Summer K-12 Teacher Workshop

Looking Forward, Looking Back: Causes and Consequences of the Fall of the Berlin Wall

Workshop Resources and Links

November 20 1961 - Building the WallDecember 21 1989 Dismantling the Wall


WORLD WAR II - BEHIND CLOSED DOORS - PBS Website of the PBS/BBC production from 2009. Episode 3 of the series looks at the end of the War and the factors that led to the Cold War. The website also contains resources for educators and students.

COLD WAR INTERNATIONAL HISTORY PROJECT - The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. A great reference for primary source documents from the Cold War. Featured collections include "The End of the Cold War," "The 1980-81 Polish Crisis," "The Warsaw Pact," and "The 1953 East German Uprising." 

REAGAN, GORBACHEV AND BUSH AT GOVERNOR'S ISLAND - National Security Archive (from December 2008)

THE BERLIN WALL - TWENTY YEARS LATER - A major new volume published by the US Department of State on the legacies of the Fall of the Wall. The volume contains thought-provoking articles, excellent pictures and a number of commentaries including a short "historical reflection" by Jeremi Suri (E. Gordon Fox Professor of History, and Director - European Union Center of Excellence, UW-Madison).

THE LOST BORDER - Photographs of the Iron Curtain by Brian Rose.

BIKING THE IRON CURTAIN TRAIL, WHERE THE COLD WAR RAGED. New York Times Travel Section article by Joshua Hammer from July 26 2009. The article focuses on the stretch of the Iron Curtain between Hessen and Thuringia and includes interviews with Germans who had lived by the border and the Security Zone during the Cold War. 

MAKING THE HISTORY OF 1989 - a project of the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Website contains a wealth of information on the events of 1989 including primary sources, interviews, teaching modules, lesson plans, and case studies. The Introductory Essay contains an overview of the origins of change in Eastern and Central Europe, and a description by each country of the key events leading up 1989 and beyond.

1989: EUROPE'S REVOLUTION - The Year that Reshaped the World BBC News Special Report: Features, Views and Analysis includes Key Events of 1989 (watch and read about the major events leading to the end of Communism), Your Memories (personal accounts of the turbulent year), Solidarity's Story (the role of the Polish trade union in the collapse of Communism), and Kabul Flashback (20 years after the Soviet Union withdrew its forces from Afghanistan).

ON THE MEDIA: TEAR DOWN THIS QUOTE. From NPR, November 6, 2009. An interesting piece about two competing sound bites in the narrative of the Fall of the Wall. (AUDIO with transcript).

STATESMEN ATTEND BERLIN CEREMONY (VIDEO). BBC, October 31, 2009. Three of the key figures who oversaw the fall of the Berlin Wall have met again in the city twenty years on. Mikhail Gorbachev, Helmut Kohl and George Bush Senior are in Berlin to take part in the ceremonies marking the anniversary. An article about this visit is also available from the BBC website here.

THE 1989 REVOLUTION - BBC World Service Special Report - 1989 Europe's Revolution. Includes radio reports, picture files, features, and an interactive timeline for 1989. Features include reports on the legacy of East Germany's sports doping system, the role of the Polish Pope John Paul II and of Catholicism in the fall of Communism, the hidden history of architecture, and the legacy of 1989.  

1989: KEY EVENTS IN EUROPE'S REVOLUTION. BBC News. An interactive timeline of 1989 with links to articles and videos of some of the major events of that year. 

THE LEGACY OF 89 - MEET THE CHILDREN WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD. An article from the Observer from August 2nd 2009 in which people born in 1989 reflect on the revolution of 1989.

A TIME WHEN HOPE REPLACED REPRESSION. An article from the Observer from August 2nd 2009. Reporter Neil Ascherson recalls the events of 1989 and the idealism and anger that drove the protests.

THE ART AND CULTURE OF THE YEAR OF REVOLT. An article from the Observer from August 2nd 2009 in which Observer critics evaluate the cultural impact of 1989. Topics include theatre, art, film, classsical and pop music, dance and literature. 

GALLOWS HUMOUR, EAST EUROPEAN STYLE. From the UK's Telegraph News Website. (November 2, 2009). An article about subversive jokes and anecdotes that were popular in Eastern Europe under Communism despite (and because of) censorship and repression.   

HISTORY BOOKS RE-WRITTEN TWENTY YEARS AFTER THE FALL OF THE BERLIN WALL. (Telegraph, November 2, 2009). In Eastern Europe history textbooks are giving students a fresh look at the recent past. 

PHOTO GALLERY: 1989: A YEAR OF MIRACLES. Spiegel Online (October 30, 2009). 

PUSHING BACK THE CURTAIN - a BBC Website created for the tenth anniversary of the 1989 Revolutions.

A BREAK IN THE FENCE - Newsweek International Report (April 25 2009 - From the Newsweek magazine issue dated May 4 2009). An article by Michael Meyer who was Newsweek's bureau chief for Germany and Eastern Europe in 1989. This article is taken from his forthcoming book The Year that Changed the World to be published by Scribner/Simon & Schuster in September 2009.

HOW TIANANMEN SHOOK EUROPE - BBC News article (June 5 2009). BBC Diplomatic Editor, Brian Hanrahan, looks at the events in China 20 years ago and their effect on Eastern European pro-democracy movements. 

EUROPA: THE EUROPEAN UNION AT A GLANCE. The EU's EUROPA Website includes pages on the history of Europe and the European Union, including sections on:


THE FALL OF THE BERLIN WALL. (AUDIO) Wisconsin Public Radio - Here on Earth (November 9, 2009). Join journalist Michael Meyer and scholar Konrad Jarausch as they discuss the Fall of the Berlin Wall and Germany's path from division to reunification.

HOW A BLUNDER FINISHED OFF THE WALL. BBC (November 8, 2009). Brian Hanrahan on how a mistake in an East German Politburo announcement brought an end to the East German state.  

WHO BROUGHT DOWN THE BERLIN WALL? Foreign Policy Magazine (November 2009) article that outlines different theories on who or what was responsible for the fall of the Berlin Wall.

BERLIN WALL GRAFFITI RETURNS AS LEATHER FASHION (Reuters). A German fashion designer takes inspiration from the Berlin Wall for his new line of clothing. (SLIDE SHOW with link to article).


AUTUMN OF CHANGE. (CNN). Website devoted to the stories marking the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

THE VIEW FROM THE WALL. (November 9, 2009) New York Times readers submitted their pictures and memories of the Berlin Wall, both before and after its fall.

AS WALL CRUMBLED, BERLINERS REBUILT THEIR LIVES. Wall Street Journal (November 7 2009). An article about how ordinary people grappled with the transformation brought about by their new-found freedom. The article includes a detailed interactive timeline containing audio and video clips, slides and maps.

THE BERLIN WALL - TWENTY YEARS LATER. New York Times. Detailed website devoted to the Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall. Includes articles, audio, and a wonderful interactive section showing five notable locations in Berlin before and after 1989.

TWENTY YEARS AFTER THE WALL. From Spiegel Online International. Articles, photo galleries, background features and opinion. 

EAST GERMANY ANSWERS BACK. BBC correspondent William Horsely reports on how East German social values are gaining new respect as the mutual mistrust between East and West Germans diminish (October 31, 2009).

FRANZ STRASSER'S GERMANY (VIDEOBLOG). Franz Strasser is digital producer-reporter for BBC World News America. This video blog is his personal journey through his former home of Eastern Germany, twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

FILM THAT HELPED BRING DOWN THE BERLIN WALL (VIDEO). The BBC's John Simpson reports on the demonstrations in Lepizig in October 1989 that spurred on activists around East Germany. Includes footage of the Lepizig demonstrations taken by a dissident who was expecting to record a massacre. Report from October 9, 2009.

THATCHER OPPOSED UNIFIED GERMANY (VIDEO). Recently published British government papers show that Margaret Thatcher's opposition to German reuinfication was based on concerns that a new unified Germany would become too powerful. (BBC, 10 September, 2009)  

THE BERLIN WALL. A designated webpage on the Guardian website devoted to the Berlin Wall, the events of 1989, and the legacy of 1989. Website includes videos, articles and commentaries.

"THE BERLIN WALL WAS A MONSTER." (VIDEO). Guardian, Monday 19 October 2009. Berliners describe how their city was divided and recount some of the escapes from the East. The first of five films.

LIFE ON BOTH SIDES OF THE BERLIN WALL. (VIDEO). Guardian, Tuesday 20 October 2009. East and West Berliners recall life in the shadow of the Berlin Wall. The second of five films.

RESISTANCE IN A COMMUNIST STATE. (VIDEO). Guardian, Wednesday 21 October 2009. Members of the East German Resistance talk about their opposition to the regime. The third of five films.

THE FALL OF THE BERLIN WALL. (VIDEO). Guardian, Thursday 22 october 2009. Berliners remember the night in November when the Wall came down. The fourth of five films.

BERLIN WALL: 20 YEARS AFTER THE FALL. (VIDEO). Guardian, Friday 23 October 2009. Berliners talk about the collapse of the Communist regime and German reunification. The fifth of five films.

THE "GOOD OLD DAYS" OF EAST GERMANY. The Guardian. Video Report from November 2007 about East Germans flocking to an expo selling communist era goods in Berlin.

89 VOICES - BERLIN. BBC World Service Outlook series - The Outlook series hears from five 20 year olds who were born in 1989. Arno Hoelzer was born in East Berlin and was 8 months old when the Wall came down. Hear his report on Berlin twenty years after the fall of the Wall (AUDIO and Slideshows - September 21, 2009).

RELIVING STASI ISOLATION FOR ART. BBC News (from October 29, 2009). Former East German political prisoner, Carl-Wolfgang Holzapfel, returns to his former Berlin prison voluntarily to spend seven days incarcerated in the name of art. His art project aims to show the role that all 250,000 political prisoners in East Germany played during 40 years of communism.  

THATCHER'S FIGHT AGAINST GERMAN UNITY. BBC News (from September 11, 2009). Article examining Mrs Thatcher's opposition to German reunification based on recently released Foreign Office documents.

THE RISE AND FALL OF THE BERLIN WALL.  Website documenting the travel restrictions between East and West Germany in the 1960's.

2009 - 20 JAHRE MAUERFALL. English version of the City of Berlin's Website for its 2009 Theme Year - 20 Years since the Fall of the Berlin Wall. The website has three main sections which are based on the three highlights of the 2009 theme year: the Peaceful Revolution; the 9th of November; and The Changing Berlin. In addition the website provides information on anniversary activities and events taking place in Berlin throughout the year.

THE PEACEFUL REVOLUTION 1989/90. Bilingual German-English website for the open-air commemorative exhibition at Berlin's Alexanderplatz. Website is divided into three broad sections: Awakening, Revolution, Unity.

BERLIN WALL. Website of The Local - Germany's News in English - includes varied news articles dealing with contemporary problems between eastern and western Germany 20 years after unification. Reports include:    

THE WALL IN THE WORLD. The Goethe Institut's project as part of the Festival of Freedom (Fest der Freiheit) to mark the 20th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall. This intriguing project uses over 1,000 large scale "wall" pieces (dominoes) that are being painted by young people and artists. These wall bricks will then be set up to represent a symbolic border and then toppled over on 9th November like dominoes. What makes this project particularly interesting is that the focus is not solely on the past but has considerable current relevance with wall bricks being sent to and being painted by people living in parts of the world where walls and divisions currently exist (Korea, Yemen, Cyprus, Israel, Palestinian Territories, Mexico and China).

1989/2009: THE FALL OF THE WALL - NEW PERSPECTIVES ON 1989. The Goethe Institut's website containing personal recollections of people in both the East and the West. The informative website contains many wonderful feature articles such as the recollections of the "Children of the Wall" (Wendekinder) who are in their thirties now and who experienced childhood in the GDR.  

UNTOUCHED EAST GERMANY FLAT FOUND. A BBC report from January 2009 about an apartment in Lepizig which had been left undisturbed since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Pictures showing the apartment can be found on the Berliner Morgenpost website.  

GERMANS FLOCK TO NOSTALGIA FILM. A BBC report from March 2003 about the success of the film "Goodbye Lenin".

HOW THE BERLIN WALL WORKED - From HowStuffWorks. This site offers basic information and some video clips.

TIMELINE - BERLIN WALL - Good BBC site with solid information, photos and an interesting video clip before the 1987 entry that captures the feelings and facts of 1981.

DESIGNER GIVES BERLIN WALL ART A FASHION MAKEOVER - From the website of the German Missions to the United States. A fun site for clothing designed for the 20th anniversary of the Fall of the Wall.

BERLIN WALL POWERPOINT - From the Carlisle School in Martinsville, Virginia. A short informative PowerPoint on the Berlin Wall.

GERMAN HISTORY IN DOCUMENTS AND IMAGES (GHDI) - A comprehensive collection of primary written sources (documents are available in German and in new English translations), images, and maps, documenting German social, cultural, and political history since 1500. GHDI is an initiative of the German Historical Institute, Washington DC. All the materials can be downloaded free of charge for teaching and research purposes. The GHDI website contains sections on:

THE BERLIN AIRLIFT ONLINE - Harry S. Truman Library and Museum. The Website includes documents, photographs, and lesson plans on the Berlin Airlift of 1948-49.

THE BERLIN AIRLIFT - PBS American Experience. Includes documents, maps, timelines, and teacher guides.

BITTER-SWEET MEMORIES OF THE BERLIN AIRLIFT - BBC News article (12 May 2009) reports on the 60th anniversary of the end of the Soviet blockade of West Berlin. Former British Pilots, veterans of the Berlin Airlift, recount their experiences of 1948-49. Additional news pages on the BBC Website on the 60th Anniversary include Berlin Pays Thanks to Airlift Veterans,and Berlin Airlift Anniversary Marked (this page includes an audio interview with a German man who recollects his childhood experiences of the Berlin Airlift.

THE COLD WAR IN BERLIN - JFK in History - from the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. The page concerns President Kennedy's visit to West Berlin in the Summer of 1963 and includes recordings of the famous "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech.

ESCAPE FROM GDR/BERLIN - a documentary (Discovery Channel/Green Umbrella) available on Youtube in six 10-minute sections. The documentary provides detailed information about Berlin as a divided (yet united) city until 1961, the reasons for the building of the Wall, descriptions of successful and failed escapes, interviews with Berliners, and tremendous archival footage. Particularly interesting and informative are the graphics that give a clear sense of the size and scale of the Wall, the interviews that describe the first-hand experiences of the population as West and East became increasingly divided, and the euphoria of 1989 when the Wall came down.

  1. Escape from GDR Part 1 
  2. Escape from GDR Part 2
  3. Escape from GDR Part 3
  4. Escape from GDR Part 4
  5. Escape from GDR Part 5
  6. Escape from GDR Part 6

BERLIN WALL ONLINE - website devoted to the Berlin Wall - includes photographs, maps, personal recollections, history, timelines, and archives.

CHRONICLE OF THE WALL - an interactive multimedia website in German with English language pages.

NEWSEUM: THE BERLIN WALL - English language website that includes sections on the use and role of media in both East and West and the history of the Wall. there is also an intriguing section (The Commissar Vanishes) devoted to an examination of the falsification of photographs in Stalin's Soviet Union.

THE PATH TO GERMAN UNITY - Deutsche Welle World's commemorative website marking the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Wall. The site contains wonderful features including popular culture in the East and West, media contributions to the fall of the Wall, a discussion of the cliches about East and West that are still common twenty years after reunification, articles on GDR skater Katerina Witt, and much more.

1989: GORBACHEV VISITS BERLIN - BBC report from October 1989 on President Gorbachev's visit to Berlin in October of that year for East Germany's 40th anniversary celebrations. The report highlights the growing unrest in East Germany at that time amid wide-spread changes in the Communist Bloc.

- an 8 minute video clip on YouTube about the pop band U2 documenting the demise of the East German car the Trabant and its rise as a cultural icon.

THE STOLEN KISS - The Berlin Wall Mural is Erased - Report from The Independent (UK) - 28 March 2009. The most famous mural on what remains of the Berlin Wall has been erased thanks to 20th anniversary renovation work.


BERLIN WALL EAST SIDE GALLERY - a 1.3 km stretch of the Berlin Wall with over 100 paintings and murals. The Gallery is a memorial to freedom and is the largest open air museum in the world.

DIVIDED - UNITED - 50 YEARS OF THE GERMAN QUESTION - From the Haus der Geschichte collection. A virtual exhibition of satirical cartoons from East and West Germany about key historical events between 1949 and 1998.


PRAGUE MARKS VELVET REVOLUTION - (BBC, 17 November 2009). Czechs and Slovaks mark the 20th Anniversary of the Velvet Revolution which brought down the Communist government in Czechoslovakia.

BBC World Service Outlook series - The Outlook series hears from five 20 year olds who were born in 1989. Here Czech student Michaela Plikova talks about Czechoslavakia in 1989 with a unique perspective on the role of secret theatre under communism (AUDIO and Slideshows -  October 20, 2009). 

1989 NEW ERA FOR CZECHOSLOVAKIA - BBC On This Day 24 November 1989

NEWSNIGHT ON CZECH DISSIDENTS 1989 - BBC Newsnight report on a strike by theatre workers in Prague in 1989.


WINDS OF CHANGE FROM THE EAST: HOW POLAND AND HUNGARY LED THE WAY IN 1989 -From Spiegel Online International, October 30, 2009.

HOW HUNGARY LET EAST GERMANS GO -BBC News (from August 19, 2009). In August 1989 Hungary opened its borders allowing hundreds of East Germans to flee to the West. That decision led to the fall of the Berlin Wall three months later.  

THE MAN WHO PULLED THE IRON CURTAIN -BBC News (from October 16, 2009). An article about Miklos Nemeth who became Prime Minister of Hungary in November 1988 and is considered to be the man who made the first crucial breach in the Iron Curtain.

89 VOICES - BUDAPEST -BBC World Service Outlook series - The Outlook series hears from five 20 year olds who were born in 1989. Here Hungarian student Miklos Kerekfy talks about Hungary after communism (AUDIO and Slideshows -  September 22, 2009).

PICNIC FOR FREEDOM -Part of the Goethe Institut website. This article focuses on the first break in the Iron Curtain near the town of Sopron in Hungary. When opponents to the Hungarian regime organized a Pan-European Picnic in August 1989 along the Hungarian-Austrian border, over 1,000 East Germans escaped to the West. Contains an interview with former Hungarian border guard, Arpad Bella, who turned a blind eye to the events of that day despite being aware of the possible personal consequences of doing so.

- includes section on "20 Years After Political Transition"

HUNGARY'S ROLE IN THE 1989 REVOLUTIONS - BBC report on the "low-key but essential" role of Hungary in precipitating the changes in East-Central Europe in 1989. Includes an interview with Imre Pozsgay, who, in 1989, was a key figure in Hungary's reform-minded Communist leadership.

MEMENTO PARK (Budapest) Website. After the collapse of Communism, Hungary - like all Eastern Bloc countries - was left with a large number of unwanted Communist era statues. The solution? To create an open-air museum housing these relics of the failed political system.  

HOW LITHUANIA GRASPED FREEDOM (from the BBC Wesbite 6 July 2009)


WINDS OF CHANGE FROM THE EAST: HOW POLAND AND HUNGARY LED THE WAY IN 1989 -From Spiegel Online International, October 30, 2009.

LECH WALESA: "I WOULD HAVE DONE THINGS BETTER" -(Telegraph, August 24, 2009). Adrian Bridge interviews Lech Walesa and asks him if - twenty years after the overthrow of communism - he is happy with the result.

89 VOICES - WARSAW -BBC World Service Outlook series - The Outlook series hears from five 20 year olds who were born in 1989. Here Anna Napiorkowska talks about Poland after communism, and her hopes for the future. (AUDIO and Slideshows -  September 22, 2009).

SOLIDARITY'S LEGACY - BBC News (from 12 August 2005)



DARING TO QUESTION THE ROMANIAN REVOLUTION -BBC News Online, December 21, 2009. Was Romania's 1989 Revolution simply a palace coup?

ROMANIA'S BLOODY REVOLUTION REMEMBERED -BBC News Online, December 16, 2009. An article commemorating the 20th anniversary of the start of the revolution in Romania when a crowd gathered outside a Reformed Church in Timisoara to prevent the arrest of an ethnic Hungarian minister by the Securitate.

20 YEARS ON: WHAT DID ROMANIA'S REVOLUTION ACHIEVE? -BBC News Online December 16, 2009. BBC video report on how Romania has changed since 1989.


89 VOICES - BUCHAREST -BBC World Service Outlook series - The Outlook series hears from five 20 year olds who were born in 1989. Cristina Pasat is a student in Bucharest. She reports on a visit to the notorious Jilava Prison, a relic of the Communist system. (AUDIO and Slideshows - September 23, 2009).

ROMANIA'S BLOODY REVOLUTION -BBC News article from 1999 looking back on the events of 1989 in Romania and the violent end of Nicolai Ceausescu's 21 year rule.

ROMANIA'S REVOLUTION OF 1989: AN ENDURING ENIGMA - New York Times article (31 December 1999) looking at the events of 1989 in Romania on the tenth anniversary of the fall of the Ceausecus.
FIRST STEPS IN RUSSIAN DEMOCRACY - BBC News (from 26 March 2009) An article marking the 20th anniversary of the first parliamentary elections in the Soviet Union where non Communist Party candidates appeared on the ballot.

. Another website from the BBC. This time from 2001 marking the tenth anniversary of the collapse of the Soviet Union. The site includes a Timeline, Interactive Map, Special Features and a Photo File.

BEATLES IN THE USSR. BBC World Service radio broadcast (originally aired on February 13 2009) available for download or as a podcast. This documentary reveals the remarkable ways that the Beatles' music was listened to in the USSR (bootlegged copies of smuggled vinyl records were made on medical X-Ray film sheets). The documentary also also asks if the music and spirit of the Beatles contributed to the end of Communism.  

GORBACHEV'S ROLE IN 1989 TURMOIL - BBC Report (April 1, 2009)

HOW 1989 FANNED FLAMES IN UKRAINE - BBC Report (June 10, 2009). 

REFORM, COUP AND COLLAPSE: THE END OF THE SOVIET STATE - Professor Archie Brown examines the reasons for the collapse of the Soviet Union. Another BBC Website - BBC History: The Cold War.

THE SOVIET UNION'S LAST STAND - Malcolm Brinkworth looks at the last days of the Soviet Empire and asks why the end of the USSR happened with so little violence. BBC History: The Cold War.

GORBACHEV DEFENDS CONTROVERSIAL LEGACY - Brian Hanrahan, BBC News (September 20, 2009).

GORBACHEV: RUSSIA 20 YEARS AGO AND NOW. (VIDEO) BBC's Brian Hanrahan's Interview with the former Soviet leader (September 20, 2009).

20 YEARS SINCE ICONIC GORBACHEV TOUR. (VIDEO) BBC's Brian Hanrahan reports from Bonn 20 years after President Gorbachev's influential visit to the then capital of West Germany (June 12, 2009).