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6. The Fall of the Berlin Wall, 1989
About this Lecture
In this module, we think about the events that led to the collapse of the Berlin Wall on 9 November 1989, focusing in particular on: (i) the importance of high-level politics, but also of people on the ground in East Germany; (ii) the deportation of political dissidents by the East German regime, e.g. Wolf Biermann in 1976; (iii) the importance of the Helsinki process in putting pressure on the status quo in East Germany; (iv) the increase in civil disobedience in East Germany, including the Monday prayer meetings at the Nikolaikirche in Leipzig, which began in 1981; (v) the tension between those protestors who wanted to leave East Germany and those who wanted to stay and reform it; (vi) the Tiananmen Square protests and massacre in China in June 1989, and the lack of political will within the SED to enact a similarly violent crackdown on protests in East Germany; (vii) Günter Schabowski's 'accidental' announcement on 9 November 1989; (viii) the wider European context of the opening of the border: democratic elections in Poland, the opening of the border between Hungary and Austria, etc.; (ix) the influence of West Germany in pushing for a particular result in East Germany; and (x) the extent to which the East German protestors achieved what they wanted.
In this course, Professor Patrick Major (University of Reading) explores the history of East Germany from the end of the Second World War to the fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November 1989. In the first module, we think about the origins of East Germany in the years immediately following the Second World War. After that, we think about Stalin's blockade of Berlin between May 1948 and June 1949 and the Berlin Airlift, before turning in the third module to consider the economy of East Germany between 1948-89. In the fourth module, we focus on the anti-government protests that took place across East Germany on 17 June 1953, before turning in the fifth module to consider the events that led to the erection of the Berlin Wall on 13 August 1961. Finally, in the sixth module, we think about the events that led to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of East Germany.
Patrick Major is Professor of History at the University of Reading. His research interests are primarily the political, social and cultural history of divided Germany in the Cold War. He has recently completed a large project on the rise and fall of the Berlin Wall, and is currently undertaking a project on Anglo-American and German film depictions of 'bad Nazis' and 'good Germans', which has been funded by the British Academy.
Cite this Lecture
Major, P. (2021, March 23). Germany – East Germany, 1945-89 - The Fall of the Berlin Wall, 1989 [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://www.massolit.io/courses/germany-east-germany-1945-89/the-fall-of-the-berlin-wall-1989
Major, P. "Germany – East Germany, 1945-89 – The Fall of the Berlin Wall, 1989." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 23 Mar 2021, https://www.massolit.io/courses/germany-east-germany-1945-89/the-fall-of-the-berlin-wall-1989