Irish Times Berlin Correspondent Gives Talk to Germanic Studies Students

Posted on: 18 December 2009

‘Berlin is not Germany’: Derek Scally, Irish Times Berlin  Correspondent talked on this theme to a packed audience of students of the Department of Germanic Studies on  December 7th last. As Berlin correspondent to the national newspaper,  Derek Scally has played a key role in making contemporary Germany a subject of renewed and growing interest in Ireland. His links to the Department of Germanic Studies came about through the work of Dr Gillian Martin and her research in intercultural communication, especially in business contexts. With a series of telling examples and some acute analysis, Derek Scally showed  how too much focus on Berlin and on ‘the fall of the Wall’ gave a misleading picture of Germany: Berlin, for all its historical significance and its fascination as a fashionable destination, was only part of Germany’s rich and contradictory heritage. The ‘Berlin Wall’ had come to symbolise the East-West divide, but it was only 10 per cent of the German-German border that stretched for 26 years from the Baltic to the Bavarian forest. Moreover, by 2009 it was increasingly hard to separate the German revolution of 1989 from the media events and international politicians’ photo-opportunities which accompanied its twentieth anniversary. Derek Scally fascinated his audience with individual stories of experiences of the German-German border which cut through these media stereotypes to the lives behind them. Moreover, he reminded  the audience , whole generations were now growing up born in 1989 or later, for whom divided Germany was history and who were open to new ideas and new views on Germany, Europe and the world.