Summer School: “Carnival of Revolution: Central Europe 1989.” August 5-August 23, 2019

Mark Keck-Szajbel's picture

The Center for Interdisciplinary Polish Studies (ZIP) will hold its the sixth annual Summer School from August 5 – August 23, 2019. This program is designed for up to 15 university-level students interested in Central European studies broadly defined. This year’s summer school will offer graduate level seminars on Central European studies, as well as a two-week excursion along the “path of freedom” from former East Germany to the Hungarian-Austrian border.

The Summer School is designed for academically driven students in the advanced phases of their research (advanced BA, MA, and PhD students, as well as Post-Docs). This year, we will spend one week in Frankfurt Oder and Słubice, and then travel through Poland, Czechia, Slovakia, Hungary, Austria, and Germany, retracing the path of refugees who escaped communism 30 years ago, in the summer of 1989.

Thanks to the generous support of private donors, the Summer School will be offered at reduced costs to up to 15 students.

The focus of this year’s Summer School is “Carnival of Revolution: Central Europe 1989.” In the late 1980s, no one expected the collapse of communism, nor did they think the transition would be peaceful. Academics are still debating the reasons for its sudden demise. Was Gorbachev the decisive figure, or was it economic stagnation? Did Polish religiosity and Slovak environmentalism bring the regimes to their knees, or was it a handful of imprisoned dissidents? Why did all of the governments fall at roughly the same time? In this summer school, we will analyze the events of 1989. Using a vast variety of sources—from mass media to eyewitnesses and punk music—we will explore the politics, economics, and cultural history of the fall of European state socialism.

From 5-12 August, we will have compact seminars at the European University Viadrina (on the German-Polish border). From 13-24 August, students will retrace the journey of thousands of asylum-seekers in the summer of 1989 who, similar to modern-day refugees, faced seemingly insurmountable hurdles in their search for “freedom.”

Thirty years ago, the press began reporting how citizens of the German Democratic Republic were utilizing their summer vacations to travel to Hungary. In 1989, thousands of people began to flood West German embassies or illegally cross borders from Hungary to Austria, where leaders cut through the “Iron Curtain” allowing East bloc citizens to the West. We will be travelling roughly the route of East Germans in the summer of 1989.


Tentative Schedule 5-23 August 2019


5 August: Arrival in Frankfurt/Oder

6 August-11 August: Frankfurt Oder/Słubice

12-13 August: Wrocław

13-15 August: Bratislava

15-17 August: Budapest

17-18 August: Sopron

18-20 August: Prague

20-21 August: Bautzen

21-22 August: Leipzig

22-23 August: Berlin

24 August: Departure


To apply to the Summer School, please go to:

Review of applications will begin on May 10, 2019, and will continue until all available spots have been occupied.