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About Franz Strasser

Franz Strasser | 06:00 UK time, Monday, 19 October 2009

For three weeks, I will travel back to the area where everything started and talk to people about all aspects of their last 20 years in a reunified Germany. Those I plan on meeting include the citizens of Altenburg, who saw the population of the city shrink from 55,000 to 35,000 when many left for better opportunities elsewhere and the people of Schlottwitz, who had built their own houses with the new currency and who saw them washed away in the flood of 2002.

With my camera and tripod, I will travel to areas where unemployment is as high as 17%, to cities such as Leipzig and Dresden that blossomed with the support of international tourism, and to places where the successor of the German Reich Party, the NPD, receives 11% of the vote.

Franz Strasser looks at a MercedesWhen the Berlin Wall came down on 9 November, 1989, I was five years old and stood in our small kitchen in a housing complex in East Germany.

I did not grasp the events that were unfolding but I remember seeing the joyful faces of my parents who had lived all their lives behind the Wall, dreaming about another world out there to discover.

20 years later, on a sunny day in New York City, I saw the same expressions on both their faces when I proudly showed them my Masters diploma from Columbia University's School of Journalism - a place impossible to visit just two decades earlier. I now work for BBC World News America.

Franz StrasserA lot has happened to the people of Eastern Germany since that day in 1989. It brought together two very different economies, reunited families, and started a new era for people living east and west of the former border.

This blog will be updated throughout my journey with videos and my notes. Your thoughts, comments and questions are very much appreciated.

PS: The first image in this post shows me standing in front of a Mercedes Benz showroom in West Berlin shortly after the Wall fell.

You can see more images of my childhood in this picture gallery.


  • Comment number 1.

    I look forward to reading your blog. When the wall fell, I was 32, a journalist, and actually heading to Potsdam, which was a coincidence of sorts, since you had to apply ahead of time to travel to the GDR. I had been to East Germany several times, because of my in-laws who lived there.

    But just as a reminder: The fall of the Berlin wall was spectacular, partly because of its symbolic value. But actually, much of the work was done by the Hungarians. They dismantled their border nearly three months before. Earlier, in June, Budapest's Heroes Square had seen two major events: the reburial of Imre Nagy, the somewhat accidental hero of the '56 uprising (he had been acquitted on June 6, the day Kádár died), and a second demo, which went largely unreported, against Romania's oppression of ethnic Hungarians.

    That the Wall was crumbling was obvious, but editors were not interested. At least they responded, though. Today you can't get an answer at all....

  • Comment number 2.


    Thanks for the informative information regarding
    your background...And, excellent pictures...

    =Dennis Junior=

  • Comment number 3.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 4.

    Hey Franz I enjoyed your Germany segments. And good job with everything. You are really cute too! From Florida, U.S.


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