Presidential Historian to Give Oct. 29 Lecture on German Reunification

The University of St. Thomas is continuing its observance of the 25th anniversary of German Reunification with a reception and lecture, films, an essay contest and a cooking class at the Germanic-American Institute in St. Paul.

Jeffrey Engel

Jeffrey Engel

Dr. Jeffrey Engel, director of the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University, will discuss “The Reunification of Germany, the United States, and the Power of Time” at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 29, in James B. Woulfe Alumni Hall of the Anderson Student Center, located on the university’s St. Paul campus.

The lecture will be preceded by a reception starting at 6 p.m. The reception is open to the public but registration is required and the cost is $20 (pre-registration and $30 at the door – cash or check only) including hors d'oeuvres and beverages. St. Thomas students may attend the reception for free, but need to show their ID at the door and to register online beforehand. Registration information can be found here.

Engel is an expert on the U.S. presidency and American diplomatic history. He has authored or edited six books, including The Fall of the Berlin Wall: The Revolutionary Legacy of 1989, published by Oxford University Press in 2009. He is regularly featured as an expert on major news networks.

It was on Oct. 3, 1990, that East and West Germany, which were divided after World War II, were reunited into one nation.

“Only a year prior to the reunification, nobody thought that the wall would ever come down or the end of the Cold War would be in sight and therefore an end of the post-war area as we know it, would be imaginable,” said Dr. Susanne M. Wagner. Now director of St. Thomas’ German Program, Wagner was living in Germany during the fall of the Berlin Wall.

“The fall of the Berlin Wall was a major turning point that affected not only Germany and Europe but vast areas of the rest of the world,” she said. “The following reunification created a new Europe while establishing better ties with allies such as the United States. The division of East and West was a tangible and psychological barrier and its dissolution is a symbol of freedom and peaceful revolution leading to a long-awaited reunification.”

Last fall, St. Thomas hosted a series of events celebrating 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. While most of the wall was removed in 1990, it was on Nov. 9, 1989, that the East German government announced that its citizens could visit West Germany and West Berlin. The historic announcement led eventually to German reunification.

The three remaining films selected for the fall series are in German and have English subtitles. All will be shown from 7-9 p.m. in Room 203 of O’Shaughnessy Educational Center. The films and dates are:

  • Monday, Nov. 2: "Die Architekten" ("The Architects") (East Germany, 1990, more information here)
  • Tuesday, Nov. 10: "Chiffriert an Chef – Ausfall Nr. 5" ("Code for Boss: Sorty No. 5") (East Germany, 1979, more information here)
  • Tuesday, Dec. 1: "Das Leben der Anderen" ("Lives of Others"), (Germany, 2006, more information here)

The essay competition, on the theme of “25 Years of Germany Unity,” is sponsored by the German embassy in Washington, D. C. The deadline to submit an essay is Dec. 1. More information can be found here.

The cooking class will be held 6-9 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12, at the Germanic-American Institute, 301 Summit Ave., St. Paul. Katrin Erdmann, head of catering at the institute, will teach participants how to cook traditional regional German foods. The cost, $20, includes food and beverages, and cooking instructions. Registration information can be found here.

Information about all of the 25th anniversary events can be found here.