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Contemporary Witnesses

Interview with a contemporary witness

Photo: Gesa Simons

Contact with contemporary witnesses is important to the work of the Berlin Wall Foundation. This oral history work sheds light on everyday life with the Berlin Wall and the German-German division and makes it more understandable. It is also a way to give victims and their relatives a voice. The memories of contemporary witnesses are collected, preserved and made accessible to the public in our archive. We are currently broadening our understanding of subjects related to flight, the Wall and division to include a wide range of historical experiences and topics. These include previously marginalized perspectives, such as the experiences of migrant communities or queer people. We would like to help make these experiences more visible within the culture of remembrance.


We want you

We are collecting memories of the Berlin Wall, German-German division and exodus to the West from the time of Cold War and continuing into the 1990s. We would like to preserve these biographical stories and make them visible and accessible to the public. We are not (only) interested in dramatic events and experiences, but also in everyday experiences that are not usually portrayed. If you want your story added to our archive, we would like to hear from you.


We conduct biographical interviews with contemporary witnesses whose personal experiences are connected with topics related to the Berlin Wall and the German-German division. The focus varies depending on the site. The Berlin Wall Memorial’s collection contains interviews with people who experienced flight and escape, everyday life in East and West Berlin, and life during the period of transformation. The Marienfelde Refugee Center Memorial also focuses on experiences of flight, emigration and German repatriation, as well on people’s experiences after they arrived at the refugee center. Biographical interviews make it possible to take the entire life of an interviewee into account.

Set up interview situation with microphone

Collection & Research Opportunities

Our extensive archive is based on some 500 interviews with contemporary witnesses. They provide access to topics related to the work of Berlin Wall Foundation from an everyday historical perspective. Our archive is open by appointment to journalists, academics, students, pupils and other individuals who are interested in conducting research. Please complete our research form so that we can process your request. If you are interested in speaking to a contemporary witness, you can also send us the completed form and we will explore the possibilities. We are happy to assist you.





You can also conduct your own research on contemporary witnesses on the following websites:

Work with contemporary witnesses at the Marienfelde Refugee Center Museum

The Marienfelde Refugee Center Museum works closely with contemporary witnesses. Their accounts of their everyday life in the emergency reception camp or in the Marienfelde transitional home, their personal experience of the process, but also the views of residents or employees are important sources.

Work with eyewitnesses at the Berlin Wall Memorial

Since the end of the 1990s, the Berlin Wall Memorial has been conducting life story interviews with contemporary witnesses. Working with them is an essential part of the memorial's work.

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