East Germany

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Despite Concerns, Germany to Put Stasi Files in Archives

East German secret police kept records on millions of citizens

(Newser) - Over the objections of historians and dissidents of the era, Germany is moving the files of the notorious East German secret police to the national archives. Parliament approved the transfer on Thursday, the BBC reports. The Stasi compiled millions of files on citizens during the Cold War and tried to... More »

Reassembly of Shredded Stasi Files Hits a Snag

'We currently don’t have a scanner that we can work with'

(Newser) - "Sometimes, I got so engrossed that I forgot to go home," Elke Kinzel told Pacific Standard back in August. "How could one not get engrossed in such kind of work? It is like you have been given fragments of people's lives and are asked to tell... More »

Teen Writes to Favorite Radio Program, Gets 2 Years in Prison

How a BBC program gave East Germans a way to speak their minds

(Newser) - Karl-Heinz Borchardt is a lecturer at Germany's University of Greifswald. But 47 years ago, he was an 18-year-old being removed from his family's home in East Germany and hauled off to jail by the secret police. Borchardt's crime? Writing letters to his favorite radio program. The BBC... More »

East German Who Hailed Fall of Berlin Wall Dies

(Newser) - Guenter Schabowski, the senior East German official whose cryptic announcement that the communist country was opening its fortified border precipitated the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, died Sunday at 86. Politburo spokesman Schabowski's halting words at the conclusion of a plodding evening news conference on Nov. 9,... More »

25 Years Ago Today, the Wall Came Down

Merkel salutes end of era, move 'reclaiming freedom'

(Newser) - As Germany celebrated the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall today, German Chancellor Angela Merkel honored the memory of the 138 people who died there and paid tribute to those who helped bring down the Wall, calling its collapse an example of the human yearning for freedom.... More »

Berlin Wall Turning Into Kitschy Tourist Trap

Many fear a 'Cold War Disneyland': Der Spiegel

(Newser) - Today marks the 50th anniversary of the start of construction on the Berlin Wall, prompting Der Spiegel to assess how Germany is handling its Cold War legacy. Answer: With kitsch, and lots of it. Entrepreneurs have found ways to capitalize, primarily in irreverent ways. They're trying everything from guided... More »

Berlin Wall Shooting Game Sparks Fury

Victims' relatives slam 'tasteless' border guard game

(Newser) - Sunday marks the 20th anniversary of German reunification—and the German people are none too pleased with a video game that was set to launch that day. In 1,378—named for the length of the wall, in kilometers—players can assume the role of border guards and shoot or... More »

Germany Celebrates Fall of the Wall

Twenty years later, unified country celebrates togetherness

(Newser) - Fireworks illuminated the rainy skies above Berlin as Germans and high-profile visitors came together today to commemorate the fall of the Berlin Wall exactly 20 years ago. President Obama unexpectedly joined the festivities—in a video greeting introduced by Hillary Clinton. "There could be no clearer rebuke of tyranny,... More »

Post-1989 Germany an Unexpected Success

Successes in Europe would boggle a 1989 mind: Applebaum

(Newser) - As “the exhaustive and perfectly blameless celebrations” of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall unfold, Anne Applebaum has a bone to pick. The festivities are “focusing on what didn’t happen rather than what did,” she writes, treating “the past two decades... More »

Germany Hails Anniversary of Berlin Wall's Fall

Dominoes, fireworks, music help mark 20 years

(Newser) - Hundreds of foam dominoes will fall today in Berlin, symbolizing the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe on the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has called Nov. 9, 1989, "the happiest day in recent German history," will lead the festivities.... More »

Domino Wall to Fall on Berlin Anniversary

'Domino-Aktion' to mark 20 years since Berlin Wall toppled

(Newser) - Twenty years after a domino effect of resistance toppled Communist regimes across Europe and brought down the Berlin Wall, the Germans are trying it again with actual dominoes. Volunteers have crafted almost 1,000 8-foot-tall Styrofoam dominoes and plan to assemble them along the path of the old Wall through... More »

Thatcher Urged Gorbachev to Block German Reunification

British leader warned Soviets that the change would endanger security

(Newser) - Margaret Thatcher called on Mikhail Gorbachev to halt German reunification months before the Berlin Wall came down, newly unearthed Kremlin documents reveal. Thatcher—telling the Soviet leader he should disregard NATO pronouncements on the issue—said the breakdown of the Warsaw Pact wasn't in the interests of the West, the... More »

Beck Dons GDR Getup: Too Timid to Do Nazi?

Host scales new heights of stupidity for cover of Arguing With Idiots

(Newser) - Glenn Beck's decision to don an old East German army uniform for the cover of his latest book is as ridiculous as the paranoid rantings that no doubt lie within, Silbey writes at the Edge of the American West. It's not clear what statement Beck's trying to make, Silbey notes,... More »

Semenya Tests Reveal 'Triple Testosterone'

(Newser) - Pre-race World Championship blood tests on super South African runner Caster Semenya revealed testosterone levels three times typical female rates, a source tells the Telegraph. The results of the tests, carried out in South Africa, contributed to a decision by sports officials to call for "gender verification" tests on... More »

Hungary Fetes 1989 'Picnic' That Led to Fall of Berlin Wall

Provided escape from Communism for East Germans

(Newser) - Hungary is celebrating the 20th anniversary today of its “Pan-European Picnic”: the day it opened its border with Austria, providing a pathway for hundreds of East Germans to exit Europe’s communist east. “The Soviet bloc was like an air balloon with over-pressure so it needed only a... More »

20 Years Later, Berlin Starts Saving Wall

(Newser) - After many years of indifference, Berliners have started getting serious about saving what's left of the most famous symbol of the Cold War, Der Spiegel reports. When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, locals viewed it as merely an unfortunate reminder of  a bad past and little thought was given... More »

Poll: Half of East Germans Positive on Communism

Nostalgic Germans believe life was better before the Berlin Wall came down

(Newser) - They may not be pining for the Stasi or the Trabant, but half of people recently polled in the former East Germany are thinking, in hindsight, that Communism wasn't so bad after all, Der Speigel reports. Nearly 20 years after the Berlin Wall came down, the poll finds  that 49% ... More »

Merkel Backs Obama on Mideast

(Newser) - Angela Merkel got behind Barack Obama’s Middle East peace push today, calling his Cairo speech the “ideal basis” for renewed efforts. Obama called for “difficult compromises,” adding, “The United States cannot force peace upon the parties.” The two leaders met and spoke at a... More »

Lightning-Rod W. German Cop Unmasked as Stasi Spy

Revelation likened to discovering Kent State shooters were KGB agents

(Newser) - The West German cop whose shooting of an unarmed protester in 1967 changed the country forever has been unmasked as an East German spy by historians going through Stasi files, the New York Times reports. The shooting sparked a wide, sometimes violent left-wing protest movement many believe spawned Germany's current... More »

German Tempers Heat Up Over Cold War Tourist Traps

'Snackpoint Charlie,' actors in military uniforms labeled disrespectful to dead

(Newser) - The Disneyfication of Cold War landmarks in Berlin has irked people with bad memories of East Germany, the Independent reports. Critics, including former Allied officers and those who suffered under oppressive rule, argue that the atmosphere around places like Checkpoint Charlie—where actors in military uniforms hustle tourists for coins... More »

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