Wall In My Backyard

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With the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 and German unification less than a year later, East Germany entered a period of radical change. In this collection of interviews, eighteen East German women describe the excitement, chaos, and frustration of this transitional period. The interviewees discuss candidly the problems they have faced as women in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) and in the new Germany. Although the East German government proclaimed equal rights for men and women and promoted women in the dual role of worker and mother, the interviewees often take issue with those policies. The perspectives contained here are as diverse as the women who voice them. Ranging in age from twenty to sixty-nine, the women work at a variety of occupations, including filmmaker, mental health therapist, water safety instructor, university professor, housekeeper, writer, and representative to Parliament. In telling their stories, they present a wide range of experience that offers the reader a multidimensional view of life in the former GDR. The interviews challenge conventional notions about what East German women gained under socialism as well as what they lost after unification. The book shows that many women are successfully negotiating the obstacles of the transition, taking responsibility for their lives in ways that were not possible in the GDR.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Just as most every American of a certain age remembers where they were the day John Kennedy was shot, Germans will remember November 9, 1989-the day the Berlin Wall came down and borders between East and West were open for the first time in 28 years. While the media portrayed that day and the subsequent unification of Germany as overwhelmingly positive, many East Germans are not so sure that their lives are any better for it. The Wall in My Backyard collects 18 interviews with East Berlin women of various professions and backgrounds who relate their experiences before the unification and since. Many women were thrilled with the Wende (the ``turn'' or ``change'') and the first taste of freedom-intellectual, professional and physical-since childhood. Others mourned the lost stability that the GDR provided, the steady work, day care and health care. The editors write of one woman who lost her job in 1990: ``She came to realize that people developed greater self-respect when a government subsidized their employment (as had been the case in the GDR) than when it subsidized their unemployment.'' The compilation will strike a chord within women's studies circles and, with a little more editorial flair, it could have had mass appeal. But by burying some of the most tender quotes and not providing transitions within the body of the interviews, the book seems oddly unfinished. Photos. (Jan.)
In this collection of interviews, 18 East German women describe the excitement, chaos, and frustration of the transitional period after the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall, candidly discussing the problems they have faced as women in the German Democratic Republic and in the new Germany. These revealing interviews challenge conventional notions about what East German women gained under socialism as well as what they lost after reunification. Lacks an index. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780870239335
  • Publisher: University of Massachusetts Press
  • Publication date: 1/5/1995
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 6.04 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.55 (d)

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 9, 2004

    Women's studies, not history

    I thought this would be a book about life during and after the fall of the wall. It's a book of women's often-contradictory personal memories of life in the DDR. Most of the people interviewed for the book seem to be strictly Berliners. It's interesting, but not a good source or reference. I can't call it exhaustive research or hard anthropology. I was also kinda torqued because the issue I received was used, heavily highlighted/underlined/marked-up, and somewhat damaged. Geez, practically East German customer service.

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