The Berlin Wall Memorial has been conducting biographical interviews with contemporary witnesses since the late 1990s. This collaboration is an essential part of the memorial’s work. Thematically, our aim is to better understand how individual lives were impacted by the Berlin Wall, the German-German division, the mass migration, and everyday life in the divided city. In recent years, however, we have begun addressing new subjects. In addition to topics such as flight and escape assistance, we are turning our attention to issues such as everyday life with the Wall, anti-racism perspectives on the Wall and the transformation period, as well as queer stories. If you would like to share your own experiences with the Berlin Wall or about everyday life in the divided city, please fill out our contact form. We’d like to hear from you.
Contemporary witnesses talk about their lives
On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the construction of the Berlin Wall on 13 August 2021, contemporary witnesses spoke about their lives in two panels at the Berlin Wall Memorial, moderated by Ulrike Timm (Deutschlandfunk). Both events can be found here as a recording with simultaneous translation into German sign language.
Childhood at the Wall
Veronika Schneider and Rainer Just
How did children experience 1961? Veronika Schneider and Rainer Just, 8 and 9 years old at the time – speak about how their lives in East and West Berlin changed when the Berlin Wall was built.
Everyday life with the Wall in East Berlin
Christine Bartels and Bettina Dziggel
Christine Bartels lived quite close to the Berlin Wall on Bernauer Strasse; Bettina Dziggel worked in the border area in East Berlin in the 1980s. Sixty years after the Wall was built, they speak about what it was like to live in the divided city.
The Berlin Wall Foundation's Work with Contemporary Witnesses
Working with contemporary witnesses is an important part of oral history work and helps explain what it was like to live with the Berlin Wall and the German division. It also gives victims and their relatives a voice.