In commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the opening of the Berlin Wall, Harald Jäger, the former East German officer who opened the Wall on 9 November 1989, and his biographer Gerhard Haase-Hindenberg recently visited the University of Liverpool. Frank
left: Frank Brunssen, centre: Harald Jäger, right: Gerhard Haase-Hindenberg
Brunssen, from Cultures, Languages and Area Studies, chaired a public conversation with Jäger and Haase-Hindenberg about this significant moment in European history. The event which was part of the Security and Conflict Lecture Series took place on 21 October 2014 in Mountford Hall (Student Guild) and attracted well over 1,000 students, academics and members of the general public.
During the conversation, Jäger described to the audience how he, as commanding officer at the checkpoint Bornholmer Strasse, took the decision on the night of 9 November 1989 to disobey his orders and open the gates from East to West Berlin. He also discussed the inhumane consequences of the Wall and why 138 people were killed at a border that divided the city for more than 28 years. Haase-Hindenberg characterized Jäger as an historic figure who inspired him to write a book entitled The Man who opened the Berlin Wall which was published in 2007.
The story of Harald Jäger’s courageous involvement in the opening the Wall has recently been turned into a film, Bornholmer Strasse, which will be shown on German television (ARD) on 5 November 2014. Readers of this blog might also be interested in listening to the audio recording of the conversation with Harald Jäger and Gerhard Haase-Hindenberg, which can now be downloaded from this link: http://www.liv.ac.uk/events/berlinwall/