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BERLIN WALL: COUNTDOWN TO 1961/1989

West German children attempt to chip off a piece of the Berlin Wall as a souvenir.  A portion of the Wall has already been demolished at Potsdamer Platz.
SSG F. Lee Corkran. Courtesy of American Public Television
/
Film
West German children attempt to chip off a piece of the Berlin Wall as a souvenir. A portion of the Wall has already been demolished at Potsdamer Platz.

Tuesday, Aug. 23 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV + Thursday, Aug. 25 at 9 p.m. on KPBS 2 / On demand now with KPBS Passport!

The Berlin Wall divided Germany – and Europe - for nearly 30 years. Like other walls around the world, this inhumane structure tore families apart and destroyed lives. THE BERLIN WALL: COUNTDOWN TO 1961/1989 reveals a very personal perspective on this physical representation of the Cold War.

The Berlin Wall: Countdown to 1961/1989 preview

EPISODE GUIDE:

Episode 1: “Countdown to 1961 - The Rise of the Berlin Wall” Tuesday, Aug. 23 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV + Thursday, Aug. 25 at 9 p.m. on KPBS 2 - On Aug. 13, 1961, Berliners woke up on a Sunday morning to find their city divided by a wall. That day became known as "Barbed Wire Sunday," marking a peak in the era of the Cold War. It felt like a complete surprise to many, but key moments in the preceding year made clear that something was brewing.

On Aug. 5, 1961, author Brigitte Reimann noted in her diary: "Yesterday evening was terrible. The Berlin crisis is escalating. We are once again teetering on the edge of war." West Berlin camera man Dieter Hoffmann filmed the events of Aug. 13, 1961 as they unfolded, capturing the now famous moment when East German police officer Conrad Schumann leaped into the annals of history with his "Jump to Freedom." Actress Kati Szekely reflects on that fateful day and her experience making the first movie about the Berlin Wall with Armin Muller Stahl.

Conrad Schumann´s "Jump to Freedom", 1961

Episode 2: “Countdown to 1989 - The Fall of the Berlin Wall” Tuesday, Aug. 23 at 9:45 p.m. on KPBS TV + Thursday, Aug. 25 at 9:45 p.m. on KPBS 2 - The fall of the Berlin Wall on the evening of Nov. 9, 1989 came as a complete surprise to East and West Germans, and the entire world. How did this historic moment come to be?

Interviews with the then Mayor of West Berlin Walter Momper and the last socialist party head of East Germany, Hans Modrow, describe the events surrounding the fall of the wall from their own perspective. And photographer Dietmar Riemann shares how as late as September 1989, he decided to give everything up and leave East Germany in the hope of a better life in the West.

Standing on the West German side, East German policemen observe the newly created openingt in the Berlin Wall at Potsdamer Platz.
SSGT F. Lee Corkran. Courtesy of American Public Television
/
Film
Standing on the West German side, East German policemen observe the newly created openingt in the Berlin Wall at Potsdamer Platz.

Watch On Your Schedule:

Both episodes are available on demand with KPBS Passport, a benefit for members supporting KPBS at $60 or more yearly, using your computer, smartphone, tablet, Roku, AppleTV, Amazon Fire or Chromecast. Learn how to activate your benefit now.

Credits:

Distributed by American Public Television.

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