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Article
The Influence of Gamification and Platform Affordances on User Engagement in Online Learning

Veryaeva K., Solovyeva O.

International Journal of Distance Education Technologies. 2021. Vol. 1. No. 19. P. 1-17.

Book chapter
The Impossible Totality of Ukraine’s “People”: On the Populist Discourse of the Ukrainian Maidan

Baysha O.

In bk.: Discursive Approaches to Populism Across Disciplines. Palgrave Macmillan, 2021. P. 63-90.

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International Trade And Democracy: How Trade Partners Affect Regime Change And Persistence

Pronin P.

Basic research program. WP BRP. National Research University Higher School of Economics, 2020

Public talk with Larisa Belzer, witness of the fall of the Berlin Wall

On November 19-23, the OPIA Documentary Club will host the Berlin-Gärten Divided City Festival. The first event — a public talk about the events in Berlin in November 1989 — took place on November 7 at the ZIL Cultural Center. Club volunteer Karina Mansurova chose and transcribed the best moments of the conversation.

Public talk with Larisa Belzer, witness of the fall of the Berlin Wall

The OPIA Documentary Film Club invited Larisa Belzer from Berlin, this was her first visit to Moscow in ten years. Larisa Belzer is a political scientist, former professor of Gender Studies at German universities. She told the audience about how she got on a Europe tour, how she spoke at public events with her friend and writer Lois Fischer-Ruge, who devoted to the Belzer family several chapters in her book «Everyday Life in Moscow». And, of course, she shared her memories of Berlin, as she found him in November 1989.
«In 1953, in the GDR there was the first riot in the socialist camp against the Soviet occupation. The workers did not have their working hours reduced or their wages raised. In the West, there was a different standard of living and it was clear that the GDR was second-class Germany. But this revolt was suppressed by Soviet troops with a large number of victims. In 1989 Gorbachev announced that the troops would be withdrawn from Germany, and the Soviet leadership would never again go on to kill the Germans. The German population very closely watched the course of perestroika — they understood that they perhaps had their only chance of a peaceful unification of the country. In this sense, the destruction of the wall was just a prologue to the unification of Germany», — Belzer said.
Larisa also shared her memories of how people who have lived on opposite sides of the wall for so long united: «While my sister and I were traveling across Germany, we had a different perspective on the fall of the Berlin Wall. Those people who rushed westward after the fall of the wall were scattered throughout the country. We watched how western German citizenship actively helped to accommodate refugees from the east, helped them to find a life perspective and adapt to it».

«After the collapse of the USSR and the socialist camp, a completely different world began. When I was 20, I could not even imagine that I could buy myself a ticket and fly to Berlin myself, for example, and travel freely. All this happened after the inconceivable prohibitions fell, when adults were not allowed to “walk for a walk” by their strict “parents” who were in the CPSU Central Committee».

Larisa Belzer said that after the war enterprises, agricultural land — everything that was considered bourgeois — was taken away from people in East Germany, following the Soviet model. After the unification, the land was returned to the owners or their heirs. «I have a familiar family — famous journalists, aristocrats, lived in the eastern part of Germany. They had a successful career, but they suddenly gave up journalism and returned to their estates. During these 30 years they have turned them into a blossoming garden», — says Belzer.

«People of our generation would not have thought of this (the idea of organizing a festival about a divided Berlin - ed.), because we were not given such a run. We didn't have such freedom — it ended just in front of our noses. I really hope that the younger generation will participate in the globalization of the whole world».

The listeners asked many questions: for example, whether the fall of the wall is being celebrated now. Larissa said: «Yes, in today's Germany, two events are celebrated with a small interval. The first is the unification of Germany, which took place two years after the fall of the wall. October 3 is a national holiday, a non-working day. I would say that this holiday is politicized. And the very day of the fall of the Berlin Wall, which is celebrated on November 9, is rather aestheticized».

Another listener asked if there are any differences between West and East Germans now and if the older generation of East Germans has any fond memories of the period of divided Germany:
«The difference between the West and the East has not disappeared over 30 years. East Germans have different attitudes to their identity: someone hides it, and someone isa really proud of their culture. The conflict, of course, persists among the older generation, and young people sometimes do not even understand what causes such disagreements», — answered Larissa.
The author of the question about the attitude of people towards former Stasi agents received from Larisa Belzer a present — Krakauer's book «Ornament of the Mass. Weimar Essays» (by the the publishing house Ad Marginem — partners of the Berlin Gärten Festival). Answering the question about the relationship of Stasi agents with their family, friends and colleagues, Larisa told a story about her close friend:
«We met her in Hungary: she is an incredibly interesting person, very strong-willed, from a Jewish family. In the GDR she created a public organization from the Jewish community. There was a completely different policy towards Jews in contrast to the USSR: they fought against feelings of guilt and did everything possible to revive the Jewish culture. Her parents left Nazi Germany for the United States, and after the end of the war, they returned to the GDR. My friend taught at the university, made a great career, could travel all over the world. Naturally, everyone believed that she had privileges because of her place of birth and American passport. In fact, she collaborated with the Stasi — it turned out immediately after the unification. The fact is that she was an employee of the University of Berlin, and professors, cultural figures and artists were the first to be tested for involvement with the Stasi. Two large articles were published in "Der Spiegel": they named specific names of people who ended up in jail because of her. It was a terrible blow for me».

The first thing I did — I called her and said: «Irena, I read those publications, and what you did with other people is your business and you should deal with it, but what you did for me, my sisters and my mom will always stay between us. And all this should not affect our relationship in any way». This was my position. She really did a lot for our family: she fed us, dressed us, took out medicines, when it was almost impossible to get it in Moscow.


Оne more person — Russian language expert, a friend of Russian poets — had a home poetry salon in the GDR. He knew that there were informers in his salon: two people wrote detailed reports to the Stasi after each literary meeting. During his poetry readings he kept his own protocol about who spoke and how. And recently he went to the Stasi archives and found denunciations of those people who came to his salon. On the basis of these materials, he published an album type book: on one page there were his notes, and on the other - the full text of the denunciation».

To watch the full recording of the public-talk with Larisa Belzer: https://youtu.be/5mgKfU51pBY

To learn more about Berlin Gärten festival: https://berlingarten.opia.me

Text: Karina Mansurova and Ksenia Vakhrusheva

The OPIA Documentary Film Club would like to thank the Faculty of Communications, Media and Design for their support in organizing the event.

On November 19-23, the OPIA Documentary Club will host the Berlin-Gärten Divided City Festival. The first event — a public talk about the events in Berlin in November 1989 — took place on November 7 at the ZIL Cultural Center. Club volunteer Karina Mansurova chose and transcribed the best moments of the conversation.


The OPIA Documentary Film Club invited Larisa Belzer from Berlin, this was her first visit to Moscow in ten years. Larisa Belzer is a political scientist, former professor of Gender Studies at German universities. She told the audience about how she got on a Europe tour, how she spoke at public events with her friend and writer Lois Fischer-Ruge, who devoted to the Belzer family several chapters in her book «Everyday Life in Moscow». And, of course, she shared her memories of Berlin, as she found him in November 1989.


«In 1953, in the GDR there was the first riot in the socialist camp against the Soviet occupation. The workers did not have their working hours reduced or their wages raised. In the West, there was a different standard of living and it was clear that the GDR was second-class Germany. But this revolt was suppressed by Soviet troops with a large number of victims. In 1989 Gorbachev announced that the troops would be withdrawn from Germany, and the Soviet leadership would never again go on to kill the Germans. The German population very closely watched the course of perestroika — they understood that they  perhaps had their only chance of a peaceful unification of the country. In this sense, the destruction of the wall was just a prologue to the unification of Germany», — Belzer said.


Larisa also shared her memories of how people who have lived on opposite sides of the wall for so long united: «While my sister and I were traveling across Germany, we had a different perspective on the fall of the Berlin Wall. Those people who rushed westward after the fall of the wall were scattered throughout the country. We watched how western German citizenship actively helped to accommodate refugees from the east, helped them to find a life perspective and adapt to it».