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Herodotus in the Long Nineteenth Century traces the impact of Herodotus' Histories during a momentous period in world history - an era of heightened social mobility, religious controversy, scientific discovery and colonial expansion. Contributions by an international team of specialists in Greek historiography, classical archaeology, receptions, and nineteenth-century intellectual history shed new light on how the Histories were read, remembered, and re-imagined in historical writing and in an exciting array of real-world contexts: from the classrooms of English public schools and universities to the music hall, museum, or gallery; from the news-stand to the nursery; and from the banks of the Nile to the mountains of the Hindu Kush. They reveal not only how engagement with Herodotus' work permeated nationalist discourses of the period, but also the extent to which these national and disciplinary contexts helped shape the way both Herodotus and the ancient past have been understood and interpreted.
While the Berlin government was making major strides in the mid-2000s in remembering the Wall and commemorating its victims with the Gesamtkonzept, several memory wars played out in the process of institutionalizing federal policy regarding the Berlin Wall.
While the conflicts with the Sophien parish played out over creating a Berlin Wall Memorial, and a whole site for remembering the Berlin Wall in the former death strip, Manfred Fischer oversaw activities in his own parish to remember the Wall and its victims.
With the toppling of the Berlin Wall and soon thereafter the East German SED regime, Horst Schmidt wanted to make sure “the murderers” at the Wall would pay for what they had done. His twenty-year-old son Michael had been killed on December 1, 1984 while trying to escape across the Berlin Wall. When the Wall fell, Horst and his wife Dorothea “could not feel anything of the excitement…they would have felt without Michael’s tragic death.
For many years after the fall of the Wall, a small minority of memory activists worked to counter the majority impulse to remove the Wall from the landscape and from memory. The combination of the physical dismantling of the Wall, the joyous performances of Beethoven, and the trials connected to deaths at the Wall were all meant to draw that period of German history to a close and allow people to move on, even as others were focused on the deeper, more problematic past connected to the Holocaust.
Since the fall of the Wall, memory activists had long centered the memory of the Wall on victims, particularly those killed trying to escape. Manfred Fischer’s efforts to preserve the Wall as a “crime scene,” the erection of the Kohlhoff & Kohlhoff memorial at Bernauer Strasse, Alexandra Hildebrandt’s cemetery of crosses at Checkpoint Charlie, Berlin’s master plan (Gesamtkonzept) for remembering the Wall, and the federal government’s plan for memorials (Gedenkstättenkonzeption) were all illustrative of this focus. This would remain the case with the expansion of the Berlin Wall Memorial Site at Bernauer Strasse. Simultaneously, however, a contentious process of examining and remembering the perpetrators also took place, yet this time outside of the courtroom.
On October 31, 2004, two weeks in advance of the fifteenth anniversary of the toppling of the Wall, the director of the private Checkpoint Charlie Wall Museum, Alexandra Hildebrandt, unveiled 1,065 wooden crosses in memory of the people killed at the Berlin Wall and along the entire former East German border.
After years of putting the memory of the Wall aside, followed by a period of focusing on the victims of the Wall and finally on proud celebration of the brave and peaceful East German people who pushed open the Wall, the official narrative as well as its contemporary relevance changed again in the wake of the 2015 refugee crisis in Germany and the resulting rise of right-wing, sometimes violent, extremism in Germany.
Just as there is a spectrum of views on the role of border soldiers in the system surrounding the Berlin Wall, so Germans have differing perspectives on the attitudes and policies of both East and West Germans regarding the Wall when it stood, on the reasons for its fall, and its legacy.
Until 2009, the main focus of public discussions and commemoration of the Berlin Wall in Germany had been on the victims and particularly those who had been killed at the Wall by East German border soldiers. The Wall represented “a difficult past” that people either shied away from or addressed by commemorating the victims.
Thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989, people around the world still remember the joyous drama of that night and the days and nights that followed. Even at a time before smartphones and Twitter helped people experience an event together, the surprise opening of the Berlin Wall was viewed by millions on television sets and splashed across headlines around the globe. For Berliners and Germans, dramatic days followed that would change their lives and their country.
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, this book profiles key memory activists who have fought to commemorate the history of the Berlin Wall and examines their role in the creation of a new German national narrative. With victims, perpetrators and heroes, the Berlin Wall has joined the Holocaust as an essential part of German collective memory. Key Wall anniversaries have become signposts marking German views of the past, its relevance to the present, and the complicated project of defining German national identity. Considering multiple German approaches to remembering the Wall via memorials, trials, public ceremonies, films, and music, this revelatory work also traces how global memory of the Wall has impacted German memory policy. It depicts the power and fragility of state-backed memory projects, and the potential of such projects to reconcile or divide.