In August 1961, the Berlin Wall was erected, thereby dividing overnight a city, families and dueling ideologies for the next 28 years. On Nov. 9, 1989, the world watched as jubilant crowds gathered on both sides of that Wall to celebrate the opening of its crossings. Germany’s postwar division was over.
Next month, we mark the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. To commemorate that event, Western News asked five scholars to reflect on its meaning a quarter century out.
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By Marta Dyczok
Twenty-five years ago, when the Berlin Wall was coming down, I was a PhD student at Oxford. I didn’t own a TV. So, like many others, I crowded into the common room to watch the historic event. … READ MORE.
By Tobias Nagl
As our plane from Copenhagen was approaching the flat Berlin skyline on a sunny afternoon in July, we did not yet know the flight of the victorious German soccer team was scheduled to arrive from Brazil only a few minutes later. Once we had picked up our suitcases with clothes, baby toys and books for our sabbatical and entered the arrival hall of Tegel airport, the signs of athletic – and national – pride could hardly be missed: flags everywhere, children with painted faces, cheering girls in soccer tricots and a few men who already had one too many beers, waiting behind the barriers in eager anticipation of their heroes. … READ MORE.
By Eli Nathans
“We arrived at The (Wall) and it was inconceivable,” recalled Regine Hildebrandt, a leading East German civil rights activist on the evening of Nov. 9, 1989. “You came to a street that was a dead-end, because The Wall was there. … A bridge you could see, but never cross. It was unbelievable. People were streaming through.” … READ MORE.
By Angela Borchert
For many Germans, especially the older generations, freedom is not an abstract concept nor has it always been a given right. It is difficult for the younger generations in today’s Germany even to try and grasp that there was a time when you could not openly express your opinions, choose your career, travel everywhere or freely see your relatives or friends. … READ MORE.
By Karen Priestman
When I teach my students about the fall of the Berlin Wall, I start with David Hasselhoff.
Never short on confidence, ‘The Hoff’ has intimated, more than once, he helped bring down The Wall. Maybe he did. His song, Looking for Freedom, did top the West German charts for eight weeks in the summer of 1989, conceivably adding momentum to the calls for increased freedoms in those heady summer days.
Mostly, I tell Hasselhoff’s story because it gives me an excuse to show the YouTube clip of him singing his signature song suspended over the remains of The Wall on New Year’s Eve 1989, resplendent in his piano-key tie and twinkle-light leather jacket. (I kid you not – look it up.)
Hasselhoff, thankfully, played no part in my experience of the fall of The Wall. … READ MORE.