An insight into two worlds

Germany has been one country again since 1990, and memories of the division are gradually fading. Anyone who fancies a journey back in time should check out these films and books.

Scene from “Good Bye, Lenin!“
Scene from “Good Bye, Lenin!“ picture alliance / United Archives

These films achieved international acclaim because they are entertaining, exciting and, quite simply, good. They take you back in time to the period of division and reunification:

“The Lives of Others”

The GDR was an authoritarian surveillance state – this Oscar-winning film starring top German actors gives a chilling insight into what this actually meant for the lives of the people there.

“Good Bye, Lenin!”

The mother of the main character Alexander “misses” the fall of the Berlin Wall because she is in a coma. When she wakes up, her son tries to make her believe that nothing has changed – an undertaking that is as amusing as it is revealing on all kinds of levels.


This thriller is set in East Germany in the early 1980s. Based on a true story, it depicts an unusual attempt to escape to the West.

“Russian Disco”

Three young Russians of Jewish descent come to the West after the fall of the Berlin Wall – and get into all kinds of scrapes! The film is based on the autobiographical novel of the same name by Wladimir Kaminer.

And now it’s time to read!

Entertaining and full of insights into the clash of complicated and often very different realities in the united Germany – these books conjure up a world in our mind’s eye:

“Russian Disco”

Yes, exactly, that one again. The book on which the film was based – and yet quite different to the film. A one-way ticket from Moscow to Berlin costs 96 roubles, a trip that takes the adventurers from Russia into a foreign and almost exotic world.

“Berlin Blues”

Now for a view of reunification from the West, or more precisely from the West Berlin perspective. Sven Regner’s main protagonist Herr Lehmann ekes out a living in this major Western city in the heart of East Germany. The fall of the Berlin Wall is not really of any particular relevance to his life. If you want to hear what the author sounds like, his band is called Element of Crime.


Erich Loest tells the story of many very different people from Leipzig, primarily in the years 1985 to 1989. We are introduced to Stasi operatives and fellow travellers, peace groups and opposition members.

“Too Far Afield”

And finally, the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature: Günther Grass writes about the fall of the Wall, reunification and German history.


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