I am old enough to remember when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 , but not so old that I remember it going up in 1961.
Simon Schwartz’s The Other Side of the Wall, translated from its original German by Laura Watkinson, tells the story of his parents’ departure from East Germany in 1984.
Telling the story in black and white illustrations reminiscent of Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis,
Schwartz tells us about his parents’ Communist upbringing in the German Democratic Republic and the ideas and events that eventually brought them to the decision to leave. There is some awkwardness as he shuffles back and forth in time, but the reader comes to understand the difficulties his parents suffered through as they awaited permission to emigrate to West Germany.
This book would pair nicely with The Wall by Peter Sís, about Sís’ youth in Cold War–era Prague,
or Going Over, Beth Kephart’s YA novel about young love and an escape across the Berlin Wall from East to West.
All of these books give readers interesting insights into the Cold War as experienced by those on the other side of the Iron Curtain.
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