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Thirty years ago, the press began reporting how citizens of the German Democratic Republic were utilizing their summer vacations to travel to Hungary. For decades, the only countries to which East Germans could travel relatively easily were in East Central Europe. Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary were prime destinations for ordinary citizens. But in 1989, as it became increasingly clear that leaders in the East bloc were resistant to change, many people began to flood West German embassies or illegally cross borders from Hungary to Austria. Hungarian leaders—tacitly supported by Mikhail Gorbachev and his politics of reform—also began to liberalize, symbolically lifting the “Iron Curtain” by cutting the barbed wire fence that separated citizens of the East bloc from the West. We will be travelling roughly the route of East Germans in the summer of 1989. The first week of the Summer School will be reserved for a graduate seminar in Frankfurt Oder/Słubice. After that, we will be traveling across Central Europe, visiting eyewitnesses, academics, and politicians who witness the fall of communism in 1989. 

Tentative Schedule

  • 5 August: Arrival in Frankfurt/Oder
  • 6 August-11 August: Frankfurt Oder/Słubice
  • 12-13 August: Wrocław
  • 13-15 August: Bratislava
  • 15-17 August: Budapest
  • 17-18 August: Sopron
  • 18-20 August: Prague
  • 20-21 August: Bautzen
  • 21-22 August: Leipzig
  • 22-23 August: Berlin
  • 24 August: Departure

Peszt ©Mark Keck-Szajbel