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Death at the Berlin Wall$
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Pertti Ahonen

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199546305

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199546305.001.0001

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The Wall comes tumbling down

The Wall comes tumbling down

(p.204) 7 The Wall comes tumbling down
Death at the Berlin Wall

Pertti Ahonen (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter covers the 1980s, culminating in the ‘fall’ of the Wall and the GDR's subsequent collapse. It argues, however, that the collapse was not easily foreseeable and that the GDR appeared to be a stable, well-functioning state at least until 1987. A key prop of this seeming stability was still the repression embodied by the border regime at the Berlin Wall, whose seemingly smooth operation the chapter highlights through an examination of the shooting of Michael-Horst Schmidt on 1 December 1984. But the chapter also analyzes the abrupt changes that ensued at the decade's end, as the GDR plunged into a systemic crisis. It explores the February 1989 killing of the last person shot at the Wall, Chris Gueffroy, and its subsequent ramifications, both as a reflection of the broad changes underway in the GDR and as a major contributing factor to the subsequent collapse of the border regime.

Keywords:   Berlin, Berlin Wall, GDR, division, legitimacy, death, détente, Michael-Horst Schmidt, Chris Gueffroy, commemoration, unification

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