

For decades the government bunker in Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler was the most secret building complex in the Federal Republic of Germany. The end of the East-West conflict sounded the death-knell of the monstrous complex. It is now being converted into a museum.More ...
Stasi-Schnipsel-Projekt; Copyright: Fraunhofer IPK

The Lives of Others – in Sacks Full of Stasi Secrets

The year before German unification in 1990, the communist state security service of the decaying "German Democratic Republic" (GDR) attempted to erase all traces of its history by destroying its files. It left thousands of sacks full of shredded records. Now they are being reconstructed by computer.More ...
Cover page of: Roger Melis – In einem stillen Land (i.e. Roger Melis – In a silent land), photographs from 1965 to 1989, Lehmstedt Verlag

Searching for a Lost Era

Photographer Roger Melis paints a sober and critical picture of everyday life in the GDR in his book In einem stillen Land (i.e. In a silent land).More ...
Cover David Ensikat: Kleines Land, große Mauer - Die DDR für alle die (nicht) dabei waren; Copyright: Piper Verlag

The GDR in Great and Small

David Ensikat's book remembers the GRD – completely without nostalgia

What was the GDR? Why was it, how did its people live? David Ensikat reports of the history and everyday life of the vanished state in a well-written book.More ...
Trabant; Copyright: DDR-Museum

Daily Life under the Dictatorship: the GDR in History Lessons

The East German past has been awarded a very much more prominent place in German history lessons over the last few years, with the main focus switching to the history of daily life.More ...
Rainer Eppelmann in front of the Eastside Gallery; Copyright: DSZ/StandOut Bussenus u. Reinicke GbR

A Past without Taboos – Stiftung Aufarbeitung

The Stiftung zur Aufarbeitung der SED-Diktatur (the foundation devoted to the examination and reappraisal of the SED dictatorship in East Germany) draws attention to the Communist past of Eastern Germany and the entire former "Eastern Bloc". Giving the perspective of the victims exposes false myths and serves as a reminder to later generations.More ...
In the Restricted Zone – Art project for Stasi memorials in Berlin; Copyright: Jan Lengert (ZENON, Berlin)

“Thorny Issue” – the Berlin-Hohenschönhausen Memorial Centre

In East Berlin the main former prison of the “Stasi” still exists.More ...
A Berliner's wife and child have found themselves behind barbed wire due to barriers erected on the East Berlin side of the border (Berlin-Kreuzberg).

The Chronology of German Reunification 1989 - 1990

There were two, very moving developments that led to the reunification of Germany: the democratisation of the east, especially made possible by Mikhail Gorbachev, and the courage of thousands of people who fought for their freedom. At the end of 1989 these events came together and ended up a new state - the Federal Republic as we know it today.More ...

Contemporary Monument Concepts in Germany

A discussion on appropriate forms of remembrance has already been under way in Germany since the early 1980s.

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