Published: December 20, 2021
Are you interested in reading more about the Berlin Wall? Our list of 11 books offers you an insider's look at this important divider in history.
We've included writings about those that snuck to the other side while it was still standing, it's importance in history, and what happened after it was torn down. You will also find some books on why it fell.
Written by: Helena Merriman
Published: August 24th, 2021
Tunnel 29 is the story of an extraordinary escape beneath the Berlin Wall by Helena Merriman. This book takes you back to when Germany was divided into East and West, with the Western part being democratic while the Eastern side was communist. The author tells us about how tunnels ran under the wall to allow people from both sides to visit one another.
But these tunnels weren't just used for reunions; they also became a way for spies, dissidents, and fugitives to cross over safely. One of them was Joachim Rudolph, who dug the wall to help so many escapes. You will read about his story, about the networks that wanted to film them, and how others escaped…or didn't because of traitors and the Stasi (Nazi secret service). There was a documentary made by NBC named Tunnel 29, and Helena Merriman also has a podcast of the same name.
Written by: Frederick Taylor
Published: May 29th, 2007
In 1961, the Soviet Union erected a barbed wire fence between East and West Berlin to keep its two million citizens from defecting to the Western world. This fencing evolved into a wall, complete with guard towers and machine gun-wielding soldiers, that completely cut off East Berlin from the rest of the city. For 28 years, the Berlin Wall served as a physical and symbolic representation of the Cold War divide between East and West.
The fall of the Berlin Wall is considered one of the most outstanding achievements of European integration and has been credited with paving the way for German reunification in 1990. In November 1989, however, the wall was finally torn down amid massive celebrations throughout Germany. Taylor explains how the wall continues to impact, geopolitical and socially, even today.
Written by: Michael R. Meyer
Published: September 8th, 2009
When most people think of the fall of the Berlin Wall, they think of the peaceful and triumphant events in November 1989. President Ronald Reagan once said, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" People think that was the start of all that happened afterward. However, in reality, that was only the result, and there was so much more going on behind the scenes.
Meyer's book features exclusive interviews with key players on both sides of the wall and tells the complete story of one of history's most meaningful events. These include lesser-known people such as Lech Walesa, the PM of Budapest, Miklos Nemeth, and others. Whether you think you know the whole story of how this wall fell, we can assure you that this book will give you the information you've never heard from any other book elsewhere. Mr. Meyer was the bureau chief for Newsweek at the time in Germany.
Written by: Anna Funder
We all know that the wall was built to prevent East Germans from fleeing the communist Eastern Bloc. Though its dismantling began on November 9, 1989, it still left traces of itself behind. Stasiland explores the lives of those who found themselves on either side of this wall before and after its construction.
With a journalist's eye for detail and clarity, Anna Funder has created a work that is not only illuminating but also profoundly moving. This book will take readers back to one of the most tumultuous periods in recent history with poignant prose and fascinating interviews. These include those with the average person and former members of East Germany's secret police force (the Stasi).
Written by: Mary Elise Sarotte
Published: October 7th, 2014
It was a warm autumn day in November, and the citizens of East Berlin were out and about as usual. But something was different that day – something big was happening, though nobody knew it yet. The wall that had divided their city for 28 years was finally coming down. This momentous event didn't happen because of a planned protest or an act of rebellion – it was primarily accidental.
Many unknown characters were working behind the scenes that have been forgotten, including Roland Jahn, Aram Radomski, and others who were bringing information to the West. Others include members of the East German government who made pronouncements without realizing their effect.
One of the more exciting aspects is that Tom Brokaw was broadcasting live since there were so many expectations of this happening. Because of the world seeing all this happening live and in person, it became one of the reasons that the wall would fall that fateful and incredible day.
Written by: Nina Willner
Published: October 4th, 2016
This memoir is simply unforgettable and seems to be so incredible that it could be fiction, but it isn't. Willner tells how her mother left West Germany to move West. She had to leave behind her father, mother, eight brothers and sisters, and everything she knew as home. After escaping, she moved to the U.S.A. and had her own family.
That is only the beginning of her story: Her daughter Nina became the first woman in the Army Intelligence and would transfer secrets back and forth from the East to West as she crossed the Berlin Wall. This non-fiction account shows how dangerous it was to help the East Germans find freedom and peace. Many photographs help you imagine what Nina went through during these horrifying times.
Written by: Peter Millar
Published: September 10th, 2009
Most of the books on this list tend to be very serious, while 1989 The Berlin Wall also has humorous anecdotes about life on both sides of the wall. Spending over a decade in East Berlin and other cities in the U.S.S.R., Millar has insights like no one else since he was a correspondent for newspapers in the West at this time.
We love this book because it doesn't just focus on his time in the communist world but also how he became the person who would report on these incredible events in time. This includes his hitchhiking trip, where he found his desire to be a journalist and hanging out with the rebels at bars on the Eastern side of the wall. You then get his inside perspective on how the wall falls and the aftermath. Charli
Written by: Greg Mitchell
Published: October 18th, 2016
Most people know about the fall of the wall, and now from reading this list, there were tunnels that people used to go back and forth. However, you may not know that NBC and CBS were alerted to these tunnels and wanted to do live reporting inside them to show how people were being brought to safety.
You will learn about many people involved in saving lives and putting themselves in danger from torture and death. Meanwhile, when President John F. Kennedy and Secretary of State Dean Rusk found out, they were worried it would escalate the already high tensions between the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R.
Using extensive research from Stasi articles, U.S. documents, and interviews with people, this book is riveting at each moment.
Written by: Iain MacGregor
Published: November 5th, 2019
Checkpoint Charlie was one of the main crossings from East Germany to West Germany and back. Meanwhile, people were crossing over, under, and in any way they could find to get free. This book delves into their stories and the major players in the governments that controlled their fates.
Most people think this was only between President Kennedy and Stalin, but it includes Mao Zedong, Nixon, Khrushchev, and many other political players. On top of that, there was the Stasi, CIA, MI6 (Britain's secret service), and even the journalists that covered it for years. Including interviews with the people who built and destroyed the wall gives an inside view like no other.
Written by: Tim Mohr
Published: March 20th, 2017
We can honestly state that this is the only book of its type that you will find on any list anywhere. This book documents how the rise of punk rock, with the underground subversiveness, helped bring down the Berlin Wall. By rejecting everything that the communist government desired, compliance, conformity, and a lack of individual freedom, these young punks would not be held down by them.
Their story is quite terrifying as not only did the Stasi and other government agencies spy on them, but they later found out their friends and family were helping the East German government to bring them down. They were beaten, tortured, and spent time in prison trying to control them. Instead of giving in and giving up to the power, they fought back using music and bringing the sound of freedom to other revolutionaries who helped bring down the wall.
Written by: Charles River Editors
Published: March 4th, 2015
The Berlin Wall was the most iconic symbol of the Cold War, and its fall in 1989 was a momentous event that marked the beginning of the end of the Cold War. The history and legacy of the Berlin Wall are complex and fascinating, and this book explores it all. Starting with the wall first being built, the airlifts to help the stranded in East Germany, the freedom fighters and the Stasi trying to stop them, and so much more.
This wall allowed the Americans, Great Britain, and France to prove that communism was repressive and destroyed cultures instead of keeping the people safe. Whether you're interested in the history of the wall, its impact on Germany, Europe, or the world, this book has something for you.