It’s already been nearly a quarter of a century since the two Germanies were reunified. An entire generation that never experienced life in a divided country has already graduated from university. Common sense suggests that young Germans are looking exclusively at the future, and the country has moved on from the debates over reunification and… Continue reading Germany’s Third Generation East
The first major challenge to the new Communist authorities in East-Central Europe came from the workers in East Germany. It was 1953. Stalin had died a few months earlier, and the heavy fog of paranoia seemed to be lifting ever so slightly. What started out as a strike of 300 East Berlin construction workers upset… Continue reading What Happened to East Germany’s Workers?
It’s difficult to close down an organization that’s about to be absorbed by a bigger entity. You have to deal with staffing, with the old office space, with all the stuff inside the office. There’s all the paperwork. You have to change the letterhead, the business cards, the signs on the doors. There are banking… Continue reading Closing Doors, Opening Doors
Farming practically collapsed in East-Central Europe after 1989. First came the dissolution of the collective farms, then came the influx of agricultural products from the West, and finally came integration into the European Union. Although some countries didn’t have collective farms (Poland) and other countries have yet to join the EU (Serbia, Albania), the pattern… Continue reading Rebirth of the Countryside
The word “utopia” comes from the book of the same name by Thomas More, which he published in 1516. The English philosopher and humanist imagined an ideal society on an island somewhere in the New World which had abolished private property and lawyers, but maintained a system of slavery and restricted travel. The island’s welfare… Continue reading The Fall of Utopianism
When the Berlin Wall fell, a tremendous number of people headed for the West, permanently. Between 1989 and 1990, nearly 4 percent of the population of East Germany moved to West Germany. The outmigration rate dropped considerably once the new common German currency was introduced and reunification became an irrevocable fact. But it rose again… Continue reading Heading East
It was an exhilarating time to be young in November 1989 and living in East Berlin. It was not only the physical Wall that fell on November 9. It was also the many invisible walls that closed off anyone who didn’t conform. All those who had been largely hidden from sight – punk rockers, dissidents,… Continue reading Squat Paradise
The GDR Museum in Berlin is actually two museums in one. And these two parts, both devoted to everyday life in the German Democratic Republic, subtly contradict one another. That might not have been the intention of the museum founders. But this tension actually captures the ambiguities of East Germany and the ambivalence that many… Continue reading Eating History