A couple of days ago, I wondered whether I have somehow not found my true calling; in a post on the recent German general elections I predicted that Angela Merkel would win – maybe I should have gone into political journalism? Rest assured though, this was just a blip, and I’m fully devoted to working as a curator at the BL.
In the same post I was, however, stating that the media in this country does not really show an interest in Germany. Let me retract my statement, as at the moment recent German history is quite prominently covered. I’m alluding to the fall of the Berlin Wall in the days of November 1989, but also the end of an East Germany ruled by a “one-party state”. I could bore you with my personal perspective about this, but just this once I’m going to leave you in the “hands of others”, and point to some interesting web sites covering this part of my former home country’s history.
Focusing on the BBC and their videos online, let’s get the sentimental out of the way first: at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/8335918.stm you can also see a video of the three statesmen of that time reminiscencing about the historic events, now 20 years later. Taking the November events of 1989 back to the roots which started the process of change within Germany, the video and text at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/8300316.stm will help to jog your memory. We now know how much Margaret Thatcher was against a reunified Germany, but luckily the mistrust against Germans was not shared by all (see http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8249773.stm), and thanks to Douglas Hurd! Also see this video for hearing Hans-Dieter Genscher speak English. But the initial downfall of the East German regime began in Hungary in September 1989 (where Hungarians opened their borders so that East Germans could leave (see http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/8245485.stm). Let me send you off to two web pages which let you step back in time in a very different way. 1. 24/7 Stasi Live-Haft describes itself as an ‘art performance 24/7 Stasi-Live-Imprisonment’: Carl-Wolfgang Holzapfel, a former inmate of a Stasi jail, decided to stay for a whole week in the same cell in which he was detained in 1965, and be under constant “observation” of a web cam. The concept of this political web performance art was that he should stay in his cell for a week – unsurprisingly, he could not cope with the solitary confinement for that long. The video below, at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RaGfJsnFPv0, is of a press conference given before the beginning of this event (in German only).
My second recommendation, which is less sad and more fun, is the Goethe Institute’s excellent “Reunification 89/90 –The Quiz”. Oh, but be forewarned, this quiz is really tough. Even if you were there or are old enough to know most things, I promise you that you will probably get some questions wrong.