Germany is in the midst of a second reckoning with the past. This time it is not about the Holocaust but about the legacy of the Berlin Wall and the East German communist regime that stood behind it. Since the Wall fell in 1989, most Germans have wanted to get rid of as much of it as possible and look to the future. Recently, however, there have been important moves to preserve parts of the Wall and explain the history. The Wall continues to expose fault lines in German society and foster important historical debates.
Hope M. Harrison is a Public Policy Scholar at the Wilson Center and an associate professor of history and international affairs at The George Washington University. Her books include the prizewinning Driving the Soviets Up the Wall: Soviet–East German Relations, 1953–1961 (2003); and the updated German version, Ulbrichts Mauer, which was published to wide acclaim for the 50th anniversary of the building of the Wall in 2011.