Philipsen,  We Were, cover

Dirk Philipsen,
We Were the People: Voices from East Germany

Chapter 1 (pp. 35-55):

"The Troubled Emergence of an Idea"

(Duke Univ. Press, 1993)

for Hist 133c, Winter 2006
(OCR text; pdf for printing; course homepage)

page 35
page 38
page 40
page 45
page 50
page 55
Book Table of Contents

This 1990 interview with two East German dissidents illustrates several important features of the origins of the movement that led to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989:

  • The ambivalence between dissatisfaction and acceptance of the government by the generation that came of age while or after the Berlin wall went up in 1961 (these two oppositionals were born in 1943 and 1950, respectively).
  • The importance networking and exchange of information between oppositional groups.
  • The crucial role of activities in "peripheral" cities (i.e. not Berlin).
  • The sources of dissatisfaction: nuclear missiles, environmental degradation, hypocrisy of state, ...
  • The role of the Western media in disseminating information to the East German populace.
  • The space for organizing provided by the Church.

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