Germany, Berlin

The Dialogue of the Deaf': Resistance and Radicalism in Divided Europe 1953-1989 and the Case of Berlin

when 23 July 2016 - 20 August 2016
duration 4 weeks
credits 4 ECTS
fee EUR 900

In this course we will look at the different meanings of ‘resistance’ in East and West Germany at the time of the Cold War, but also in the wider worlds of their geopolitical neighbors of capitalist Western Europe and the Communist Eastern Bloc.

We begin with an examination of post war socio-economic developments that led to the massive expansion of higher education in Western Europe. This development, among other factors, resulted in a generational divide which saw a radicalized younger generation turn on their parents, sometimes in rage and violence, as in the examples of the Red Army Fraction in Germany and the Red Brigades in Italy. We then turn to examples in Eastern Europe, within the Communist Bloc, where resistance movements against Communist regimes, such as in Hungary and Czechoslovakia but also in East Germany, were met with deadly force and violent oppression.

All the way through the course the city of Berlin will serve as a backdrop: as a place of immense and often very radical anti-government movements in West Berlin, compared with the muted and hidden resistance to authority over the Wall in East Berlin. What accounts for these strident differences, and how reflective were they of the larger European context? And how did both sides utilize the idea of each other, often in confused ways, to justify their own conceptualizations of resistance and change?

Students taking this course will emerge with a better grasp of the complexity of student, youth and revolutionary movements in the divided Europe of the Cold War. Furthermore, the course promises a rich immersion in the struggles of the divided Berlin, whilst connecting these struggles to the larger battles of the Cold War.

The course utilizes a broad scope of source materials, engages in the rigorous consideration of the meaning of words, and offers a persistent return to the place, Berlin, where broader historical forces generated their own representative microcosms in east and west of the city.

Course leader

Dr. Lauren van Vuuren

Target group

Students interested in the history of twentieth century Europe, Germany, war and society, and the history of terrorism will find this course challenging and interesting. The course is also suited to those interested in the history of the divided Berlin, and Germany.

Credits info


Paper 40%
Presentation 30%
Active Participation 30%

Fee info

EUR 900: Tuition
EUR 250: Program fee