An academic at the University of Chester has created an innovative way to mark a key moment in German history – by using social media to tell the story in ‘real time’.
Dr Richard Millington is the programme leader for German in the Department of Modern Languages at the university.
He is a specialist in the East German uprising of June 17, 1953 and has developed a Twitter project to mark the 65th anniversary of this major event – with fictional characters tweeting their experiences.
He is also hosting a series of live Facebook broadcasts to promote his research and the Twitter project.
The uprising has been described as the Cold War’s first anti-Communist revolt (the more famous ones which followed included Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968).
It started with a strike by East Berlin construction workers the day before, on June 16.
By the next day, up to one million people were demonstrating across East Germany.
The protesters called for the resignation of the Communist East German government and the reunification of Germany.
To quell the uprising, Soviet military commanders declared martial law and sent in their tanks and troops, resulting in the deaths of up to 100 people.
Dr Millington said: “A lot of attention on East German history has been given to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, but it can be argued that the uprising of 1953 sowed some of the seeds that led to the eventual demise of East Germany.
“My research is on East German history and I published a book about the uprising in 2014.
“As it is the 65th anniversary in June, I wanted to create an innovative way of marking this event.
“I will be running a Twitter project which enables people to experience the East German uprising in ‘real time’.
“On June 17, seven fictitious citizens of East Germany will tweet about what they are experiencing, as if it were 1953.
“Six will tweet in German and one will tweet in English. Thus, the story of the uprising will be told.”
The website to accompany the project is: https://17juni1953live.wordpress.com/, with a link in the top right for non-German speakers.
The main Twitter account for the project is @17juni1953live.
Over the next few weeks, Dr Millington will also be taking part in a series of Facebook Live interviews with 8000ft media, a media company which specialises in historical and factual dramatic storytelling.