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Contemporary History | Berlin and the Cold War, Oct. 1 and 2

The Ohio University Contemporary History Institute hosts a virtual international symposium on "Berlin and the Cold War" on Oct. 1 and 2.

The symposium will address questions of strategies and alliances and is free and open to the general public. 

The conveners are Dr. Ingo Trauschweizer, professor of History and director of the Contemporary History Institute, and Dr. Seth Givens, historian at the United States Marine Corps History Division at Quantico, Va. Givens earned a Ph.D. in history from Ohio University College of Arts & Sciences in 2018 and was the 2014-15 Baker Peace Fellow.

External sponsors include the Checkpoint Charlie Foundation and the German Foreign Office, with support from the Allied Museum in Berlin. 

Watch live or later on YouTube:

Friday, Oct. 1 Schedule

1 – 1:30 p.m. Welcome and opening remarks

  • Dr. Joseph Shields (Vice President for Research and Creative Activity, Ohio University)
  • Professor Ingo Trauschweizer (Contemporary History Institute, Ohio University)

1:30 – 3 p.m. Postwar to Cold War (1945-1957)

  • Seth A. Givens (U.S. Marine Corps History Division): US and the defense of West Berlin
  • Christian Ostermann (Woodrow Wilson Center): Berlin and the 1953 uprising
  • Petra Goedde (Temple University): German-American cultural diplomacy and GIs in Berlin

Saturday, Oct. 2 Schedule

10 – 11:30 a.m. Crises (1958-1971)

  • Erin Mahan (Office of the Secretary of Defense): Intra-alliance politics and Berlin
  • Hope Harrison (George Washington University) Soviets, East Germans, and the Berlin Wall
  • Thomas Schwartz (Vanderbilt University): Berlin and the Johnson and Nixon administrations

1:30 – 3 p.m. Beyond the Cold War in Berlin (1972-1990s)

  • Stephan Kieninger (independent scholar): the Quadripartite Agreement (1971)
  • Vladislav Zubok (London School of Economics): Berlin, Soviets, and end of the Cold War
  • Peter Ridder (Berliner Kolleg Kalter Krieg): West German and American visions for Berlin

3 – 3:30 p.m. Concluding remarks

  • Wolfang Mössinger (German Consul-General at Chicago): “Are We in a New Cold War?”

Event Details

User Activity

I made my decision to join the US Army at the Berlin Wall while on a high school summer language immersion program in 1970.

I came to Berlin again in 1980 as a newlywed, and my wife had not traveled out of US before but quickly realized the context of why we were there and the consequences for us if a war started. Our twin boys were born in Berlin.

The US presence in Berlin was incredibly complex and few understood the layers of interaction nor the profound impact we had on both West and East Germans by our mete presence and through radio and TV such as RIAS, and in actions such as preserving rights of access and securing the little village of Steinstuecken.

I used to lead convoys through to West Germany to our training areas there. It was interesting to see the profound realization on the part of new privates as I read our orders in how we would react if stopped or provoked. There eyes would change and their demeanor become very serious as they realized that they indeed had to be ready to fight -now! This hardened further in the Soviet checkpoints and as we were shadowed by Hind gunships and VOPOS.

I am a cold war Veteran. I was stationed in Berlin Germany in the 6912 Electronic Security Command, USAF 1981 to 1983.