Twenty years ago, the Berlin Wall fell this was surely a watershed moment for mankind. Amongst other things this means that there is at least one generation of people alive today that have no recollection of a divided Germany and the Berlin Wall. How do you explain to them what had happened and how Germany was divided? The Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany recently tried to do just this as part of the Children's University 2009 Program in the topic "Eine Mauer in Deutschland- order: Eins plus eins ist eins!" (A Wall in Germany- One plus one is one!, in English)
I've attended two of the Kiddie Uni programs so far and have been quite please and plan on attending other in the future. Parents need to see if they think that the children are old enough to attend and if they'd be interested in the topics covered but they do a good job and it can be a fun an educational experience for your kids. They set up one lecture hall where the kids sit to take part in the topic while parents wishing to stay can view the lecture (and keep an eye on their kids) from another room as the event is televised and they pan to the kids from time to time (to ease the minds of the parents) and to get the reaction of the kids. It should be noted that the programs are in German
There was some explanation of how Germany was divided at the end of World War II, without a lot of detail about the war itself. Uncle Sam and Uncle Ivan played the parts of America and the U.S.S.R during the lesson. The kids were told about the freedoms that people had in West Germany and how the party decided what was best for the people in East Germany. They even made their own wall between the kids and dived them into East and West.
Uncle Sam passed out Gummi bears (something most all kids in Germany know and love) to the kids in West Germany, while the kids in the DDR didn't get any. You can imagine that this got a reaction out of the kids and some were ready to "defect" to get their Gummi Bears. There was genuine concern among their parents about if their kids were in the DDR or in the West, and you could see them looking intently to determine if their kids were in the DDR or not.
A little later on there were calls to tear down the wall and Uncle Ivan disappeared, while they told the kids about President Reagan's call to "Mr Gorbechev, tear down this wall..." the wall came down and all the kids got to have Gummi Bears. Gummi Bears for all.
In honor of the 20th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall, I'm playing Pink Floyd's "The Wall" on Blip.fm. I recently wrote an article about 19 Years of German Reunification And the Fall of the Berlin Wall 20 Years Later, if you'd like to read more about this topic.
Photo Credit: "American Sector" courtesy of Lietmotiv.