An Example, Not a Blueprint: Germany’s 1989 and Korean Reunification (GMF)

Historical anniversaries are always a time to reflect, to celebrate and criticize times past. They usually portray a national or international commemoration of an event that had a significant impact on a community. And they give room for cries for a repetition or a condemnation of it. With the thirtieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, this phenomenon is yet again evident across the globe—1989: the year in which a divided German city rang in the fall of communism; the year in which a torn country laid the grounds for reunification; the year in which freedom won over oppression. A glorious success, a leading example for the rest of the world.

Carolin Wefer

Reflecting on 1989: What the Past Three Decades Can Tell Us About the Future (GMF)

Thirty years ago, the Berlin Wall fell, ending the division of an entire continent. The bipolar system of the Cold War dissolved and a new optimism about the future took hold in the West and around the globe. Liberal democracy was on the march and Francis Fukuyama’s thesis of “the end of history” pointed the way ahead. Today, the hopeful mood of 1989 has been replaced by gloom. The West is no longer unified in its support for liberal democracy and a new geopolitical competition is reshaping the international system. What lessons can we draw from 1989 to face current challenges? How should we handle today’s uncertainty to protect democracy tomorrow?

Keynote Speaker and Panelist

  • Francis Fukuyama, Professor of Political Science, Stanford University


  • Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff, Vice President, The German Marshall Fund of the United States
  • Alina Mungiu-Pippidi, Professor of Democracy Studies, Hertie School