Lucas VogelsangJoachim Król

WHAT ARE THEY DOING HERE? EXPERIENCES OF A FORMER FRONTIER

Travelling through Germany 30 years after the Berlin Wall

2019 would have been the German Democratic Republic’s 70th anniversary. It also marks 30 years since the Berlin Wall fell; it’s been gone longer than it stood. Now is the ideal time to take a closer look at what this iconic and feared frontier meant to the people whose life it affected. Lucas Vogelsang and Joachim Król embark on a road trip to explore contradictory memories and incredible stories of the night the Wall fell, driving eastwards along the autobahn into the land where millions of people suddenly began new lives in November 1989.

Pushing forward through the narrative of a nation, they use Król’s biography as a compass on their expedition into the past. As a young man he hitchhiked his way along the transit zone, later landing one of his best acting roles as one of the first Westerners to be allowed to travel into East Germany. First the GDR was an illusion, a phantom. Then it became a backdrop on a film set. Król still feels like a foreigner in the New States, as the eastern part of Germany is still called today. On his internal map these new states are undiscovered territory. Now, he intends to fill in the some of the blanks.

Their search begins deep in Germany’s western Rhineland, and ends on the Baltic coast. Journeying from Bochum to Boltenhagen, the pair are spurred on by an unwavering curiosity. Their questions seem to pose themselves, in both the West and the East. Where has the Wall survived, where has the inner German border truly disappeared? What role do old political dichotomies play in the minds of the people who experienced the country’s division, then its reunification?

Vogelsang and Król find the answers in living rooms and on sentry towers. Their forensic interrogation of the past builds on their contrasting skills and personas: Król, the conversationally gifted itinerant searching for meaning; Vogelsang, the accomplished chronicler.

Lucas Vogelsang

Lucas Vogelsang

Born in 1985, Lucas Vogelsang is one of his generation’s most successful journalists. He has written for Tagesspiegel, Zeit, Welt, Welt am Sonntag and Playboy. He was awarded the Henri Nannen Prize in 2010; in 2013 he received the German Reporters’ Prize. He was also honoured by the organisers of the 2015 Hansel Mieth Prize for a feature about his housing estate in Berlin’s Wedding district. His best-selling book, Heimaterde. Eine Weltreise durch Deutschland appeared in 2017.

 

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