Title

Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall: The painful space between shrugs and hugs in the collapse of GDR

Document Type

Presentation

Publication Date

3-12-2010

Abstract

Life in the GDR prior to the fall of the Wall in 1989 was outwardly a defense of socialism against capitalism, and inwardly an alternating current between the high political tension of a police state and the daily dullness of life in the GDR (German Democratic Republic, i.e., former East Germany). After 21 years, the initial euphoria following the dramatic fall of the Wall in Berlin soon deteriorated, and a new alternating current of recrimination and blame flowed between "Wessis" and "Ossis." Within that highly charged atmosphere, the generations responded differently: the older with shrugs, the younger with hugs, and the middle generation, the one that had invested the most in the GDR, with guilt, anger, hurt, and pain. While some in the middle generation eventually accepted unification, others indulge in Ostalgie (nostalgia for the former East) or their lives remain suspended between past and present. Berlin, however, the former western exclave in the GDR, is blossoming once again. At this afternoon's Friday Forum, Prof. Lisa Ohm (Modern & Classical Languages) will present her important and timely findings on life in the GDR in the post-1989 period.

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