The Berlin Wall was a guarded concrete barrier that physically divided communist East Berlin from West Berlin from 1961 to 1989. Its purpose was to prevent citizens from fleeing the communist German Democratic Republic for the freer and more prosperous West. There were many daring escapes, but more than 100 escapers were killed by the guards. The building of the Wall symbolized the hardening divisions in the Cold War. Two U.S. Presidents made famous speeches at the Wall, and the fall of the Berlin Wall marked the end of the Cold War. In each class there will be discussion of assigned chapters from our text, The Berlin Wall: A World Divided, by Frederick Taylor. We will look at world leaders such as Kennedy, Khrushchev, Reagan, and Gorbachev, as well as German leaders Ulbricht, Adenauer, Brandt, and Honecker. We’ll examine East German government and its infamous Stasi secret police force, of which Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal said "The Stasi was much, much worse than the Gestapo, if you consider only the oppression of its own people.” We will also hear the human stories of ordinary Germans on both sides of the Wall, and we’ll see how the Wall was documented by its contemporaries in words and pictures.
ZOOM LINK: Available to paid and registered members on our website https://assumptionwise.org/Course-Zoom-Links
INSTRUCTOR: David Nevard is a retired IT professional. While in high school, he took advanced courses at Brandeis, including European Politics, which started a lifelong interest in the history and politics of Europe. His wife’s family were displaced persons after World War II which inspired a WISE course on Displaced Persons.
REQUIRED BOOK: The Berlin Wall: A World Divided, 1961-1989 by Frederick Taylor, Harper 2007. ISBN 9780060786144.