Scenes from Behind the Wall: Images of East Germany, 1989-1990

In late December 1989 two young men, Page Chichester and Helmut Brinkmann, were drinking and watching a soccer match on television in the city of Bonn in what was then called West Germany.  Brinkmann suddenly suggested that they tour East Germany, beginning the next day.  The two stayed up all night planning their hastily-conceived trip.  At Noon on December 29th the two took off in a Volkswagen van carrying cameras, film, and very few provisions.

Photographers Page Chichester (left) and Helmut Brinkmann (right) at the Berlin Wall during their eight-day trip to East Germany. Restricted to personal, non-commercial use only. For permission to publish, contact Special Collections & Archives, George Mason University Libraries, speccoll@gmu.edu.

Photographers Page Chichester (left) and Helmut Brinkmann (right) at the Berlin Wall during their eight-day trip to East Germany. Restricted to personal, non-commercial use only. For permission to publish, contact Special Collections & Archives, George Mason University Libraries, speccoll@gmu.edu.

Just about a month earlier the Berlin Wall, the main symbol of the division of the two Germanys had begun to fall.  Ironically, this event came just a few short months after the German Democratic Republic celebrated its fortieth anniversary as a communist state.  The festivities included a guest appearance by none other than the leader of the communist world himself, Mikhail Gorbechev.  By late December, however, curious people began to move cautiously between the two countries, being extremely careful not to arouse the suspicion of the Stasi, the State Security Police of the crumbling, but still-functioning GDR.

A Stasi guard poses for a photo in Dresden. Restricted to personal, non-commercial use only. For permission to publish, contact Special Collections & Archives, George Mason University Libraries, speccoll@gmu.edu.

A Stasi guard poses for a photo in Dresden. Restricted to personal, non-commercial use only. For permission to publish, contact Special Collections & Archives, George Mason University Libraries, speccoll@gmu.edu.

Chichester and Brinkmann spent eight days touring East Germany.  The two visited Erfurt, Jena, Dresden, Leipzig, Bitterfeld, Connewitz, Berlin, and other surrounding locales before returning west to Bonn on January 5, 1990.  Speaking to people and photographing the architecture, industry, transportation, and people of the east, they got a first-hand look at the conditions in that part of the Iron Curtain in the period between the fall of the Wall and reunification in October 1990.

A young boy plays in the rubble of a demolished housing project in Connewitz. Restricted to personal, non-commercial use only. For permission to publish, contact Special Collections & Archives,  George Mason University Libraries, speccoll@gmu.edu.

A young boy plays in the rubble of a demolished housing project in Connewitz. Restricted to personal, non-commercial use only. For permission to publish, contact Special Collections & Archives, George Mason University Libraries, speccoll@gmu.edu.

The “Scenes from Behind the Wall: Images of East Germany, 1989/90” exhibit collection contains 53 framed photographs and supporting documentation for the exhibit “Scenes from Behind the Wall: Images of East Germany, 1989/90” that traveled throughout Virginia as part of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Statewide Exhibition Program from 1995 through 2009.  The finding aid for this collection can be accessed here.   A digitized collection of the images can be found at this link.

 

 

 

Dahmen musical manuscript at Mason!

Page seven of Three solos for the violoncello with accompaniment for a bass by Johan Arnold Dahmen. Special Collections and Archives, George Mason University.

Page seven of Three solos for the violoncello with accompaniment for a bass by Johan Arnold Dahmen. Special Collections and Archives, George Mason University.

Steven K. Gerber, Music/Theater Librarian and Adjunct Professor of Music, was recently published in NOTES, the Journal of the Music Library Association (v70 n2 p259). In it he explains the significance of a recently acquired and digitized music score. Here is the entry!

“George Mason University Libraries has acquired and digitized the only extant holograph score by Dutch-born cellist, gambist, and composer Johan Arnold Dahmen (1766–1812). Thre[e] Solos for the Violoncello with Accompaniment for a Bass comprises three short, three-movement sonatas, composed ca. 1794 in London, where Dahmen had relocated to live and work. Dahmen composed and performed at least one cello concerto, and published dozens of chamber works; he also played in Joseph Haydn’s orchestra for the second series of “Salomon” concerts. Despite the cover title, the duets appear to be written for performance by two cellos. A high-resolution scan of the manuscript is accessible online at the libraries’ Special Collections and Archives repository, http://images.gmu.edu/luna/servlet/GMUDPS~27~27 (search for “Dahmen”). Scholar–performers at the university’s School of Music are expected to edit, perform, and record these sonatas.”