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The fall of the Berlin Wall: the Revd Alexander Faludy and Dr Anna Rowlands in conversation

07 November 2019

A young man igniting candles in front of Gethsemane Church during the demonstration in 1989, Berlin

A young man igniting candles in front of Gethsemane Church during the demonstration in 1989, Berlin

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THE sudden fall of the Berlin Wall, on 9 November 1989, was an iconic and decisive moment that marked the end of the Cold War. It was, however, neither the first nor the last episode in the end of Com­munism in Eastern Europe.

The Revd Alexander Faludy is an Anglican priest who holds dual British and Hungarian nationality, and lives in Budapest, where he is presently pursuing legal studies. Dr Anna Rowlands is the St Hilda Associate Professor of Catholic Social Thought & Practice in the Department of Theology and Religion at Durham University.

On this week's podcast, they discuss their memories of the momentous events of 1989 and reflect on the impact that they had on Europe. 

Dr Rowlands visited Berlin on a school trip shortly after the initial fall of the wall, as the city was beginning to experience the euphoria of unification. “That made an enormous impact on me,” she says. “I think really it was my political awakening.”

Fr Alex says: “It was the first political thing I remember, but for slightly unusual reasons, because my family were Hungarian refugees during the Cold War. My grandparents were very courageous Social Democrat opposition journalists, my grandfather had spent three years in a political prisoners camp doing a forced labour sentence — on a starvation diet for much of that time. . .

“I remember seeing my father cry for the first time, because his father could go home from exile. The exile that was the foundational and framing fact of all of our lives.”

In a fascinating conversation, they reflect on, among other matters, the way in which Roman Catholicism in Eastern Europe was shaped by the legacy of the Cold War, and the rise of Christian nationalist governments in countries such as Hungary and Poland.

Alexander Faludy has written this week's cover feature for the Church Times on the events leading up to and including the fall of the Berlin Wall.

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