Wednesday 13th February at 18.00, lecture starting promptly at 18.15
The Engine Shed, Forthside Way, Stirling FK8 1QZ
SPAB Scotland are delighted to welcome to Scotland Professor Axel Klausmeier, Director of the Berlin Wall Foundation in Berlin.
The Berlin Wall was the Icon of the Cold War. It symbolized the divided world until its political fall in November 1989. Today, not much is left of its once 155 kilometer-long structure, although it is famous all over the world.
The story of the bloodless revolution that led to the sudden fall of the Wall on 9 November 1989 has often been told. In spite of warning voices, there was a broad consensus in favour of clearing away the hated border surrounding West-Berlin as thoroughly as possible. Official demolition, carried out mostly by GDR Border Guards, began on 13 June 1990, in Bernauer Strasse, and was largely completed by the 3 October 1990, the day of German reunification. Thanks to efforts initiated by GDR Institute for Heritage Conservation as early as December 1989, and continued by the Berlin State Conservation Authority, a total of seven sections of the Wall and other border installations were listed and have been preserved as officially designated Historic Monuments by 1992. By 2011, this number had risen to 27, following intensive field research in and around Berlin.
Whilst Berliners and their politicians had, all through the 1990s, mostly tried to forget the time of the division and to ignore the remnants and scars of the Wall in their city, the early 21st century has seen the rise of a new awareness of the Wall‘s significance, culminating in celebrations of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Wall. The Stiftung Berliner Mauer (Berlin Wall Foundation), funded in 2008 jointly by the Federal Republic of Germany and the Land of Berlin, and its Landscape of Memory and Documentation Centre in Bernauer Strasse, both of which grew out of a private initiative in the 1990s, are a result of this new policy. Today, the Berlin Wall Foundation is responsible for looking after four prominent former Wall sites with a total of approximately 4 Million visitors a year.
How are these precious physical remains being treated? What stories are being told in a World of an ever-greater number of new Walls? What does the Berlin Wall stand for today?
Axel Klausmeier studied Art History, Modern and Medieval History in Bochum, Munich and Berlin. From 1999-2001 he worked as a research assistant at the Foundation for Prussian Palaces and Gardens Berlin-Brandenburg (an organization akin to our Historic Royal Palaces agency). He then worked as an assistant in the Department of Heritage Preservation at the Brandenburg Technical University in Cottbus. At the request of the Berlin Senate, he researched the remains of the Berlin Wall in collaboration with his research director, Professor Leo Schmidt: they published their results in 2004 as a book. In 2006, Axel Klausmeier moved sideways for a year to the Institute for the Preservation of Historic Monuments at the ETH, in Zurich. He was called back to Berlin to participate as a research fellow in a major research project entitled The Berlin Wall as a symbol of the Cold War: from the key instrument of GDR domestic politics to being a monument of international standing. In 2009 he was officially appointed Director of the Berlin Wall Foundation, where he has worked ever since.