Offsite Event: History, Memory, and Politics: A Symposium on the 20th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall and its Legacy, 1989-2009

March 06, 2009 // 11:00am3:45pm
Event Co-sponsors: 
History and Public Policy Program

The peaceful demise of the Berlin Wall beginning on November 9, 1989, symbolized for many the end of the Cold War. What remains of the Berlin Wall? How is the Wall treated as a site of memory? How have the victims of the Wall been commemorated? What are the plans to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the peaceful fall of the Berlin Wall in November 2009? Is there a consensus in Germany on understanding the place of the Berlin Wall and the division of Germany in German history, or is this contested? Who are the main organizations and groups involved in assessing this history? How do the practices of commemoration in Germany fit in to broader European practices of commemoration in the 21st century?

These questions and many others will be addressed in this half-day symposium co-sponsored by Wilson Center's History and Public Policy Program, the George Washington University's Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies and Seminar on History, Memory and Politics.

The Elliott School of International Affairs
The State Room, 7th floor
1957 E St., N.W.
Washington, DC
RSVP by March 3, 2009 using the RSVP link, above, or by email to, attn: March 6

Lunch and keynote address – 12:00-1:30

"Between Civil Society and the State: The Performance of the Past in the 21st Century,"

  • Professor Jay Winter, Charles J. Stille Professor of History, Yale University, author of Remembering War: The Great War Between Memory and History in the Twentieth Century, and Sites of Memory, Sites of Mourning: The Great War in European Cultural History

Panel 1 – 1:30-3:00

"The Downfall and Resurrection of the Berlin Wall,"

  • Chair, Christian Ostermann, Director, History and Public Policy Program and Director, (West) European Program, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
  • Professor Hope M. Harrison, Director, Institute for European, Russian & Eurasian Studies, and Associate Professor of History and International Affairs, Elliott School, George Washington University, author of Driving the Soviets Up the Wall: Soviet-East German Relations, 1953-1961
  • Axel Klausmeier, Director, Berlin Wall Memorial, Berlin, Germany, author of Wall Remnants, Wall Traces, and Former Lecturer in the Department of the Protection of Monuments at Brandenburg Technical University in Cottbus, Germany

Panel 2 – 3:15-4:45

"Overseeing the Landscape of Memory Concerning East Germany and the Division,"

  • Chair, Professor Mary Beth Stein, Associate Professor of German and International Affairs, George Washington University
  • Rainer Klemke, Director of the Berlin Senate Working Group on Museums with Federal Participation, Memorials and Contemporary History as well as Director of the Berlin Senate Working Group on Remembering the Berlin Wall in the Senate Department on Cultural Affairs, Berlin
  • Jens Huettmann, Director of the Project on Twenty Years Since the Peaceful Revolution at the German Federal Foundation on Reappraising the East German Past, Berlin

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Experts & Staff

  • Christian F. Ostermann // Director, History and Public Policy Program; Global Europe; Cold War International History Project; North Korea Documentation Project; Nuclear Proliferation International History Project
  • Laura Deal // Catalog Specialist
  • Pieter Biersteker // Editorial Assistant
  • Charles Kraus // Program Associate
  • Evan Pikulski // Program Assistant
  • James Person // Deputy Director, History and Public Policy Program; Cold War International History Project; North Korea Documentation Project; Nuclear Proliferation International History Project