This paper explores the memorial projects in Berlin and Leipzig, Germany, to commemorate the fall of communism and the reunification of Germany. While neither memorial has yet been completed, the debates reveal a great deal of tension between the memorial preferences of ordinary citizens and those of the elected political elite. Further, the debates illustrate the emergence in a large segment of society of a desire to balance the memories of Germany's darker past with positive memories of its accomplishments.
Jon Berndt Olsen is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he teaches courses in the fields of Public History, Digital History, German and European History. He holds a PhD in German History from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an MA in German and European Studies from Georgetown University. His first book, Tailoring Truth: Politicizing the Past and Negotiating Memory in East Germany, 1945-1989 appeared with Berghahn Books (New York, 2015). His new book-length research project focuses on the history of travel, tourism, and leisure culture in East Germany. Visa-Free to Hawaii: Going on Vacation in a Socialist Land (working title) explores the history of “organized” as well as “unorganized” vacations, camping trips, day trips, weekend bungalows, and garden communities in East Germany.