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The Great Fall: A personal timeline

Updated Monday 3rd November 2014

Read a timeline of an Open University lecturer's experiences of the fall of the Berlin wall.

April 1988:
As a German teacher in France, I accompany a class of 14-year-old French students on a study trip to Berlin. Highlight is the day visit to East Berlin. Countless administrative hurdles have been overcome: every student’s passport photocopied three times, three extra passport photos for each child; day visa arranged; our French bus is checked thoroughly inside and out at the checkpoint; then our SED-approved official GDR guide climbs aboard: the moment to pass into East Berlin has arrived.
 
The students are glued to the windows and questions spill out: 'Why are there so few cars?' 'Where is the advertising?' More than anything, the children want to know about the history of the Wall, and its future.
 
'Will the Wall always be there?' they ask me. 'Do you not want to see it removed, and as a German, see your country reunited?'
'No,' I say. 'I think the Wall will always be there, unless World War Three breaks out. So all in all we might be better off with the Wall.'
 
October 1989:
I move to Britain, my little car packed with my belongings travelling eastwards on the Autobahn 43. Wrong direction, I think. Behind me, in Berlin, world history is being made. A month later it is.
 
June 1990: 
I travel to France to visit my old school colleagues. Her son happens to have been on the 1988 Berlin trip so he challenges me: 'Miss, you were wrong! Miss, were you there when the Wall came down? Have you got a piece of the Wall?'
 
I laugh: 'Yes I was totally wrong. And as it happens I do have a piece of the Wall.' Not sure if authentic but he does not ask. A relic of German history in a sleepy French backwater. On his windowsill.
 

Read more articles from Open University academics about their knowledge and experiences of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

 

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