2021 Festival – Episode 5.
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Iain McGregor’s book is a powerful, fascinating, and groundbreaking history of Checkpoint Charlie, the famous military gate on the border of East and West Berlin. East Germany committed a billion dollars to the creation of the Berlin Wall in the early 1960s, an eleven-foot-high barrier that consisted of seventy-nine miles of fencing, 300 watchtowers, 250 guard dog runs, twenty bunkers, and was operated around the clock by guards who shot to kill.
Over the next twenty-eight years, at least five thousand people attempted to smash through it, swim across it, tunnel under it, or fly over it. In November 1989, the East German leadership buckled in the face of a civil revolt that culminated in half a million East Berliners demanding an end to the ban on free movement. The world’s media flocked to capture the moment which, perhaps more than any other, signaled the end of the Cold War. Checkpoint Charlie had been the epicenter of global conflict for nearly three decades.
Iain McGregor is a successful editor of non fiction for major publishing houses, working with talented and bestselling historians such as Michael Wood, Sir Simon Schama, William Taubman, Alice Roberts and John Nichol – as well as publishing tie-ins with archives and podcasts such as the Imperial War Museum and R4’s ‘In Our Time’ series with Melvyn Bragg. He is also a writer and public speaker on modern history and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.
Jane Freeland is a historian of feminism and gender in modern Germany at the German Historical Institute London.
The Dublin Festival of History is brought to you by Dublin City Council, and organised by Dublin City Libraries, in partnership with Dublin City Council Culture Company.