30 year anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall

9 November 2019 marks 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall that divided East and West Berlin.

History behind the wall

As the Second World War ended Germany’s land was divided. The east of Berlin went to the Soviet Union and the west went to the United States of America and Great Britain. The Soviets blockaded West Berlin in order to get the allies to retreat. Instead, the US began what was known as the ‘Berlin Airlift’ by delivering food and goods by air.

After this time, many people were fleeing from eastern territory into the west. To prevent the flow of citizens crossing the border for good, in two weeks a wall was built by the Soviets and anyone spotted trying to escape was immediately shot.

The fall of the wall

On 9 November 1989, the East Berlin communist party announced that the citizens were free to cross the border. Soon the wall began to come down using the help of cranes, bulldozers and even their own bare hands. The fall of the Berlin wall was seen by the citizens as the final end to the war.

Information sourced from https://www.history.com/topics/cold-war/berlin-wall

Hampshire Libraries hold books with information about the Berlin Wall and first hand accounts from the people who lived through this fractious time.

Hampshire Library Booklist

Checkpoint Charlie : the Cold War, the Berlin Wall and the most dangerous place on Earth / Iain MacGregor.

This is a powerful, fascinating, and ground-breaking history of Checkpoint Charlie, the legendary and most important military gate on the border of East and West Berlin where the United States and her allies confronted the USSR during the Cold War.

The tunnels : the untold story of the escapes under the Berlin Wall / Greg Mitchell.

In the summer of 1962, one year after the rise of the Berlin Wall, a group of daring young West Germans risked prison, Stasi torture and even death to liberate friends, lovers, and strangers in East Berlin by digging tunnels under the Wall. Then, as the world’s press heard about the secret projects, two television networks raced to be the first to document them from the inside, funding two separate tunnels for exclusive rights to film the escapes. In response, President John F. Kennedy and his administration, wary of anything that might raise tensions and force a military confrontation with the Soviets, maneuvered to quash both documentaries.

Forty autumns : a family’s story of courage and survival on both sides of the Berlin Wall / Nina Willner.

When Nina’s mother Hanna was just 20 years old, she escaped to West Germany with nothing more than a small satchel and the clothes on her back. It was the dawn of the Cold War. Hanna left her parents, siblings and everything she had ever known behind. ‘Forty Autumns’ traces the dramatic lives of the family on both sides of the Iron Curtain. Hanna eventually moved to America where she gave birth to Nina and her brother. Years after Hanna’s brave escape to the West, Nina found herself working as an Army Intelligence officer in Berlin, leading secret operations just miles away from the family her mother left behind all those years ago.

When the wall came down : the Berlin Wall and the fall of Soviet Communism / Serge Schmemann.

With full-colour maps and photographs throughout, this title presents the story of the Berlin Wall, from construction to destruction, from the point of view of a journalist who covered its fall.

Stasiland : stories from behind the Berlin Wall / Anna Funder.

In this book, Anna Funder tells the stories of people who found the courage to resist the Stasi, the communist regime’s secret police.

The Undertaking by Audrey Magee

About the book

A soldier on the Russian Front marries a photograph of a woman he has never met. Hundreds of miles away in Berlin, the woman marries a photograph of the soldier. It is a contract of business rather than love. When the newlywed strangers finally meet, however, passion blossoms and they begin to imagine a life together under the bright promise of Nazi Germany. But as the tide of war turns and Allied enemies come ever closer, the couple find themselves facing the terrible consequences of being ordinary people stained with their small share of an extraordinary guilt…

Reviewed by Wallington Village

Depressing – we knew what was going to happen. A profound and disturbing subject. Although the ending needed to be sad, didn’t like it. A very detached style.

star rating – none provided

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The Innocent by Ian McEwan

About the book

The setting is Berlin. Into this divided city, wrenched between East and West, between past and present; comes twenty-five-year-old Leonard Marnham, assigned to a British-American surveillance team. Though only a pawn in an international plot that is never fully revealed to him, Leonard uses his secret work to escape the bonds of his ordinary life – and to lose his unwanted innocence. The promise of his new life begins to be fulfilled as Leonard becomes a crucial part of the surveillance team, while simultaneously being initiated into a new world of love and sex by Maria, a beautiful young German woman. It is a promise that turns to horror in the course of one terrible evening – a night when Leonard Marnham learns just how much of his innocence he’s willing to shed.

Reviewed by BBC Boater’s Book Club:

Generally it was considered that the book reflected the times well with good characterisations. It was well written and everyone wanted to finish it.

Star rating: *** to ****

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