20th Anniversary of the Fall of The Berlin Wall

Wall @ Mason

Wall @ Mason

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, which divided Berlin as well as the three Western sectors of Germany from the surrounding area of Brandenburg.  Originally composed of barbed wire, the Wall was 95 miles long and eventually 13 feet high and as wide as 100 feet.   It included a lighting system, 40 yard “death strip”, watch towers, trip alarm fences, and sharpshooter stations. There were two walls facing East Berlin. The purpose of the Wall was to stop people from leaving East Germany This was due primarily to the catastrophic economic situation resulting from forced collectivization and persecution by the SED party and state security services. During the 28 years of the Wall’s existence  nearly 475,000 East Germans escaped to the West. In addition, 125 people died while attempting to escape.

The  end of travel restrictions between the border of East and West German was anti-climatic and was first announced by Gunter Schabowski, a member of the Politburo and newly elected Central Committee Secretary for Public Information during an interview with a journalist for the Italian Press Agency on November 9, 1989.  Parts of the Wall were taken down over the next couple months and a crossing point was made at the Brandenburg Gate on December 22, 1989. Today only six fragments of the Wall remain standing as a reminder of this outrageous injustice.

George Mason University and other organizations in the area have planned a number of events to commemorate the  fall of the Wall. Here are some that you should not miss:

George Mason University – Fairfax Campus

Center for History and New Media http://chnm.gmu.edu/freedomwithoutwalls/

Making the History of 1989 – http://chnm.gmu.edu/1989/

Nov 9

12:00 Unity Walk Location: South Plaza

1:00 Demolition of Wall Replica Location: near Clock Tower

Nov 10

1:30 Talk by German Novelist, Peter Schneider Location: Ballroom, Sub II

Nov 17

1:30 “1989, The Berlin Wall: The View from the Ambassador” by German Ambassador, Dr. Klaus Schiaroth Location: TBA

University Libraries

Wall Exhibit Location: Special Collections & Archives (C Wing, 2nd Floor)

Wall @ Mason

Wall @ Mason

Goethe-Institute,  Washington, DC

Nov 4 – Jan 8

“Iconoclash: Political Imagery from the Berlin Wall to German Unification”, an exhibition co-curated by Marion Deshmukh, Associate Professor of History and Art History, George Mason Univeristy

Nov 9th

9-6:30 “The Rise and Fall of our Own Berlin Wall”: Includes construction and decoration of “The Wall” throughout the day. Ulrich Braess, Director of the Goethe-Institute, will preside over the “fall of the Wall” around 6 pm. Films showing different perspectives about the Wall will also be presented.

6:30 Wende Flicks Series: “Jana & Jara” (This series features films by East Germans)

Nov 16

6:30 Wende Flicks Series: “Burning Life”

Nov 23

6:30 Wende Flicks Seris: “Heart Leap”

Nov 30

6:30 Wende Flicks Series: “Leipzig in Fall”

My next post will feature our exciting recent acquisition of 7,439 posters from East German cultural, film, performing and visual arts, and political organizations. In addition, we have also acquired a photographic archive of the Wall from its construction to its fall.

SC&A DDR Poster Collection

1 of 7,439 posters in the SC&A DDR Collection

Please click here to return to vault217.