The Fall of the Berlin Wall with John Owen

The Fall of the Berlin Wall with John Owen


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It is now more than thirty years since the Berlin Wall fell on November 9, 1989, and with it, symbolically at least, the Cold War came to a crashing end. Since then, we have tended to see the fall of the Wall as an almost pre-ordained part of the political theatre of the 1980s. However, the reality is very different, and this conversation will attempt to show how the Berlin Wall's fall was essentially a complete accident.

We will start our conversation discussing the Wall's creation and understand its value both as a symbolic and literal expression of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) government's power. Then, we will move on to look at developments both in and outside of Germany during the 1980s before finally focusing on the night The Wall fell and the long-term reverberations of this political earthquake on German reunification and Germany's place in the world.

Led by an expert on German twentieth-century history, John Owen, this interactive seminar will look at an event, which, due to unbalanced media reporting during the night, is strangely little understood. This may provoke us to ask ourselves questions about how events in history get remembered as we address this critical moment in European history.

John studied History and German at the University of Oxford, eventually specializing in German-Jewish history and the history of the Third Reich. He has been coming to Berlin since he was a teenager and moved to the city permanently a couple of years ago. The tangibility of history, especially that of the twentieth century, never ceases to thrill him in Berlin.

This conversation is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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