October 17: Hope M. Harrison on the Legacy of the Berlin Wall

The October 17th Washington History Seminar featured Wilson Center Public Policy Scholar Hope M. Harrison on the contested legacy of the Berlin Wall.

Since the Wall fell in 1989, most Germans have wanted to get rid of as much of it as possible and look to the future.  Recently, however, there have been important moves to preserve parts of the Wall and explain the history behind it.  Harrison argued that the Wall continues to expose fault lines in German society and foster important historical debates. Germany is in the midst of a second reckoning with the past — not about the Holocaust, but about the years that followed — years in which the East German communist regime not only stood behind the Berlin Wall, but in one way or another dominated the lives of East and West Germans alike.

Hope M. Harrison is also Associate Professor of History and International Affairs at George Washington University.  Her books include the prize-winning Driving the Soviets Up the Wall: Soviet-East German Relations, 1953-1961 (2003) and the updated German version, Ulbrichts Mauer, published to wide acclaim in 2011 for the 50th anniversary of the building of the Wall.

A webcast of Harrison’s seminar is available at The Contested Legacy of the Berlin Wall.

The Washington History Seminar is a collaboration of the Wilson Center and the National History Center, with support from the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations. To be added to the list for e-mail announcements of upcoming seminar sessions, please contact National History Center associate director Marian J. Barber at mbarber@historians.org.