Saturday, August 13, 2011

On the 50th Anniversary of the Building of the Berlin Wall: Guest-blogger Eva C. Schweitzer on 5 Links to Learn More about the Berlin Wall

I must be getting old but it really does seem like yesterday that I walked into my office and, from a tinny radio, heard the first absolutely astonishing news about the fall of the Berlin Wall. For those of us born in the early 60s, the Berlin Wall, had seemed a feature of the European landscape as immovable as any mountain-- and then, in a blink, it was smashed to rubble and carted off, in part, as souvenirs.

Guestblogs usually run on Wednesdays but this week I had to make an exception, for August 13th is the 50th anniversary of the buidling of the Berlin Wall and apropos of that, I am delighted to run this post by Berlinica's founding editor, Dr. Eva C. Schweitzer. Berlinica is one of the most unique small presses in the US. Based in New York, its niche is Berlin: books on Berlin as varied as guides, histories and novels, as well as music and movies.
Links to Learn More About Berlin
By Dr Eva C. Schweitzer

The other day, I visited Zwingli Church in Berlin; a protestant church in the Eastern district of Friedrichshain. The church is a museum today, it has a new exhibit about the Berlin Wall. It is fairly close to where the Wall has been, at Oberbaumbrücke, today a fancy riverside strip with many restaurants. The Wall has been built fifty years ago on the day, on August 13, 1961. There is a lot of rememberance going on in Berlin in these weeks, exhibits, speeches, debates, architectural models, but this one I found especially touching, because my father was baptized in Zwingli Church.

The exhibit showed a dozen people who were living in the area in 1961; black-and-white pictures, and memories. It tells stories about families that were torn apart overnight, young men that were shot or jailed trying to rescue their girlfriends, children stuck in the wrong part of town. It seemed so long ago, with those children dressed in lederhosen, and women wearing buns, and aprons. My father could have been one of them, but he left Berlin in 1944, due to the war, and never returned. Actually, after the Wall was built, most people in the Western part of Berlin left.

Now, living in New York, I'm part of that huge wave of memories that is sweeping Berlin. I have founded a Berlin-themed publishing company, Berlinica Publishing LLC that brings Berlin books, music, and movies to America. Our newest book is The Berlin Wall Today, a color picture guide about everything that is left of the Wall, in English and German. There are only three long stretches left, at Bernauer Straße, the Museum of the Topography of Terror, and the East Side Gallery. But there are smaller parts as well, hidden within Prussian cementaries, in back yards, or guarding train tracks or lofts. There is also a Berlin Wall Trail, which leads the visitor to interesting spots. Two slabs of the Wall are also standing in front of Zwingli Church.

So, check out the book, and also, some of the exhibits if you are in Berlin!

Berlin Wall TodayThis is our book at Amazon. It is also available at, and you can order it in an Barnes and Noble bookstore (or so I hope!)

This is the exhibit in Zwinglikirche, near S- and U-Bahn Warschauer Straße. It is open from Thursday to Sunday, 4 pm to 7 pm.

This is a clip on YouTube about where the Wall has been, posted by the city agency Berlin Partners. It is architectural model of Berlin in the 1960s and later.

The German Historical Museum in Berlin Unter den Linden has a photo exhibit about surviving with the Wall, by Thomas Hoepker and Daniel Biskup.

This is an exhibit at the New Museum in New York City, Ostalgia; about people who miss the East and living in the GDR.

Dr. Eva C. Schweitzer

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P.S. Check out Berlinica's fascinating forthcoming titles also.
---> For the archive of Madam Mayo's guest-blog posts, click here.
Recent guest-bloggers include Sam Quinones on true tales, Eric D. Goodman on train stories, and Susan Coll on comic novels.