The Fall of the Berlin Wall: 30 Years Later

Few expected the Berlin Wall to come down on November 9, 1989, or that it would set off a great tidal wave of change across Germany, Europe, and the world.

AICGS celebrates the thirtieth anniversary of the fall of the Wall with commentaries and analysis looking at events as they unfolded and how we remember them, the impact of a unifying Germany on domestic policies in East and West, the role of the transatlantic partnership, and understanding the divisions today.

Look to the very heart of Europe, to Berlin, and you will see a great truth shining brighter with each passing day: The quest for freedom is stronger than steel, more permanent than concrete.
– George H.W. Bush, November 11, 1989

Divided We Stand

On the Resilience of the Political East-West Divide in Germany 30 Years After the Wall’s Fall While Germany is commemorating the 30thanniversary of the Berlin Wall’s fall, which paved the …


German Approaches to Remembering the Berlin Wall, 1989-2019

The history and meaning of the Berlin Wall remain controversial, even three decades after its fall. Drawing on an extensive range of archival sources and interviews, Dr. Hope Harrison’s new …


Inner Unity Revisited

Convergence Amid Differentiation Do the terms East and West still matter in unified Germany? The short answer is yes, in particular when analyzing selected elements of voting patterns, living standards, …


Deutschland einig Muttiland?

The Transformation of Women’s Rights in United Germany, 1989-2019 Characterized as “the triumph of the Vaterland,” unification was both a  male-dominated and male-normed process, despite the significantly different gender regimes …


The Fall of the Wall as a Memory of Joy

Few countries have had to grapple with such a complex historical legacy as Germany. Among the many challenging issues arising from this past has the been the dynamic between appropriately …

Witness to History: An American in Berlin for the Fall of the Wall

I think often of the good luck I had in moving to West Berlin in September 1989. The dramatic events of the months ahead were to leave memories that greatly …

Thirty Years After the Fall: The Lessons of 2019

As we commemorate the fall of the Berlin Wall, one lingering question remains. Why were so many people shocked when it happened? We had enough warning. There was no reason …

Great Expectations: Germany, America, and the Fall of the Berlin Wall Thirty Years Later

As Germany commemorates the thirtieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, a look back to 1989 and the expectations that surrounded that momentous event reveals some that were …

Anticipating Uncertainty: Lessons from 1989 for 2020

As we approach the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, some of us might recall where we were when we heard the news of …

Deutschland einig Mutti-Land?

Characterized as “the triumph of the Vaterland,” unification was a male-normed, male-dominated process, despite the significantly different gender regimes found in the two German states through 1989. In July 1990, Helmut Kohl …

Embarking on a New Path of Partnership: Thirty Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall

On Saturday, we mark the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.  It was one of the most momentous political developments in a generation—the climax of the peaceful …

Inner Unity and Regional Diversity

The unification of the two German states in 1990 prompted expectations of harmonization in political culture and promises of equivalent living conditions. Almost three decades later, the revival of narratives …

Fifty Years since Ostpolitik. How Willy Brandt’s Diplomacy Transformed Europe

It is fifty years since the start of Willy Brandt’s Ostpolitik. Brandt was a peculiar figure in contemporary history. Brandt’s dropping to his knees in front of the Warsaw Ghetto …

Episode 09: Legacy of the “Hinge” Years: 1990 to Today

Divided Germany was a microcosm of the standoff between West and East, and the Berlin Wall was the iconic symbol of the Iron Curtain (listen to Episode 2 with Mary …

Episode 02: The Wall: Legacy of Divided Berlin

When the Berlin Wall fell on November 9, 1989, it was a surprise to many. For an entire generation, the Berlin Wall was the most iconic physical manifestation of the …

Project Description

On November 9, 2019, we mark the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. It was one of the most momentous political developments in a generation—the climax of the peaceful uprising that brought freedom to 17 million East Germans and led to the unification of Germany less than twelve months later. A round anniversary of a joyous event leaves us prone to nostalgia, especially when the images of November 9, 1989, are so easy to recall, with jubilant crowds atop the Berlin Wall, literally surmounting and shattering the edifice of their division and oppression. That is all the more reason to pause and consider the deeper roots and the sacrifice inherent in the toppling of communism in central and eastern Europe in 1989, and why the United States’ relationship with Germany has been central to American goals in Europe and more broadly for seventy years.

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