Post WW2 Germany: Stasi Berlin with John Owen

Post WW2 Germany: Stasi Berlin with John Owen


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When we think of the GDR (or East Germany) we normally think of a state defined by its secret police, or of shortages and grim architecture. Yet in Germany, there has long been a culture of nostalgia for life in the East (or Ostalgie, in German).

"Very good detail and insight."

This conversation will attempt to look at the GDR in the round - not to diminish its dictatorial side but instead to build a picture of a society which no longer exists. A society in which some citizens lived very contended lives, but others were brutally punished for deviating from the state's image of the perfect society.

We will look at a range of cultural depictions of this society and personal anecdotes from people John knows to build up a layered image of life in the GDR. Above all, this will be a talk which looks at nuance in history and attempts to build a fair picture of a complex society.

"He clearly loves his subject and makes it accessible!"

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.