Course Description

The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 was a significant turning point in world history, not only marking the end of the Cold War but a new chapter in international democratic freedoms. But how can we explain the building of such a dividing monument? How can we account for its fall in 1989? And how does the Wall influence our lives today? This one-day course will examine the historical context of Cold War Europe and the intimate stories of the people whose lives were affected by the rise and fall of the Wall. In addition to the lectures, students will be exposed to recently declassified archival documents and multimedia from the Checkpoint Charlie Museum in Berlin as well as guest speakers who grew up in divided Germany.

Course Details

By completion of this course, successful students will be able to:

  • Identify key people, forces, and events that cause the division of Germany and the construction of the Berlin Wall
  • Describe the diversity of experiences of living on either side of the Wall
  • Trace and analyze the events that led up to the fall of the Wall
  • Explore the problems of reform and reintegration in the "New Germany"
  • Discuss the influence of the Wall on Germany's current political and economic status in Europe and the World

Matthew Bucholtz finished his doctorate at the University of Calgary under the supervision of Dr Holger Herwig. Entitled, “Republic of Violence: The German Military and Politics, 1918-1923,” the manuscript was a combination of new trends in military research as well as an history of emotions, mapping out political and military uses of fear, anxiety, and intimidation. Bucholtz has taught for numerous years at the University of Calgary in the departments of History and International Relations. He has published articles on German history, most recently “Fighting Over the Front Experience: Communist and Socialist Veterans, 1918-1919,” as well as an upcoming article on the short-lived women’s league of the Stahlhelm organization. His research focuses on civil-military relations in Germany and the role of violence in civil society.


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