Dancing on the Wall

East Germans Celebrating on Top of the Newly Opened Berlin Wall, November, 1989

It’s 1988, and the eastern bloc is coming apart at the seams. Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia are all inching toward freedom. East Germany, though, clings to a rigid and repressive system built on fear and a wide ranging network of informers.

Maike Neustadt lives in East Berlin. She watches and then joins the movement toward freedom that eventually leads to the fall of the Berlin Wall.

General Helmut Straussman watches Maike from his high position in the secret police, known as the Stasi. He sees his world crumbling and seeks to protect her from her own actions and to protect the system he’s been instrumental in maintaining.

“Dancing on the Wall” provides a window on the turbulent year leading up to the fall of the Berlin Wall. Told from two radically different perspectives, the events of that crucial time come alive through the fears, the mistakes, and the aspirations of Maike and Helmut.

A West German man uses a hammer and chisel to chip off a piece of the Berlin Wall as a souvenir. A portion of the Wall has already been demolished at Potsdamer Platz.

Dancing on the Wall is filled with historical scenes, events, and images. These web links can help to bring this era to life by providing photographs, videos, and articles about life in East Germany.

The Spreepark

Ted Talk about the Stasi

The Night The Berlin Wall Fell (BBC)

The Fall of the Wall (Slate)

Life Under Communism

The Pan-European Picnic

Gorbachev Visits Berlin

Photos of the Wall’s History

Movies about East Germany and the Cold War. There are several movies that offer glimpses of life in East Germany. All are fiction, but still evocative. My favorite is “The Lives of Others” but if you want to immerse yourself in the subject, watch them all.

The Lives of Others

Never Look Away

Cold War

Goodbye Lenin

Bridge of Spies

Documentaries about the Cold War. There are also movies worth watching that can enrich perspectives on the Cold War and Berlin.

Rabbits a la Berlin. A documentary about wild rabbits living in the Death Strip of Berlin.

Busting the Berlin Wall

Rise and Fall of the Wall

Modern Marvels: Devices of the Berlin Wall

The Stasi

David Hasselhoff’s Story of the Wall

Links to web resources about East Germany can be found here.