Last Saturday Germany marked the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall with numerous events. It was in the night of November 9, 1989 that the Berlin Wall was opened and East German citizens could freely visit the western part of Berlin. In the coming days, the whole border between East and West Germany would be opened. The fall of the Berlin Wall was the culmination of the dramatic events of autumn 1989 when the citizens of East Germany took to the streets to demand freedom of speech and the press and the freedom to travel. In October 1989 when the communist leadership wanted to celebrate 40 years of East Germany the citizens found their voice and made their demands heard. Within a year East Germany was unified with West Germany in a process of rapid democratization.
This post is written by David Lowe, who retired from our department in April. We hope it is the first of many retirement-era contributions.
When in August 2001 the University Library acquired its copy of Roland Jaeger’s New Weimar on the Pacific: the Pazifische Presse and German exile publishing in Los Angeles, 1942-48 (862.c.504), a history of the small private press which published eleven German language titles between 1942 and 1948, we had none of the books in the collection. That omission has now been partly rectified, and in recent years we have bought four titles, three of them presented by the Friends of the Library from the legacy of Mrs Margaret Green, wife of the former Schröder Professor of German Dennis Green.
One of the probably less known areas which we collect is photography in the GDR. Cambridge University Library thus has a substantial collection on the topic. One publisher is particularly active in that field, called Lehmstedt Verlag, and we have a substantial number of their publications on the topic. However, there is of course a variety of publishers from which we acquire such material. Our collections include various academic books about the topic that can be borrowed, although a lot of the material we acquire is heavily illustrated and/or an exhibition catalogue and therefore cannot be taken out of the building. A few of those books recently caught my attention as they crossed my desk:
War clouds: Paris and London
On 27 February 1933, Trude and Josef watched distant flames from the Reichstag fire from a balcony. This was the turning point for them. The Judas, plus Fred and some of her cousins who were Zionists, planned to leave Hitler’s Germany at once. Their parents’ generation felt established in society in spite of the Nazi threat: “Why should a war hero and successful businessman have to run away?” Eugen gave Trude and Fred a bag of gold each as a parting gift. The Judas , their furniture and the library went to Paris, Fred to the USA, and the cousins to Israel and Brazil.
In Paris, the Judas became part of a milieu of intellectuals, writers, painters etc., forming friendships with several, including Nicholas Monsarrat, author of The Cruel Sea. Here also the marriage came to an end. Continue reading