East German papers offer glimpse of history

On Nov. 10, 1989 -- the day after the Berlin Wall officially fell, sending thousands of East Berliners stampeding through open checkpoints to see the other half of the city for the first time in 30 years -- East Germany's major newspapers didn't have much to say about it. Berliner Zeitung and Neue Zeit ran small articles about "new travel regulations." Neues Deutschland, the official Communist Party mouthpiece, buried the story at the bottom of the page under articles with headlines such as "Fourth Communist Party Conference Called for December 15-17, 1989" and "Information on the Policy of Renewal and the Party's New Thinking.

An overview of the role print media played in the Communist German Democratic Republic (GDR) is now more accessible than ever before, thanks to an archival project that has digitized the full texts of three major East German newspapers and made them available for free on the Web. Anyone can now rifle through some 40 years of East German history as printed in the pages of Neues Deutschland, Neue Zeit, a socialist theoretical journal, and Berliner Zeitung, the only East German paper to regain credibility and circulation after reunification....

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