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3.24 of 5 stars 3.24  ·  rating details  ·  372 ratings  ·  49 reviews
"Ich such die DDR / und keiner weiß, wo sie ist", schrammelten die Anarcho-Punks von "Feeling B", nachdem ein gewisser Hans Modrow das, wie es damals hieß, "marode" Staatswesen besenrein an Helmut Kohl übergeben hatte. Seit dem Fall der Mauer war kaum ein Jahr vergangen, und wer damals an der Schwelle von Kindheit und Erwachsensein stand, hatte es wirklich nicht leicht: In ...more
Taschenbuch, 176 pages
Published June 30th 2003 by Rowohlt-Taschenbuch-Verlag (first published 2003)
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This book is an important personal account of cultural dislocation. Jana Hensel was born in East Germany and was in her early teens in 1989 when the Berlin Wall fell. In her own words, "It frightens us to think that we were but brief guests in our native land." While she is not entirely nostalgic about her childhood in the GDR, she does remember a way of life and a set of values that were essentially wiped away at the time of reunification. So began her attempt to adapt to the reality of Western ...more
Ein Mädel, kaum älter als ich, berichtet über ihre Kindheit die sie in der damaligen DDR verbracht hat. Das ganze ist kein Roman sondern mehr eine Ansammlung von kleinen Essay-ähnlichen Kapiteln.
Da wir beide wie gesagt fast gleichaltrig sind, sind ihre Erlebnisse fast auch meine Erlebnisse und wirklich hab ich mir auf fast jeder Seite gedacht: genau so war es.
Ich stimme nicht ganz mit ihrer Ansicht überein, wie wir uns damals und nach der Wende selbst gesehen haben. Sowas ist immer subjektiv,
What will you do if your country chase to exist and everything that was known to you from one day to another is not there anymore? What would you feel if your new country is full of people that despise you or try to help you and you do not want to be helped? Life after the fall of the wall is different for whom was behind the wall. GDR life described by a girl that was thirteen when "her world" comes to an end and from her parents on, no adults are able to teach her how to live or survive in the ...more
This book was a pain in my neck. If it wasn't for my class, I would not have finished it. Jana Hensel totally annoyed me! Maybe it's my lacking ability to identify with the Eastern-Germany-I-lost-my-home-Theme ... but I doubt that. I'm usually quite interested in history and the event itself is fascinating, also the time and people. But Hensel is just one annoying Ossi.

I hoped to learn something about the German Democratic Republic and the way of life perceived by a mere child and the consequen
Pam Rasmussen
I had an au pair who grew up in East Germany, then moved to the West, and I remember her telling me that she missed how the East took care of its residents. The West, she said, seemed rather cold and uncaring in contrast. That would be a surprise to many people who think Communism was all bad. Jana Hensel's book is indeed unique in focusing on the transition required of that generation. But what I found very sad was the sense of loss, confusion and abandonment felt by her parents' generation. An ...more
The voice of the author is often irritating, particularly because of the generalizations about groups of people which she makes quite firmly.

Nonetheless, I haven't seen a lot of books on this fascinating topic, so it was interesting. And, it's a really easy, quick read.

Was this young adult non-fiction does anyone know? For some reason, it seemed so, perhaps because of the age of the author during the time period in question.

She has another book in German, I think. Wonder if it was translated.
Feb 16, 2010 Daisy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Marieke
Recommended to Daisy by: Muphyn?
Every generation's experience of the GDR is different, from those who were alive before WWII, to their children who were born when East Germany was a "given," to those of different ages who lived through the Fall of the Wall. Hensel makes a point of stressing that she and kids of her generation often need to act as translators for their parents, even though their parents speak the language. Interesting.
Ik denk dat ik het woord 'verschwinden' en vervoegingen daarvan nog nooit zo vaak ben tegengekomen in een zo klein aantal bladzijden. Jana is een zeurpiet. Het hele boek lang doet ze zielig over hoe haar jeugd is verdwenen en er niks van de DDR is overgebleven, maar nergens geeft ze blijk van waardering, nooit zegt ze dat het er zo leuk was. Tuurlijk, ik heb soms ook best heimwee naar dingen die eigenlijk niet zo geweldig waren, maar om er dan een heel boek over te schrijven... En dan vooral een ...more
Apr 28, 2012 Jan-Maat added it
Recommended to Jan-Maat by: A book review
Written I think as Ostalgie was trending after the abandonment of everything associated with the DDR in the immediate post Wende period. Hensel recalls the particularities of her youth before 1989. It seems to me to be Leipzig-centric and I don't imagine it was entirely typical, but still very readable and sympathetic.
Kathy Halsan
Nathan gave me this book for Christmas. Having visited both East and West Berlin this summer and hearing stories frm some of our tour guides about the end of the GDR, this book was especially interesting. For these young people, they can "never go home again".
A good little book that looks back at the BRD Anschluss that dismembered the DDR and the effect that the desire by the West to eradicate its memory had on the last generation and their elders. The book contrasts and contradicts the (pre and post 1989) encouraged assumptions about life in the DDR without retreating into rose tinted Ostalgia. It is yet another valuable addition to the growing library which has developed on the US inspired and delivered brand of "freedom and democracy". The fact th ...more
This is a pretty interesting book. Jana Hensel is of the last generation of the GDR. The Berlin Wall came down whens he was 13. Her perspective was interesting for me, mostly because we're about the same age. My perspective of East German and Soviet Union kids were equally as foreign as Hensel's description of Western kids.

While I think she paints in very broad strokes - saying things like "we" and "they" or "western people" a lot - it is a fairly well written exploration of what it was like on
I found it to be very easy to read, although I expected something more structured. It wasn't written as a chronological account of facts, which is what I thought I would find. It felt a bit confusing to me at times, but then again, it reflects the confusing times the author lived.
I spent from 1988 to 1996 in a High School that was sponsored by Germany. I remember 1989 and the significance of the fall of the wall, I was 10 years old. We celebrated the reunification of Germany, but now I see that
Staci Wigton
It's common belief that life in the communist East Germany was terrible compared to the capitalist and "imperialist" West. Hensel's goal when writing this novel was show people that life growing up in the GDR wasn't all that bad and even criticizes the FDG and the westerners for being so narrow minded. When the Berlin Wall fell the west absorbed the east and all the GDR citizens had to conform to a new capitalist society that they were never accustomed to. Hensel mentions growing up in a classle ...more
The stories about childhood in DDR were the most interesting part of this book, and if you're interested in that, this is the book for you. However, much of the angst about not fitting into the world that came after it I just couldn't connect with. Maybe it's because I wasn't born in DDR, but I have a feeling it was also because of the structure of the book. It was a little bit too much jumping back and forth with the theme-based chapters.
Reading this book enlightened me to the mindset of the East Germans at the time of the Berlin wall and in the years after the wall came down. I learned a lot about East Germany and the GDR that I did not know before as most of my history classes have focused primarily on West Germany, the Nazis, and the Holocaust, rarely if ever mentioning East Germany and the GDR. With that said, I did think that Jana Hensel could be a little bit repetitive and whiny during the telling of her story. I am sorry ...more
This book is a fascinating look at the generation 'in-between' from the GDR - the ones who spent their childhood as East Germans and their adolescence in the reunified/ transformation period. This in itself is fascinating because as children they have only a vague awareness of the political context of their lives and its significance. Also, they have no experience of East Germany in the most difficult years. Still, she clearly articulates how one can lose one's sense of connection with their chi ...more
Telaara Dunwin
Oh Mann, war das übel. Ich gehöre ja selbst zur Generation der "Zonenkinder", aber die Erfahrungen der Autorin decken sich nicht einmal annäherungsweise mit meinen. Aber das wäre ja nicht so schlimm, da ja jeder die Welt anders erlebt. Schlimm war der Stil, in dem das Buch geschrieben wurde: vollkommenes inhaltliches Durcheinander, kein Konzept und der weitgehende Verzicht, diese biographische Geschichte auch biographisch darzustellen. Stattdessen immer nur ein "Wir", so als ob alle Kinder diese ...more
Susan Ovans
Read this right after finishing Petropolis, which was a fictional story of coming of age in the Soviet Union. Jana Hensel, who wrote After the Wall, tells a real-life story of coming of age in the former GDR, known in the U.S. as East Germany, and of feeling adrift when, as a young teenager, the wall fell and her Communist country was reunited with the West.
The problem is that Ms. Hensel tells only her own story, and it's a boring one. It's hard to tell why this book apparently became an instan
Hensel spent her childhood in East Germany and was 13 years old when the Wall fell. Her essays describe her teenage and young adult years, as she tries to adapt to life in a new country (the united Germany), where she is fluent in the language but clueless in the culture.

I was fascinated by the details of Hensel's East German childhood [would I have enjoyed being a Young Pioneer, I wonder?] and by the disconnect she felt with her West German peers. Although Hensel wrote this before the era of bl
What I found very interesting about this book that I visited Berlin a few years ago, and many things they talked about, the perspections of each side respectively, were mentioned while I was there. I spoke to some people from East Germany and some from West Germany, and to see their opnion reflected in this book was very interesting.
I have not read anything else about the integration of these people back into their proper country. It does make me want to read more about it, but I'm not sure I'll
Bruce Bowman
Ms. Hensel does an excellent job of portraying the sense of loss many East Germans must have felt after reunification. This is a truly bittersweet look at the GDR.
Este libro, que me ha llevado meses terminar, lo he le��do para el curso de alem��n C1 que hago en el instituto Goethe. La verdad es que me he aburrido ley��ndolo, aunque el estilo era muy ameno. No s��lo ha sido porque estuviese en alem��n, sino porque todas las cosas de la DDR (la RDA, en espa��ol) a m�� me sonaban a chino. Desgraciadamente, en clase de Historia en el instituto jam��s se molestaron en contarnos nada sobre ese tema (la Segunda Guerra Mundial era lo ��nico de lo que se hablaba) ...more
Anne Sanow
A short and easy read--the chapters have the feel of brief essays, and the pace is brisk--this is nevertheless a fascinating look at living a childhood under a Socialist collective mentality and then, suddenly, poof: overnight it's gone. The "we" narration can come across as too broad, and GDR class distinctions are unclear (the author seems to be at once from a privileged and normal background, and surely there were distinctions); given that this was published when the author was in her mid-20s ...more
Nice to get her insight in book form gave me something to think about as she was born in the same time frame as my kids
Jumping into this book was exciting. I was getting a first hand insight to what it was actually like for a young person living in a communist society. It was interesting to hear her reminisce about her seemingly distant childhood. It shows that as a child the big things don't really matter, we love the little things and will be nostalgic regardless of whether we lived in affluence, or poverty, bondage or freedom. Very personable and enjoyable to read. There were some parts where I didn't know if ...more
Tahlia Lopez
This book changed my perspective about 'how bad' I thought living in a communist country must have been. Worth a read!
Jana Hensel with "After the Wall" has managed to put down on paper her memories of her childhood during the last years of GDR and the first years of the reunification. It is a really interesting subject, not one we are used to reading about, the transition from a socialist society to a capitalist one. I like the way the author, in a simple way, with little details of everyday life describes the lifestyle of the old East German society and the way her generation experienced the transition, when t ...more
Kris McCracken
I'm always up for an East German generational memoir, which is Hensel's goal here. What differentiates this one from many of the others is that Hensel reflects on the very last of that generation, those that were at the tail end of their childhood at the fall of the Berlin Wall and whose teenage years coincided with the process of reunification. I'm not certain that this translation helped (it was packed full of jarring Americanisms), but was an interesting-enough reflection. C.
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