The Greatest Escapes over the Berlin Wall with Finn Ballard

The Greatest Escapes over the Berlin Wall with Finn Ballard

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In this Conversation, we will discuss the most innovative and daring escapes over, under, and through the Berlin Wall, from 1961 to 1989.

This Conversation will be about the many successful efforts to escape the Communist regime of East Germany - in the most adventurous of ways. From hot-air balloons to tunnels (and one zipline!) we will discuss the stories behind beloved Cold War novels and movies, including Spielberg’s ‘Bridge of Spies’ (2015). Some efforts were recklessly brazen, others meticulously planned, and in this Conversation we will focus on the stories of those who succeeded in finding the weak spots in the supposedly-impenetrable Berlin Wall. Beginning with the border guard who leapt over the barricade he himself was overseeing, all the way through to the ‘trojan bull’ (you’ll find out!) via the only mass escape from West Berlin to East Berlin, our Conversation will be packed with photos from this recent and most curious moment of history, including some lucky shots of escapes while they happened.

Led by an expert on modern Berlin history, Dr. Finn Ballard, this interactive seminar will invite you to explore the affirmative and indeed humorous side of Cold War-era Berlin’s grim history. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased understanding of everyday life in East Germany, the diversity of its inhabitants, and the inventive and daring lengths to which they were prepared to go in their quests for freedom.

Finn grew up in Northern Ireland before moving to England to study and later teach in the department of Film and Literature at the University of Warwick. He completed his doctoral study on German folklore and popular cinema in 2012, and has published extensively in the fields of Film Studies and Gender Studies. Since 2008, he has been living and guiding in Berlin. He now works as a historical advisor for television and film productions set in Berlin, particularly during the Weimar era or Third Reich. He is a journalist for the 'Siegessauele', Europe's foremost Queer magazine, and organises events at Berlin's English-language bookstore 'Another Country'.

This conversation is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.