Tag Archives: Berlin Wall

October 3rd, Germany celebrates “Tag der Deutschen Einheit” – The German National Day

Today Germany celebrates its National Day, the “Tag der deutschen Einheit” !

Today Germany commemorates the reunification of Germany. After WW II Germany got divided into East and West Germany. A fortified wall made sure that interaction between these two Germanys was limited and especially controlled .

Many Germans never believed that they would ever witness a unified Germany again, but November 9th, 1989 should catch them by surprise.

On this fateful day in history the East German government declared that all East Germans were free to go to the West and visit West Germany and West Berlin. Germany and the world went wild! Impactful, dramatic images of that day still captivate us today.

So why don’t we celebrate our German National Day on November 9th after all?

November 9th happens to be a day for a variety of  historical events in Germany, and not all were such that they should be honored or remembered positively on a day that shall celebrate the National day of Germany .

November 9th was the day on which the German republic was proclaimed in 1918, and it was also a November 9th when Hitler’s first coup in 1923 was defeated. This ominous date however also marks the anniversary of the Reichskristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass) in 1938, the day of the first large-scale Nazi-led pogroms against Jews.

November 9th therefore did not seem an appropriate date for the German National Day.

October 3rd was chosen instead since this was the day in 1990 when the formal reunification took place.

October 3rd replaced the date of June 17, which used to be the date for “The Day of German Unity” during the days of the BRD ( The Federal Republic of Germany).

Images: Pixabay.com



A Personal Lesson in German History


A Personal Lesson in German History

Have you read Author Dieter Kermas recent article “Das Erste Mal Durch Die Mauer?”  If not, I highly recommend it.  I find it very fascinating to hear about experiences from people who have lived during a time of major historic events.  Back in the days, when my grandma from my mother’s side was still alive, I begged her to keep telling me stories about World War ІІ.  Since I (obviously) wasn’t alive at that time, I tried to imagine how life was back then through my grandma’s stories.  And boy, did she have experiences to share!

She explained to me how she felt the earth shaking from bomb fire while she and her family were puckered up in an underground bunker.  Another story consisted of her sister losing her baby while in the bunker because of a lack of breast milk.  She also told me how it felt to be part of the Bund Deutscher Mädel, the female youth organization during the Nazi regime, which was part of the Hitler Youth.

I was beyond impressed by what my grandmother had to live through during her long life.  The world we live in today is far from peaceful; we do live in a time surrounded by war and terrorism.  Thankfully, so far I wasn’t personally impacted, meaning that I haven’t lost a relative or friend through a terror attack nor was I the victim of one.  I would not know how to deal with something that terrible, while my grandma endured several losses and tragedies in her lifetime.

These personal experiences really sparked my interest in history.  Unfortunately, I had a really bad history teacher during High School, who made the subject unbearable and unnecessarily boring.   Due to that, I lost interest in the subject, and my hunger for experiencing German history myself kind of subsided for the next couple years.

I know it might be a shame to admit, but I had never visited Berlin until 2010.  I just didn’t really feel the urge to travel much around Germany when I was younger.  That changed after I came back from my Au Pair stay.  I developed an incredible urge to travel, and if it would just be for a weekend.

It just so happened that one of my Au Pair friends, who I met in the states, moved to Berlin after she came back from the U.S.  She invited my other good Au Pair friend Doreen (name changed due to privacy) and me to come visit her in Berlin.  Finally I was going to visit the capital of the country I grew up in and could experience a grand piece of German history first hand.

My friends and I crammed every possible Berlin sight into our two day stay.  Of course, we couldn’t miss the Brandenburger Gate or the German Parliament.  But the monuments that struck me the most were the Holocaust Memorial and the remaining pieces of the Berlin Wall.  Those brought back the imaginations, and I was finally able to grasp what my grandmother used to tell me about.

While at the Holocaust Memorial, some darkness overcame me.  Not from the clouds in the sky that were hanging above us that day,  but rather from what the Holocaust represented during World War ІІ.  It was beyond saddening to see those hundreds of ceramic stones on the cold ground, each one representing the victims of the horrendous concentration camps.  We can all just pray that something like this is never going to repeat itself.


Checking out the remaining parts of the Berlin Wall, also known as the “East Side Gallery”, which represents freedom, was more uplifting.  I don’t remember any of the news coverage from 1989 when the wall fell, but seeing those monument parts from such a big part of German history was just amazing.  Each of those pieces still represents the fate and pain so many people had to endure during that certain time period.

This trip definitely had an impact on me and made me realize how appreciative we can be of not having to endure a world war at first hand.  Let’s keep praying that it will stay that way.

Images: © Anne-Kathrin Schulte
Anne-KathrinAnne-Kathrin Schulte, is a contributor for CaliforniaGermans.com. She writes on her personal experience of the American Dream as well as on working as an au pair in CA. She was born and grew up in Düsseldorf, Germany, where she completed her degree as a state-approved Kindergarten teacher. After her au pair engagement in the US and a quick return to Germany she decided to attend university in California and moved back to the United States. She has been living in Southern California since 2011.

If you would like to contact Anne-Kathrin, please send an email to californiagermans(at)gmail.com and place her name in the subject line.



The Fall of the Berlin Wall – November 9, 1989

English: The Fall of the Berlin Wall, 1989. Th...

30,415 GDR citizens fled to West Berlin in July 1961, which was the highest number of refugees per month since 1953. After that event the GDR started with the building of the Berlin Wall on August 13th, even though just in June 1961 First Secretary of the Socialist Unity Party, Walter Ulbricht, had declared “Nobody intends to build a wall”.

After years  of a divided Germany, dramatic events like the Berlin Blockade, and many  frightening attempts of East-Berliners fleeing the repressive country GDR, the Berlin Wall fell on November 9th, 1989 .

Anchorman Hans Joachim Friedrichs proclaimed then on ARD’s Tagesthemen, “This is a historic day. East Germany has announced that, starting immediately, its borders are open to everyone. The GDR is opening its borders … the gates in the Berlin Wall stand open.”

The Berlin Wall was a phenomena not only for foreigners, but also for Germans who were non-Berliners. It seemed strange how within a country one part of a capital city belonged to a different regime. The Berlin Wall and its historical situation inspired writers and filmmakers around the world, and continues to stay a topic of great interest even nowadays .

“Deutsche Lese-Ecke” on California Germans

Stay tuned for quite a different Berlin Wall story by CaliforniaGermans’ author Dieter Kermas tomorrow.

“Welche Mauer?”, a short story written all in German, will also start our “Deutsche Lese-Ecke” category, where you will be able to find periodic new postings of short stories, poems and excerpts of larger works exclusively in German.

Sources: Berlin.de, wikipedia
Photo: wikipedia

Berlin Wall Dedication in Mountain View


Please join the Dedication Ceremony for the two 10 feet tall Berlin Wall segments that have been donated to the city of Mountain View by the Golzen Family, who had purchased them when the Berlin Wall came down in 1989.

They now found a new home at the Mountain View Public Library and will be a permanent installation in front of the library .

The ceremony will include guest speeches by the Germany‘s Consul General in San Francisco and the Golzen Family. The German International School of Silicon Valley will accompany the event with music.

WHEN: November 14th, 2013 at 3pm

WHERE: Mountain View Public Library, 585 Franklin Street

Berlin Wall Dedication NoCal.



Villa Aurora – Artists Residence and Cultural Meeting Point in Los Angeles



Villa Aurora in Pacific Palisades is a place where German, European and American culture meet.

Originally the private domicile of German-Jewish novelist Lion Feuchtwanger who had bought the villa in Pacific Palisades in 1943, Villa Aurora quickly became the meeting place for exiled German intellectuals and their American colleagues.  Artists and scholars from different disciplines gathered at Villa Aurora for readings and musical evenings, for celebrations and discussions. Albert Einstein, Bertold Brecht,Thomas Mann and Heinrich Mann, Fritz Lang, Arnold Schoenberg, Kurt Weill and many more were part of this eclectic cultural group.

After extensive renovations, Villa Aurora picked up on its tradition in 1995, and since then has continued to be a meeting place for the arts again. With its Artist-in-Residence Grants Villa Aurora awards up to 12 scholarships every year in the areas of literature, fine art, film and music in the German-American cultural exchange program. The villa itself beautifully restored to its former grandeur is listed on the historical register.

Events at the Villa Aurora

Villa Aurora hosts many cultural events throughout the year that open up the splendid residence and location to the public.  Some exciting events coming up as soon as this week are listed below:

– Music Memory Metamorphosis – 

Los Angeles | April 20, 2013 (7:30 pm)

Viktor Ullmann:
Piano Sonata Nr. 7 (1944) &
“The Lay of Love and Death of the Cornet Christoph Rilke” (1944)
12 excerpts from the poem by Rainer Maria Rilke for speaker and piano

As Cinematic-Musical-Montage

Produced and directed by Gwyneth Bravo with the support of REZN8’s founder Paul Sidlo and featuring live performances by Neal Stulberg and pianist Steven Vanhauwaert, this multi-media program presents composer Viktor Ullmann’s final 1944 works—the Piano Sonata No.7 and his melodrama The Lay of Love and Death of Cornet Christopher Rilke — against a cinematic backdrop. In the spirit of early film and Erwin Piscator’s experimental Berlin theater of the 1920s, the production re-imagines the theater and concert hall as a cinematic space where the live performance of these works takes place inside a cinematic framework, where a kaleidoscope of projected and slowly shifting montage images serves as a visual counterpoint to the poetry and music. Employing a postmodern compositional aesthetic, her film, which Robert Elias, President of the OREL Foundation, describes as “a moving and beautifully wrought immersive work of art,” unfolds in thirteen, short movements and is composed of a series of densely-textured images constructed from the superimposition and animation of a multi-layered and harmonically-conceived series of visual elements.

Neal Stulberg, Recitation
Steven Vanhauwaert, Piano
Paul Sidlo, Technical Production & Design
Gwyneth Bravo, Producer & Artistic Director

For more information and tickets, please go to the following website: http://musicmemorymetamorphosis.brownpapertickets.com/
Admission: Members & Students $10, General Admission $25


 – Two Who Dared – 

Los Angeles | Saturday, April 27@ 7:00 p.m.

A documentary by Artemis Joukowsky III                                                       USA, 2012, 76 min., digital                                                                                           Presented by Villa Aurora, Artemis Joukowsky III and Robert Lemelson

Q & A and reception for the filmmaker after the screening.

This film tells the story of Unitarian minister, Waitstill Sharp and his wife Martha who, just days prior to the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia, left their young children in Wellesley, Massachusetts to help save thousands being persecuted in Eastern Europe.

Who were these American heroes? What drove their willingness to put the well-being of strangers over that of themselves and their family?

Waitstill and Martha were also involved in the Feuchtwangers’ escape from France. They are two of only three Americans who have been honored as “Righteous Among Nations” by Yad Vashem.  Two Who Dared has received a number of awards in 2012 including the Special Jury Prize from the Amsterdam Film Festival; Official Selection, River’s Edge Film Festival, and Redemptive Storyteller Award, Redemptive Film Festival

The screening at Villa Aurora is part of a grassroots, community-based effort, at synagogues, churches, theaters, and schools; in cities world-wide!

For more information visit www.TwoWhoDared.com
RSVP required at infola@villa-aurora.org – you will receive a confirmation.


–  Bis an die Grenze – Up to the border –

Los Angeles | Thursday, May 2 @ 7:00 p.m.

A documentary by Claus Oppermann and Gerald Grote                Germany, 2011, 95 min.                                                                                                   Presented by Villa Aurora and Pacific Palisades Film Festival

Sunday, August 13th 1961, the government of the German Democratic Republic lays the foundation stone for the “ugliest monument in the world”. A whole city is in a state of shock. At first the “atrocious century-construction“ is watched in disbelief. Then people start pulling their 8mm-cameras out of their cupboards to capture the images of the events.

On the basis of these extraordinary, widely unknown recordings and found footage, Claus Oppermann und Gerald Grote’s first feature film tells many impressive but forgotten stories about the rise of the Berlin Wall in 1961 to its fall in 1989, about the division of Germany and a bloody borderline through the middle of Europe.

The Wall, 155 km long, symbol of the Cold War, photographed and filmed million-fold, seen from a private and personal point of view. A unique documentary, put together out of hundreds of previously unreleased substandard films that have never been seen like this before. Many private archives were opened for the first time – a time travel, well worth seeing.

For more information visit http://www.bis-an-die-grenze.de/
Free for members / General $ 5
RSVP required at infola@villa-aurora.org



Location: Villa Aurora, 520 Paseo Miramar, Los Angeles, CA 90272

Street parking is available on Los Liones Drive. Event Shuttle service starts usually one hour prior to an event and will start from Los Liones Drive, off Sunset Boulevard two blocks North-East of Pacific Coast Highway.

Please do not park on the Topanga State Park Lot!

To Listen to an Audio Report on the Villa Aurora by PRI on theworld.org click here : PRI- Villa Aurora Audio

Villa Aurora
German Mission in the United States
Photo Credit: Villa Aurora