Faculty, NPR Reporter Speak at Berlin Wall Commemoration

Olivia DrakeSeptember 16, 20143min
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berlinwallIn 1961, the Communist government of the German Democratic Republic began constructing a 96-mile-long dividing wall in attempt to prevent Western “fascists” from entering East Germany and undermining the socialist state. The Berlin Wall, made of concrete and barbed wire, prevented emigration and more than 170 people were killed trying to cross or get around the wall. On Nov. 9, 1989, the head of the East German Communist party opened the checkpoint, allowing thousands of East and West Berlin residents to pass through. Elated residents, later known as “wallpeckers” used hammers and picks to break apart the wall.

In 1990, East and West Germany reunified into a single German state. To date, the wall serves as a symbolic boundary between democracy and Communism during the Cold War.

In commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the German Studies Department is hosting a series of lectures.

At noon, Sept. 24, Eric Grimmer-Solem will speak on “From Great War to Great Wall: The Fall of the Berlin Wall in Historical Perspective” in Fisk 210. Grimmer-Solem is associate professor of history and tutor in the College of Social Studies.

At noon on Oct. 15, Sarah Wiliarty will speak on “The Fall of the Wall — A Political Perspective” in Fisk 210. Wiliarty is associate professor of government, tutor in the College of Social Studies and director of the Public Affairs Center.

At 7 p.m., Oct. 29, NPR news reporter Bellamy Pailthorp will speak on “The Fall of the Wall — An Eyewitness Perspective.”

At 4:15 p.m. Nov. 6, Krishna Winston will speak on “The Wallpeckers” and lead a reading from Günter Grass’s novel, Too Far Afield. Winston is the Marcus L. Taft Professor of German Language and Literature, professor of German studies and coordinator of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship program.

“25 Years: Fall of the Berlin Wall” is co-sponsored by the German Embassy in Washington D.C. All events are free of charge and open to the public. For more information call 860-685-3359.