From Ost-Berlin and beyond.

Europe is best seen from Berlin: the city of the wall is now a bridge between the East and West. Here, the East has never disappeared from the city's horizon.

Source: Wikipedia

Throughout history, Berlin (like Vienna) has been where the East and West intersected, sometimes in harmony and sometimes through conflict, migration, trade, and war.

For those of my west European generation X, the East was like the hidden side of the moon: there it was, but invisible. And indeed, many of us know the Orient better than the East: tourists in India, Cambodia, and maybe China, but not Bulgaria, Latvia, and Bosnia Herzegovina.

The very idea of the East is still ambiguous. Where does the East begin?

Growing up just thirty kilometres from the border with Yugoslavia, I always saw the East as beginning beyond Gorizia. However, for other Italians, Trieste represented the gateway to Eastern Europe. From Salzburger's perspective, Vienna was considered the East. And for a German from Stuttgart, divided or not, Berlin represented the East. The fall of political barriers, such as these historical and cultural borders and hinges, did not bring about greater understanding but rather confusion. As current events demonstrate, there is still much to comprehend about the East.

Bacon's standard map of Europe, 1923. Source: Wikipedia

Newsletter as a journey that starts from Berlin and goes beyond.

I am sharing my journey of understanding through this newsletter, with East Berlin as the starting point. I firmly believe that the heart of Europe lies in the East, where the future of our continent and Union, with all its possibilities, beauty, and potential fears, begins.

What Should You Expect as a Subscriber?

Through my posts, I collect and share stories, data and numbers, as well as people and books that serve as valuable sources and resources. I do not promote political theses or report on current events. Instead, I focus on recounting the past to understand more and be less surprised by the present we are experiencing.

Themes outline:

  • OST as Eastberlin / Ost-Berlin

  • OST as the women of the East (die Ostfrauen)

  • OST as former GDR/DDR

  • OST as Eastern Europe

  • OST as Culture and Aesthetics

  • OST as the migrations, displacements and exchanges that shaped the Europe of today.

Who's the author?

If you were to draw a line connecting the places where I have spent the longest periods of time, you would understand why I consider myself a child of the East/West border.

My origins are in the Northeast of Italy, an area with a rich and tumultuous history, including the Isonzo Front in World War I, the Nazi occupation zone along the Adriatic coast in World War II (Operationszone Adriatisches Küstenland) and finally, the Italian border with the Soviet bloc for the first eighteen years of my life.

Just a few kilometers from my home was Gorizia, a city that, like Berlin, was divided and today remains separated into two distinct cities - one Italian and one Slovenian. I have lived and studied in Milan and Vienna, spent some years in Salzburg and currently live in Berlin.

Stations of my life: from Udine to Berlin

For the past two decades, I have been developing media products, content, and audiences for various broadcasters, publishers, and brands. Initially, I worked as a product manager, but eventually transitioned into content leadership roles that focused on the intersection of publishing and brand building. I led international newsrooms and developed global audiences, took part at developing Red Bull Media House from the ground up, launched some of the most successful digital media products in Italy.

Before that, I got an MSc in Business Administration (Major in Management of Technology and Innovation) from the Italian Bocconi University and and advanced Degree in International Business at the Wien Universität. I refreshed my business skills both in Madrid, at the IE Business School, and in Denmark, at the IBC. I am a certified Agile Product Owner and a trained Design Thinker at the German Hasso Plattner Institut.

Despite an education centred on numbers and technology, my career has always revolved around words, ideas and content - sometimes it has been used to sell products and promote brands, but personally, I still prefer to sell ideas rather than products.

In addition to my managerial work, I have always had a passion for creating content on the side. This has included writing blogs, newsletters, op-eds for business media, and providing strategic analysis in my area of expertise: technology and media. If you would like to learn more about me, please visit valentinagiannella.com or my LinkedIn page.

OST / Berlin and Beyond is a very personal project that holds a special place in my heart. It is intentionally designed to be anti-social and fiercely pro-European. My goal is for it to not only provide enjoyment, but also spark curiosity and encourage critical thinking. Most importantly, I hope it helps readers see the East with fresh eyes and go beyond the surface level. I look forward to hear from you!

They believe in Europe, what about you?

People

Valentina Giannella
Italian by birth, (Ost)Berliner by choice, European by soul and beliefs.