1989 - A German Story

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Episodes

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01Under One Flag20091103

Series in which German programme-makers reflect and report on aspects of the reunified country that rarely, if ever, find their way into the British media.

Thomas Franke explores the German armed forces, the Bundeswehr.

When reunification took place in Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, one of the most painful institutional mergers was of the former East and West German armies.

Ex-GDR forces were often obliged to accept lower grades in the united force.

Yet today, having had to engage together in combat during the NATO Yugoslav operation of 1999, the Bundeswehr is, perhaps surprisingly, one of the success stories of the reunited nation.

Yet, routinely, the annual swearing in ceremony in front of the Reichstag in Berlin is disrupted by noisy protests by those exercised by the notion of an army fighting under the German flag.

Thomas goes on patrol with the army around the Kosovan city of Prizren, where they are a part of the peace-keeping force, and visits the annual swearing-in ceremony where new members of the forces take the oath before Chancellor Merkel.

But echoes remain of the horror inflicted on Europe by another German army, and such solemn moments are never far from controversy and protest - especially when former peaceniks are now members of a government which sends its young men to bear arms in both Europe and Afghanistan.

Thomas Franke travels with the German army to Kosovo to observe the peacekeeping force.

02The Sad Death Of Mack The Knife *20091110

Series in which German programme-makers reflect and report on aspects of the country that rarely, if ever, find their way into the British media.

Helmut Kopetzky tells the story of East German actor Wolf Kaiser.

At the Berliner Ensemble theatre, Kaiser played Mack the Knife in Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill's Threepenny Opera.

He was perhaps the GDR's biggest star on film and TV; he had a fortune and a mantlepiece full of awards and state honours, including the GDR's gold Patriotic Order of Merit.

But in October 1992, Kaiser jumped to his death from his Berlin apartment window.

Helmut Kopetzky, who had a few days earlier conducted a long and searching interview with Kaiser, uncovered a story of a man raised and feted by the communist regime who suddenly found himself utterly out of joint with society.

Now in his late 60s and still a prolific 'author' (as the Germans describe producer/presenters), Kopetzky is the doyen of German radio feature-makers, the winner of several Prix Italia and Prix Europa and Premios Ondas top international awards for documentary.

03 LASTWesternising East Berlin20091117

Series in which German programme-makers reflect and report on aspects of the country that rarely, if ever, find their way into the British media.

Award-winning Berlin-based feature maker Jens Jarisch explores the shifting identity of five places in the former eastern sector of the city.

For Jarisch, Berlin is a landscape of dreams and nightmares.

His tortured picture of low-life on the city's Kurfurstenstrasse (Die K) won some of radio's biggest prizes.

Now, he again turns to the city to meet the denizens of several iconic places that were famed in the days of the GDR.

He finds that some have changed completely and yet others remain much as they were 20 years ago.

Jens Jarisch on the identity of several places in the former eastern sector of Berlin.