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Our Life Behind the Berlin Wall: A Memoir for our American Daughters

Thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, there has been a wealth of historical writing about the German Democratic Republic (GDR) at the macro level. This book supplements that record with a history written from the micro level, detailing what it was like to live in that society with the advantages of both an insider's and an outsider's perspectives. As a diplomat assigned to the U.S. Embassy in East Berlin, Dr. Sandford had sources of information inaccessible to most visitors from the West. Representing one of the four WWII Allied powers with occupation rights in Berlin, he experienced at firsthand the complexities of four-power control of that city. He also traveled freely within East Germany, speaking with GDR government officials, dissidents, and average citizens, including clergymen who shared their informed views on what was really going on in that society.Framed as a personal record for his two daughters who were small children at the time, this memoir describes Dr. Sandford's experiences and impressions of East Germany in its latter years (1984–87) and those of his family. With a combination of anecdotes, narrative descriptions, and informed analysis, it conveys the texture of life there both for local people and for resident diplomats. Finally, it recounts how he and his East German contacts experienced the fall of the Wall and the transition to democracy in their individual ways.

--Gregory W. Sandford

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