Remembering 1989: The Conclusion
Nov. 9, 2014 was a very important date for the world history. It marked the 25th anniversary of one of the most significant events in our contemporary history – the fall of the Berlin Wall. Twenty-five years later, the historic event commemorates the reunification of Germany and the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe. To remember the day, AUBG students, faculty and staff organized many exhibitions and events as part of “Remembering 1989: 25 Years After the Fall of the Berlin Wall” series.
On Saturday, Nov. 8, students had the chance to visit the conference “25 Years After The Fall of The Berlin Wall.” The conference lasted from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Prof. Janusz Bugajski, Senior Fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) in Washington, D.C. and host of “Bugajski Hour” and “Bugajski Time,” television shows broadcast in the Balkans, along with Philip Dimitrov, Prime Minister of Bulgaria (1992-1993); Ambassador to the USA (1998-2002); EU Ambassador to Georgia (2011-2014), talked on the topic “25 Years After: Achievements and Challenges.”
From 1 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Dr. Marco Arndt, Director of Konrad Adenauer Foundation, Sofia opened the exhibition “Bulgaria 1944-1989: Forbidden Truth.”
From 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. there was a panel discussion on the topic “The Fall of Communism – Bulgarian Response”. Panelists at the discussion were: Nassya Kralevska-Owens (Journalist, Bulgaria-USA), Margarita Assenova (Political Analyst, USA), Spas Dimitrov (Lawyer, MP (1990-1991 and 1994-1997), Member of the AUBG University Council), Milena Angelova (Associate Professor, Cultural Anthropology, SWU, Blagoevgrad).
The topics of discussion were Bulgaria’s achievements and challenges in the last 25 years and the impact of the Soviet Union breakdown on the country. Panelist shared their opinion and answered the audience’s questions. The discussion started out with raising the problem of “broken link in history.” According to Nasya Kralevska-Owens nowadays students know very little about the turning events for their country. She shared her memories of living under communist regime. “You could be sent to a camp, just for dancing to the western songs,” she remembered. “It’s time to denounce the communism. Society should not forget; these memories should be passed generation to generation.”
The situation has drastically changed since the collapse of the USSR. Now, Bulgarians can fully enjoy all kinds of liberties. This positive shift would not be able without people’s everyday contribution, Margarita Assenova said. “We work for freedom by not bribing the police officers. That is how we fight for our own freedom.”
The panelists continued discussing the positive tendencies in Bulgaria and the future development of the country. Marking the achievement of Bulgaria in the last decade, Spas Dimitrov pointed out that “after 25 years Bulgaria walked the positive path. However, there are still plenty of issues that we have to resolve swiftly.” According to Dimitrov sole effort won’t be enough. Everybody must take part in making Bulgaria a better place. As a conclusion, Spas Dimitrov addressed AUBG students, “I would like to wish you critical thinking, to keep seeking development.”
During the weekend, mostly on Sunday, AUBGers had the chance to visit a movie marathon of Eastern European cinema, which was named “Remembering 1989.” The thematic movies that were screened were: “Burnt by the Sun,” “The Soviet story,” “Tito and me,” “The Oak,” “Kolya,” “Igla,” “Blue Mountains,” “Repentance,” “Good bye, Lenin,” and “12:08 East of Bucharest”.
Also on Sunday, the organizers invited the AUBG community to the official closing ceremony of the celebration of the fall of the Berlin Wall, which took place at 10:45 p.m. in the main lobby of the ABF Student Center, following the real timeline of the fall, 25 years ago. A cocktail was provided, where students had the opportunity to discuss the historical events and exchange different stories regarding the fall of the Wall.
When the official time for the demolition of the Wall came, Associate Professor Cosmina Tanasoiu, who came up with the idea for the building of the AUBG version of the Berlin Wall, said a few words on the history of the event:
“Twenty-five years ago, precisely about this timeline, at 10.45 p.m. Germans started working towards breaking the wall. A wall that has since 1961 disfigured the city, a continent and individuals lives. They walked without particular expectations, but the German party, for a couple of months, had been under pressure to respond to people’s demand for change. One month ago in Leipzig they were peaceful manifestations. It also has to been seen, that Germany was a step in a long line of 1989 of events. In June, Poland have had the first free elections, in August in the Baltic States there was a human chain for kilometers – two million people across the Baltic State’s frontier gathered in a demand of independence. Germany was the next step, so the party decided to announce, following the Hungarian opening of the borders in August as well that Germans could cross the border by being given visas from the border guards. And so they came, but the guards did not shoot and neither could they deal with the sheer amount of number of people that wanted to cross, so they stepped aside and opened the borders literally. If you notice we have been dressed for the occasion – this was the pioneer’s main significant signs [red scarves the student wore]. Mine are original ones, because I got to wear them for two years, but my communist career was cut shorted by and events like this. It is an event like this has allowed you to worry today or this weekend or this week about midterms and about your tests, rather than studying for Marxist communism. I also want to tell this thing that tonight is not the end of 1989 events. Tomorrow, as it had been in Bulgaria, Zhivkov would resign, and on Nov. 17, the Czech Republic starts moving and the wonderful guy Vaclav Havel would become president, by the end of December, the Romanian Revolution started on Dec. 16. So this is a long line of dominance. But what has happened tonight, 25 years ago, is that fear went away. SO TEAR THE WALL DOWN!”
Right after the speech of Prof. Tanasoiu, students started breaking the imitation of the Berlin Wall, which was built by students from the European Society Club, in the center of ABF’s main lobby. Students managed to tear down the wall into pieces for a couple of minutes. During this symbolic act the tune of the thematic song “Wind of Change” by Scorpions sounded in the hall. All of the participants had the opportunity to take a piece of the wall at home as a memory of the historical night.
AUBG was just one of the many societies that celebrated the anniversary. In Germany, for example, along the former lines of the Berlin Wall, a new temporary Berlin Wall was built with thousands of illuminated balloons.
“The Remembering 1989: 25 Years After the Fall of the Berlin Wall” event series is the joint effort of the European Society Club, the AUBG Political Science Club, the POS/EUR Department, the Documentary Movie Club, the JMC Department, and is part of the Panitza Communist Series.
This article is the joint effort of AUBG Daily’s owls Mina Dobreva and Jamilya Abidkhozhayeva. Photos are courtesy of AUBG Daily’s owl Anna Bashuk.