Cold War Stories:  Life in Divided Berlin 1945 - 1989 with Lauren van Vuuren

Cold War Stories: Life in Divided Berlin 1945 - 1989 with Lauren van Vuuren


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Can't make this time? A video recording will be sent to all participants after the seminar.
Description

Originally a make-shift compromise reached by the four victorious powers of the Second World War, Berlin's division in 1945 was never meant to be long-term. However, as the lines of the Cold War hardened, the city became the symbolic flashpoint of a new global conflict, and its division morphed into permanency. 

In this seminar, we ask, what was it like living in Berlin when it was divided between 1945 and 1989? What was daily life like in a place that embodied the global fault lines between East and West, Communist and Capitalist, American and Soviet worlds? In answering these questions, we encounter stories that are in parts evocative, funny, tragic, and revealing. We examine aspects of architecture, education, culture, and consumerism on both sides of Berlin. We look at how life functioned practically during the division, how infrastructure (including transit systems) functioned when the Berlin Wall divided it, how West Berliners traveled in and out of the Walled City, and how the East Germans guarded their borders. And we ask, how did West Berlin become a mecca for counter-culture, and what was it like being a punk in 1980s East Berlin? How did people on either side of the city imagine their neighbors on the other side, and how much did they interact with one another? And how different were East and West Berliners from each other when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989?

Led by an expert on twentieth-century Berlin history, Dr. Lauren van Vuuren, this Conversation will explore the extraordinariness of ordinary life during the city’s division, and reveal the city in the perplexing shades of its Cold War years.  Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with a far greater picture of what the Berlin Wall actually meant from inside its realm, and make traveling to see its remnants in the city today a far richer and deeper experience.
About Your Expert

Dr. Lauren van Vuuren is a South African born historian currently living in Berlin. As an AW Mellon Fellow and then lecturer at the University of Cape Town she taught and researched across a range of subjects from the history and theory of warfare and violence, to representations of the South African and German past on film. In December of 2012 she came to the Free University as a research fellow in contemporary history, and encountered the most compelling world she had ever experienced: Berlin. Then, the sheer weirdness of the gloomy winter city merged with her understanding of its recent past to convince her of the utter uniqueness of Berlin as a place, and as an idea. Within a year she had permanently relocated to the city. Today she researches, writes about, and teaches on the twentieth century history of Berlin. Sharing the stories of this excoriating place has become an enduring joy for her. She is the recipient of the South African Thomas Pringle award for short story writing in 2013 and is currently collaborating with a photographer on a book of stories and photographs about Berlin.

Audience

This conversation is suitable for all ages.

Duration

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

Customer Reviews

Based on 4 reviews
100%
(4)
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h
harriet segal (Huntingdon Valley, US)

Excellent

B
Björn Kley (Berlin, DE)

I loved the compassionate and wonderful way she lead us through a difficult part of history.

A
Anonymous (Phoenix, US)

Guest did not leave comment

L
Linda Hoagland (Lafayette, US)
Comprehensive and interesting review of aspect of the Cold War

Very interesting presentation of a part of the Cold War I was not that familiar with. There was a lot of information given out in the 90 minute span--good use of time management

Customer Reviews

Based on 4 reviews
100%
(4)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
h
harriet segal (Huntingdon Valley, US)

Excellent

B
Björn Kley (Berlin, DE)

I loved the compassionate and wonderful way she lead us through a difficult part of history.

A
Anonymous (Phoenix, US)

Guest did not leave comment

L
Linda Hoagland (Lafayette, US)
Comprehensive and interesting review of aspect of the Cold War

Very interesting presentation of a part of the Cold War I was not that familiar with. There was a lot of information given out in the 90 minute span--good use of time management