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The fall of the Berlin Wall: new perspectives 25 years on

Dr Hester Vaizey, Lecturer in Modern German History, Clare College, Cambridge University

Date/Time: 23rd October 2014

The night of 9 November 1989 was full of excitement as East Berliners poured across the newly-opened border points, curious to see what it was like on the other side of the Wall. Some sank their teeth into a Big Mac for the first time, whilst others sipped from their first can of real Coca Cola. Almost all were wide-eyed with amazement at the range of goods on offer in West Berlin’s supermarkets.


The Western world beckoned, with the prospect of freedom of travel, freedom of expression and crucially, democracy. But how did this huge change play out in the daily lives of East Germans? Was the end of Communism a relief? This lecture will discuss the serious upheaval to daily life prompted by the fall of the Berlin Wall, showing how one event was experienced universally but was felt very differently in each life.


Speaker biography

Dr Hester Vaizey is a Lecturer in Modern German History and a Fellow of at Clare College, Cambridge. Her first book, Surviving Hitler’s War: Family Life in Germany 1939-1948, was shortlisted for the Women’s History Network Prize and won the Fraenkel Prize for Contemporary History.

Her most recent book, Born in the GDR. Living in the Shadow of the Wall, tells the stories of eight East Germans who went from living under communism one minute to capitalism the next after the Berlin Wall fell.