University of Massachusetts Amherst

WALL STORIES – 25 Years Later – UMass Amherst Campus Weeks 2014 

Art and Essay Competition — Film Screenings — Role-Play Simulation — Exhibits — Symposium

From October until December 2014, the UMass Program in German & Scandinavian Studies, History Department and DEFA Film Library will host Campus Weeks to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

East Germany’s peaceful revolution in 1989, leading to the fall of the Berlin Wall, ended the Cold War and changed the world. At the same time, it was ironic that the Wall came down precisely on November 9, as this date is also associated with trauma in German history. All events are open to members of the Five Colleges and the general public. 

Wall Stories


  • ART AND ESSAY COMPETITION open to all Five College students

We encourage students from all the Five Colleges to ponder one or more of the following topics in an essay or artwork:

  • What does the Berlin Wall mean to different generations?
  • Living life with walls, in the past and in the present
  • The use of films and videos as historical witnesses
  • Problematizing November 9 as a day of multiple commemorations
  • The Wall as canvas

All members of the UMass community can now stream East German films year-round through the UMass Library’s website! Look for the [East] German Film Collection at

The Collection includes over 200 feature films, documentaries and cartoons produced in East Germany from 1946 until 1990. These films tell stories about daily life and culture, entertainment and politics in East Germany before the fall of the Wall. Supported by UMass Amherst Libraries. 


  • SYMPOSIUM: Medium, Method, and Message in Cultures of the Cold War

October 3, 2014, 9:30am – 4:45pm, UMass, 601 Herter

This interdisciplinary symposium with pre-circulated papers brings together scholars working on Cold War culture. Focusing primarily on Germany as both a real and an imagined site where the Cold War was practiced and performed, transnational encounters and exchanges will be at the core of our discussions. (East and West) German cultural, historical, and theoretical discourses will be considered in connection with the Turkish, American, African, and Spanish contexts that influenced and inflected them.

Participants in the roundtable conference are: Seth Howes (Univ. of Missouri), Diogenes Costa-Curras (UMass Amherst), Matthew D. Miller (Colgate Univ.), Katherine Pence (Baruch College), Kira Thurman (Univ. of Akron), Jon Olsen (UMass), and Ela Gezen (UMass Amherst). See also

  • FILM SCREENING: Leipzig in the Fall (1989, dirs. Andreas Voigt, Gerd Kroske, doc.) Thurs. Oct. 9, 7:00pm, UMass, 227 Herter

The most comprehensive documentation of events surrounding the 1989 Monday demonstrations in Leipzig, East Germany, including interviews with demonstrators, members of the citizens’ rights movement, officials and bystanders. This screening will be followed by a reception.

Introduced by Skyler Arndt- Briggs, UMass Amherst.



From October 19 to November 5, the German filmmaker Siegfried Kühn is the 2014 Artist-in-Residence at the DEFA Film Library. During his stay, Kühn will present his work in a public film series. All screenings followed by a Q&A with the director.

Mon., Oct. 20, 7:00pm, UMass, SOM 137

The Second Life of Friedrich W. G. Platow (1973)

Introduced by Skyler Arndt-Briggs, UMass Amherst.


Tues., Oct. 21, 7:00pm, UMass, 227 Herter

Time of the Storks (1970)

Introduced by Victoria Rizo Lenshyn, UMass Amherst.


Mon. Oct. 27, 7:30pm, Amherst Cinema

Childhood (1986)

Introduced by Barton Byg, UMass Amherst.


Wed. Oct. 29, 7:00pm, UMass, 277 Herter

Elective Affinities (1974)

Introduced by Jason Doerre, Trinity College.


Thurs., Oct. 30, 7:00pm, National Yiddish Book Center

The Actress (1988) and Traces (1989, dir. Eduard Schreiber)

Introduced by Jonathan Skolnik, UMass Amherst.


  • FILM SCREENING: My ‘89 (2009, dirs. Stepan Altrichter, Konrad Kästner, Josephine Frydetzki, Esti Amrami, Jöns Jönsson and Banu Kepenek)

Mein 89

Wed. Nov. 12, 7:00pm, UMass, 227 Herter

Introduced by Katrin Bahr, UMass Amherst. The screening is followed by a Q&A with director Helke Misselwitz.

The production of these six short films by her students was supervised by director Helke Misselwitz at the Konrad Wolf Filmuniversität Babelsberg. These shorts are particularly captivating because of the international view presented by the personal reflections that these young directors communicate in recounting their experience of the events of 1989.

English subtitles for several of these shorts were produced by UMass students in the Thatcher Language Program, with the help of the DEFA Film Library.

Supported by the Konrad Wolf Filmuniversität Babelsberg.


Wed. Nov. 12, 6:00-10:00pm, 2nd floor lobby of Herter Hall Annex

During this event, an exhibit designed by graduate students in Public History will be on display outside the screening venue. The exhibit addresses commemorating November 9th as a historic date with multiple historical meanings in German history.


Fri. Nov. 14, 3:00pm, UMass, Thatcher Language House

Students are invited to the downstairs lounge in Thatcher Language House to meet director Helke Misselwitz, who advised the six young filmmakers who directed My ‘89, and chat with the filmmakers themselves via Skype. Refreshments will be served.



From Nov. 11-18, UMass welcomes back director Helke Misselwitz—who was presenting her film Winter Adé at UMass Amherst 25 years ago. She was here on the very night the Wall came down!

Thurs. Nov. 13, 7:30pm, Amherst Cinema

Herzpsprung (1992)

Introduced by Barton Byg, UMass Amherst. The screening is followed by a Q&A with director Helke Misselwitz.

Johanna, a young mother and widow, lives in the little town of Herzsprung. Almost nothing has changed since German unification, except the rise in unemployment and racism, which also affect Johanna’s life.


Mon. Nov. 17, 7:00pm, UMass, 227 Herter

Winter Adé (1988, doc.)

Introduced by Victoria Rizo-Lenshyn, UMass Amherst. The screening is followed by a Q&A with director Helke Misselwitz.

Shortly before GDR’s collapse, the director interviewed women of different ages and backgrounds all over East Germany. This groundbreaking documentary caused a sensation when it premiered. In it, women reveal their personal and professional frustrations, hopes and aspirations—and, in doing so, paint a portrait of a changing society.

  • FILM SCREENING: Last Year Titanic (1991, dir. Andreas Voigt, doc.)

Thurs. Nov. 20, 7:00pm, UMass, TBA

Following his film Leipzig in the Fall (see October 9 screening), director Andreas Voigt decided to continue following the lives of people in Leipzig. This film covers the period from December 1989 through 1990—the last months of the GDR and the first months in united Germany. The director paints an important picture of this historic period in German history filled with social and economical insecurity. With introduction and Q&A by the director. 



The East German “Central Round Table”

Thurs. Dec. 4, 4:00 – 6:30pm, UMass, 601 Herter

Organized by the Department of History, this role-playing simulation will re-enact the Central Round Table that was set up in December 1989. The Round Table was a forum in which representatives of the new citizens’ movements and of the East German government, parties and organizations discussed reforms to be undertaken in the country until new national elections could be held.

This is a participatory event. Those attending will be placed into “teams” representing the various groups and receive a briefing booklet with an overview of the “current” situation in the GDR from their own perspective, as well as a list of goals they wish to achieve. We will then open up the Round Table session and each “team” will try their best to achieve their goals. In the end, we hope to gain a better understanding of the situation that existed just after the fall of the Berlin Wall and how East Germans planned for their future.

For a complete listing of all events:

All events organized by German and Scandinavian Studies, the Department of History and the DEFA Film Library at UMass Amherst.

Special thanks to the following partners for making these events possible: the German Embassy, the German Information Center USA, Max Kade Foundation and the DEFA Foundation Berlin. At UMass Amherst: College of Humanities and Fine Arts; Department of Languages, Literatures & Cultures; German and Scandinavian Studies (LLC); Department of History; DEFA Film Library; Fine Arts Center; UMass Print Services. In the Four Colleges: Smith College German Department; Amherst College Department of German; Hampshire College of Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies; the Department of German Studies at Mount Holyoke College; the Five College Faculty Seminar in German Studies. Local organizations: Amherst Cinema, Yiddish Book Center, Emily’s Amherst B&B. And in Germany: PROGRESS Film-Verleih, Konrad Wolf Filmuniversität Babelsberg, durchblickreisen.