Skip to content
Health, Sports & Psychology

Programme 1: The Ghosts of Berlin

Updated Thursday 20th December 2007

The Open University is teaming up with BBC Radio 4's Thinking Allowed for an occasional series of special programmes. In the first - due for broadcast December 26th 2007 - the city of Berlin is centre-stage.

Laurie Taylor Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: BBC

Berlin is haunted by histories.

The twentieth century brought defeat in the first world war and the abdication and exile of the king. It brought a Nazi government and war with much of Europe and the devastation of the German capital. It then brought a division which left one half of the city in Communist control and the other half marooned in a foreign country.

Memories of these histories are carved into the infrastructure of modern Berlin. As the process of unification develops, what is remembered and what is forgotten, what is re-used and what is demolished, bedevils and divides the capital of Germany as it tries to position itself for a global future.

A legacy of Soviet war memorials dwarf the human scale of the housing estates of the edge of the city, as an international treaty prevents them being torn down. Arguments still rage over what should replace the East German Palace of the Republic and whether reinvention of a Prussian style of architecture does more than paper over the cracks of the past. Ministries in the new capital have moved into some of Hitler's grand buildings, but is chiselling the Eagles off Goering's Air Ministry and fixing a glass portico over the entrance, enough? The holocaust memorial; the Jewish museum; Hitler's Bunker; the Stasi records; the 'death strip' on the East Side of the Wall…which needs a memorial, and what should be left unmarked?

A classic sociological work, The Ghosts Of Berlin by Brian Ladd documented the unique challenges for the changing Berlin in the late 1990s. Ten years on, in association with the Open University, Laurie Taylor returns to Berlin to update the story and discover how successful Berlin has been in taming or exorcising its unruly ghosts.

Laurie will be meeting Bruno Flierl, a former Urban Planner from the East of the City who believes the DDR is being airbrushed out of history. He will be talking to Professor Werner Sewing about the dangers of an attempt to rally the city round a common Prussian history and to Professor Lena Schulz-zur-Wisch about how memorials can paradoxically serve to isolate difficult memories so that cultures can forget.

Talking about the link between the Open University and the programme, Sue Hemmings, Social Sciences Staff Tutor, says:

"The Faculty of Social Science and Thinking Allowed share many core interests and values - both are keen to present up to the minute social science research to as broad a public as possible and to stimulate informed interest and debate. We bring our different strengths to the partnership and I look forward to building on those as we develop new programme ideas and make new connections with our audience."

On January 2nd, Laurie will host a discussion about the themes explored in the Berlin programme - a discussion that you are invited to continue on our forums.

Listen to the Berlin programme
Listen to the cities and memory discussion programme
Problems listening? You'll need RealPlayer - visit the BBC RealPlayer help page if you have trouble.

 

For further information, take a look at our frequently asked questions which may give you the support you need.

Have a question?

Other content you may like

The July Crisis: Immediate reactions Creative commons image Icon By lebstock (The New York Times) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons under Creative-Commons license article icon

History & The Arts 

The July Crisis: Immediate reactions

A diplomatic crisis in 1914 led Europe towards war. Find out what happened after Franz Ferdinand's assassination.

Article
The Rest Is Noise: Berlin in the '20s and '30s Creative commons image Icon Work found at en.wikipedia.org / CC BY-SA 3.0 under Creative-Commons license article icon

TV, Radio & Events 

The Rest Is Noise: Berlin in the '20s and '30s

2/3 Mar: Cabaret, paranoia and Fascism. The Rest Is Noise looks at Germany's centre of political and artistic dramas.

Article
Visiting Berlin Creative commons image Icon Sandruz via Flickr under Creative-Commons license article icon

Languages 

Visiting Berlin

This section introduces you to websites where you can plan and timetable your exploration of the German capital and where you can find out what’s on where.

Article
Berlin map: Architecture Creative commons image Icon MatHampson via Flickr under Creative-Commons license article icon

Languages 

Berlin map: Architecture

Berlin is a city of social as well as architectural experimentation. Find out how architects creatively make use of the buildings and spaces in Germany's capital.

Article
Berlin map: Spaces Creative commons image Icon SebastianNiedlich via Flickr under Creative-Commons license article icon

Languages 

Berlin map: Spaces

Explore where political division has left barren lands as a reminder of separation, and where rivers run through and form natural openings.

Article
Imagination and the city discussion Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: BBC audio icon

Society, Politics & Law 

Imagination and the city discussion

Thinking Allowed gathered a group of city-experts at Broadcasting House to explore what makes cities so attractive.

Audio
15 mins
Strangers In Marseille Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Used with permission article icon

Health, Sports & Psychology 

Strangers In Marseille

When burning cars and race riots tore at the fabric of France, how did its most diverse city manage to escape unscathed? In the second programme in The Open University’s new broadcasting partnership with Thinking Allowed, Professor Laurie Taylor explores the unique racial geography of France’s second city.

Article
Brian Ladd interview: Ghosts of Berlin Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: BBC audio icon

History & The Arts 

Brian Ladd interview: Ghosts of Berlin

Laurie Taylor interviews Brian Ladd about Berlin, the haunted city. This is an extended version of the interview broadcast on BBC Radio 4's Thinking Allowed.

Audio
15 mins
Timewatch: Revisiting Omaha - discussion Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: Production team audio icon

TV, Radio & Events 

Timewatch: Revisiting Omaha - discussion

John Farren chairs a discussion about the difficulties of making accurate TV history, taking the Timewatch Bloody Omaha programme as a starting point.

Audio
30 mins