POSTPONED -- Film Screening: Between the Lines

September 22, 2006 // 12:00pm2:00pm

This event has been POSTPONED

6th Floor Flom Auditorium
Woodrow Wilson Center
1300 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20004

with Dirk Simon, Writer and Director of Between the Lines

and Dr Hope M. Harrison, Director of the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies and Associate Professor of History and International Affairs, George Washington University

Since the first brick was laid to build the Berlin Wall in 1961, hundreds of East Germans lost their lives in search of political freedom and economic prosperity at the border. For East German politicians, the escapees were mere criminals attempting to disrupt a nation's will to "protect" its boundaries. In contrast, in West Germany, every escapee was a survivor who left behind a political regime which imprisoned its people behind concrete walls and psychological fences.

Every day, drafted border soldiers were forced to fight an unofficial war. Like all East Germans, they were taught from an early age that the West was the enemy. Built to preserve political interests, the influence of the wall and the aftermath on its border guardsmen and families were however, tragically disregarded.

The essence of this tragedy is in the true story of two guards, Ulrich Steinhauer and Egon Bunge. In November 1980, Bunge decided to carry out his own plan of escape, and in the process killed Corporal Steinhauer, his official partner at the gate.

Director Dirk Simon has carried this tale with him for years, ever since visiting the two soldiers' home base as a boy. And for Simon it's not an easy story to tell, the gray issues faced by
border militia on the question of liberty far outnumbering the black and white.

Between the Lines is the first documentary out of Germany capturing the complexities and tragic consequences of the lives torn apart while serving at the Berlin Wall.

Director Dirk Simon was born in East Germany and brings firsthand knowledge of life behind the wall. For several years, he asked himself how far he would go to reach his goal of living as a free man. He escaped at the age of 21.

With a degree from the Academy of Performing Arts in Burghausen, West Germany, he has been involved with independent film and theatre projects in both Germany and America. The film Between the Lines is his first feature documentary where he is author, director and co-producer.

Hope M. Harrison is the author of the award-winning book, Driving the Soviets Up the Wall: Soviet-East German Relations, 1953-1961 (Princeton University Press, 2003). In her book, Harrison uses her extensive access to archival documents in Moscow and Berlin to tell the story of the decision to build the Berlin Wall. She has held research fellowships at the Norwegian Nobel Institute (1999), the Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies, the Davis Center at Harvard University, and the Free University of Berlin. She has also served on the National Security Council in both the Clinton and Bush Administrations as Director for European and Eurasian Affairs.

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