Two momentous events of German post-war history were commemorated in 2009 – the founding of East and West Germany 60 years ago and the fall of the Berlin Wall 20 years ago which led to the reunification of both states. The History Forum 2009 was one of several large-scale projects with which the Federal Cultural Foundation was commemorating these two anniversaries in 2009. Another project:
People in Germany, Central and Eastern Europe have very different memories of the collapse of the communist dictatorships in their countries. In commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the peaceful revolution of 1989, the German Federal Agency of Civic Education, the German Federal Cultural Foundation, the Foundation for the Reappraisal of the SED Dictatorship, the Institute of Contemporary History in Munich - Berlin, the Centre for Research on Contemporary History Potsdam, and the association "Against Oblivion - For Democracy" were co-organizing a four day festival titled History Forum 1989 | 2009.
Building on the success and the positive response of the first history forum in 1999, scientists, contemporary witnesses, cultural producers, artists, journalists and politicians were invited to Berlin to discuss their positions with the public. The main focus on 1989 as a year of political upheaval was supplemented by three other themes: the history of the communist dictatorships in Germany, Central and Eastern Europe, the parallel histories and historic relationship between East and West Germany, and the development of Germany and Europe since 1989.
The History Forum in 2009 also featured a public podium, the programme of which was developed and managed by the project organizers. Individuals from Germany and Europe, civic interest groups, artists, and cultural, educational and research institutions were invited to participate with their own projects and events. Discussions, lectures, workshops, interviews, testimonies by contemporary witnesses and multimedia presentations were accompanied by a number of other artistic forms that examine history - such as films, plays, readings, lecture performances and music.
The presentation of artworks and the involvement of artists at the History Forum 2009 provided a stronger cultural dimension and artistic perspective to the debate than in 1999. The project organizers worked closely with curators to present positions from a diverse range of artistic areas. The many ways of approaching contemporary history were reflected by the variety of venues at the History Forum 2009. Humboldt University, the German Historic Museum and the Maxim Gorki Theater formed a multi-disciplinary campus for the events at the heart of Berlin.
An event funded by the German Federal Agency for Civic Education, the German Federal Cultural Foundation, the Foundation for the Reappraisal of the SED Dictatorship and the Institute of Contemporary History Munich-Berlin, the Centre for Research on Contemporary History Potsdam and the association Against Oblivion - For Democracy, with the Humboldt University Berlin, the Maxim Gorki Theater and the German Historic Museum