1989 in a Day

Recollections and Reflections
Panels and Discussions

This is a series of conversations spanning various Eastern and Central European societies between someone, who was an active participant, or a close observer, of an event on a crucial date in 1989, and a person, who was still very young in 1989. Both speakers will start with personal reflections that will be followed by a debate about the relevance of this date/event today.


The format aims to highlight selected key events in 1989 by way of personal recollections and to examine their significance for current developments. The format focusses on eight selected dates/events of the year 1989, deliberately excluding the Fall of the Berlin Wall as this event retrospectively overshadows all others, which were not any less meaningful for later developments.

9:30-10:15 Hungary/Austria
27 June 1989: First breach in the Iron Curtain at the Austrian-Hungarian border
In conversation: Erhard Busek, former Austrian Vice Chancellor, and Holly Case, Professor of History, Brown University.

10:30-11:15 Yugoslavia
28 June 1989:  (In)famous speech by Milosevic on the occasion of the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo Polje
In conversation: Ivan Vejvoda, IWM Permanent Fellow, and Vuk Velebit, political analyst (Talas.rs) and civic activist

11:30 – 12:15 Poland
24 August 1989: First non-communist government since 1948 elected in Eastern Europe
In conversation: Andrzej Waśkiewicz, Head of the Institute of Sociology, University of Warsaw, and Aleksandra Głos, Jagiellonian University, Krakow

13:30 – 14:15 USSR/ Ukraine
8 September 1989: The Rukh Constituent Congress – a Precursor to the Collapse of the Soviet Union
In conversation: Volodymyr Kulyk, National Academy of Sciences, Kyiv, and Kateryna Ruban, PhD candidate in History, New York University

14:30-15:15 Germany/Czechoslovakia
30 September 1989:  Genscher’s Balcony speech at the West-German Embassy in Prague
In conversation: Ralf Beste, German Ambassador to the Republic of Austria and Dagmar Rychnovská, Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies Vienna (IHS)

15:30 – 16:15 Bulgaria
10 November 1989: Todor Zhivkov ousted and replaced by Petar (Petur) Mladenov
In conversation: Georgi Pirinski, former vice-premier and former foreign minister of Bulgaria, and Jana Tsoneva, PhD student in Sociology at Central European University (CEU).

16:30-17:15 Czechoslovakia
20 November 1989: Civic Forum rally in Czechoslovakia, estimate of 500.000 protesters
In conversation: Philipp Ther, Professor of Eastern European History, University of Vienna, and Jennifer Bergerova, BISLA/Bratislava.

17:30 – 18:15 Romania
25 December 1989: Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu sentenced to death and executed
In conversation:  Victor Neumann, Professor of History and Theory of History, West University of Timișoara, and Raluca Alexandrescu, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Political Science, University of Bucharest, Romania.

In cooperation with

Europe’s Futures – Ideas for Action
A strategic partnership initiative of IWM and ERSTE Foundation