Skip to page Content.

Remembering the Fall of the Berlin Wall:
A Conversation between Alexander Osang and Ulrich Baer

Tuesday, November 4, 2014, 6:30 p.m.

Deutsches Haus at NYU

How do people remember the Fall of the Berlin Wall? What exactly do they remember? And how has their perception of Berlin changed over the course of the last 25 years?

Deutsches Haus at NYU presents a conversation about the cultural relevance of memory for the perception of the Fall of the Berlin Wall with Der Spiegel’s Alexander Osang, and Ulrich Baer, NYU's Vice Provost for Faculty, Arts, Humanities, and Diversity. Comparing their respective memories of the historic night on November 9, 1989, Osang and Baer will look into social, cultural, and political perspectives of this event, and try to come to an understanding of how the Fall of the Berlin Wall affected Berlin’s role in the world, as well as the relationship between the U.S. and Germany in general.

Alexander Osang was born in 1962 in East Berlin. He studied journalism in Leipzig and spent the years after the reunification working for the Berliner Zeitung, where he swiftly became chief reporter. In 1999, he went to New York as a correspondent for Der Spiegel for seven years before returning to his home town. One of Germany’s most prominent journalists, he published his first collection of articles in 1992, Aufsteiger – Absteiger (tr: Winners – Losers). Osang’s first novel was Die Nachrichten (2000; tr: The News), which was adapted for the cinema to great success in 2005. In his subsequent literary work, the collection Lunkebergs Fest (2003; tr: Lunkeberg’s Party) and his second novel Lennon ist tot (2007; tr: Lennon is Dead), Osang distances himself from the East-West themes, which dominated his earlier work. What remains is his preference for characters who are in danger of failing or of losing themselves in unexpected developments. In the summer of 2006, Osang contributed a chapter to The Thinking Fan’s Guide to the World Cup outlining the frustrations of an East German soccer fan and how he came to root for his national team. In August of 2013, Osang and his wife Anja Reich published Wo warst Du? Ein Septembertag in New York (Where Were you? A September Day in New York), which tells their very different experience of September 11, 2001. Osang has won numerous prizes for his journalistic work, including the Theodor Wolff Prize and the Egon Erwin Kisch Prize for the best German-language report (which he has won three times). He currently lives in Berlin and continues to work for Der Spiegel after returning from New York earlier this year, where he had worked as Der Spiegel’s New York Bureau Chief.

Ulrich Baer
received his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Yale University in 1995, and has been teaching at NYU since 1996. His books include: Remnants of Song: Trauma and the Experience of Modernity in Charles Baudelaire and Paul Celan (2000), Spectral Evidence: The Photography of Trauma (2002), 110 Stories: New York Writes After September 11 (editor; 2002), Letters on Life: The Wisdom of Rainer Maria Rilke (editor and translator; 2005; translated into Portuguese, German and Greek), and The Rilke Alphabet (in German; 2006). He regularly teaches on the poetics of witnessing, 19th and 20th century poetry, the history and theory of photography, a team-taught seminar (with Professor Shelley Rice) on archives, photography, and cultural memory, and a Freshman Honors Seminar on “Photography as a Global Language.”
He has published widely on literary representations and historical testimonies of the Holocaust; on Rilke and Celan; on the history and theory of photography, and on contemporary art. He has been the recipient of a John P. Getty Fellowship, an Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship, NYU's Golden Dozen Award for excellence in teaching (1998 and 2003), and a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship which he spent partly in Shanghai, and the People's Republic of China. His current projects include a book on "Photographing the World" in which he investigates how photographers have sought to represent the world in its entirety, and how photography has become a global phenomenon with distinct local grammars.
Since 2007, Baer has been Vice Provost of Globalization and Multiculturalism at NYU, in which capacity he oversees the academic and operational aspects of NYU’s ten Global Academic Centers throughout the world.

This event is part of our fall focus on the city of Berlin, commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall.

Events at Deutsches Haus are free of charge. If you would like to attend this event, please send us an email to Space at Deutsches Haus is limited; please arrive ten minutes prior to the event. Thank you!

Remembering the Fall of the Berlin Wall: A Conversation between Alexander Osang and Ulrich Baer is a DAAD-sponsored event.