The wall is gone but the DDR shirt remains

West German captain Franz Beckenbauer shakes hands with East German captain Bernd Bransch at the 1974 World Cup.

West German captain Franz Beckenbauer shakes hands with East German captain Bernd Bransch at the 1974 World Cup.

THIS WEEK marks the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall, but while the wall and the Deutsche Demokratische Republik are gone, memories and memorabilia of the DDR are still going strong.

The German Department of NUI, Galway is hosting a series of events to mark the fall of the wall including the opening of an exhibition on the events of 1989 and the screening of a documentary on Ostalgie and the DDR.

On Monday at 5pm in AM 204, first floor, Arts Millennium Building, the exhibition Bruchzonen/Breaking Points will be launched.

This bilingual exhibition, produced by students of the German Department, documents aspects of the 1989 revolution that changed the face of Europe. It provides insights into life in the former DDR, shows how some people managed to get past the ‘Iron Curtain’, and reflects upon the economic and ideological changes after the fall of the Wall.

The exhibition features rare original exhibits and includes a wealth of original sources and a video installation. There will also be a wine reception.

In the former East Germany (officially known as the DDR ), and particularly in the former East Berlin, the evidence of the Communist era is all around you in the buildings, statues, and even in the traffic lights! The are stalls selling surplus East German army goods, DDR flags, and service medals. At Checkpoint Charlie you can have your passport stamped with the ‘hammer and compass’ coat of arms of the DDR, and shirts with that logo are also available.

This is known as Ostalgie, the nostalgia and positive feelings many East Germans have about aspects of life in the DDR. This will be explored in the documentary film My DDR T-shirt which will be screened on Monday at 6.30pm in the Patrick F Fottrell Theatre of the Arts Millennium Building.

The film was made by Ian Hawkins and was inspired by his 2005 trip to Berlin. When Ian bought a souvenir T-shirt with the East German coat of arms on it, he realised he needed to learn about life in the DDR before he could wear it.

He returned to Berlin with his camcorder and set about gathering stories in both East and West. These stories and the people who tell them helped Ian to understand what life was like in East Germany. After the screening Ian will take part in a Q&A with the audience.

Admission to both events is free and all are welcome.

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