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Berlin: Before and After the Wall Fell

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Event description

Beginning with the context of post-World War II Germany and the Cold War, the richly illustrated presentation features historical interpretation and photos of Berlin and the infamous Berlin Wall taken by the author in 1969, eight years after the wall was raised, juxtaposed with many of the same contrasting locations today. Also featured are the iconic Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtniskirche (Emperor William Memorial Church), including Sunday morning Gottesdienst (divine worship); the historic and beautifully restored Reichstag national capitol building, including a dramatic ascent of its spectacular, new, sparkling glass dome; and the classic Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg Gate), a historic and prominent symbol of Berlin. Close by and on a stroll along Unter den Linden (Under the Linden Trees), Berlin’s Main Street, are sober memorials and poignant reminders of the Murdered Jews of Europe, the Nazi-era burning of books, and the Victims of War and Dictatorship. Concluding the walk across the heart of the city are Museum Island, the opulent Berliner Dom (cathedral), the soaring Fernsehturm (TV tower) and view of the city from more than 650 feet above it, and a perfect-day cruise on the River Spree. Also included are nuggets of Berliner wit and a little light-hearted fare, both historical and current. The presentation closes on a reflective note with historical ironies and a 30th Anniversary retrospective look at the dramatic events which led to the Fall of the Wall in early November 1989, and photographs and prophetic words—spoken five days after the erection of the wall—which require no comment.

Before or after the program, guests are invited to view our exhibition, Breaking Barriers: Walls Throughout History on our first floor gallery. This is the last day to see this exhibition .

1:30 coffee and cake

2:00 program

FREE for members, $5 for non-members

This event is in-person only.

712 W 2nd St. Davenport, Iowa 52802

Presenter Bio
As a youth, Russell Baldner’s early fascination with the German language and history led to B.A. and M.A. degrees in History and undergraduate and graduate study in German and Archaeology. On his first visit to Germany, the presenter lived in his great-great-grandfather’s birthplace. Baldner specializes in the history of Germany, including the Early and High Middle Ages, the Protestant Reformation and Lutheranism, and 19 th - and 20 th -century Europe. A closely related specialty is the deciphering and translating of historical documents drafted in Kurrentschrift, an archaic form of German cursive script in which few are proficient, also genealogy, ethnic German history, and prehistoric Native American archaeology. By profession an educator, Russell formerly taught German, history and anthropology. His recent publications include nineteenth-century German Lutheran historical and archaic German cursive manuscript studies, a four-part research series on the Late Prehistoric–Early Historic petroglyphs and pictographs of northeast Iowa, and “Diversity in Faith,” a three-part Introduction to the Reformation and Protestantism.

In September 2022, Russell and wife Cathryn hosted “Medieval to Modern Hearts of Germany,” a two-week group tour in northeastern Germany proposed, named, and largely designed by Russ in conjunction with and sponsored by the University of Northern Iowa, his alma mater. Included were pre-departure orientations by Russell focusing on Germany’s history, language,
and social-cultural landscape, also historical lectures and interpretive commentaries while on tour, including an interpretive performance by Cathryn on Katharina von Bora, wife of Martin Luther, and a renewed and welcome opportunity for Russ to converse daily in the language of his heritage.
A frequent public speaker, Russell presents on a wide range of historical, linguistic, and archaeological subjects. In 2019, he was invited and first had the great pleasure of joining staff and guests and speaking in person at the German American Heritage Center. Following several subsequent virtual presentations during and following the pandemic, Russ welcomes the current invitation to present and looks eagerly forward to joining and meeting, once again in person, the always gracious staff and guests of the German American Heritage Center.

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