SU commemorates 25th anniversary of fall of Berlin Wall with recreation on Crouse College lawn

The university is among the 43 U.S. schools participating in German Embassy-sponsored programming this week.

Nov. 9, 2014, will mark the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. In commemoration of this event, 43 schools across the U.S. are participating in “campus weeks” campaign sponsored by the German Embassy in Washington, D.C.

These campaigns commemorate the event through “challenging essay contests, fall of the wall celebrations, speaker events, German movie screenings and other unique events,” according to the German Missions in the United States website.

At SU, this campaign began in September with film screenings, lectures and discussions about the historical and contemporary cultural significance of the Berlin Wall. Those six weeks of programming culminated Monday with the installation of a “Berlin Wall” constructed by eight School of Architecture students. Assistant professor of architecture Jonathan Louie and construction consultant John Bryant of Haywood Custom Fabrications led the students.

The day’s events began at 10 a.m. with opening remarks from Mary Lovely, chair of the international relations department, who spearheaded the project alongside the German program coordinator and assistant professor Karina von Tippelskirch.

High school students taking German classes at Fayetteville-Manlius and Onondaga Central high schools were invited to take part in the day’s events.

“It’s a good outreach to the community,” Lovely said. “Letting them see what we have to offer beyond football, beyond basketball.”

At 1 p.m. the final piece of the wall was put in place, and students were given Sharpies and encouraged to draw on the wall, similar to the way that the Berlin Wall in Germany was covered in graffiti. Although timid at first, the students soon opened up, drawing and writing freely a mixture of English and German phrases.

“Most of them were not born when the wall was brought down,” Lovely said. “They are going to hear a lot about it on Nov 9. on the news, and we wanted them to go into that day already feeling educated.”

The wall will stand on the south lawn of Crouse College until Saturday, Oct. 25, around 1 p.m., when it will be torn down. Saturday’s events also include a “Why We Remember the Fall of the Berlin Wall” panel discussion at noon in 220 Eggers Hall. Panelists include von Tippelskirch, assistant history professor Laurie Marhoefer and a political attaché from the German Embassy.

A time-lapse video of the construction of the wall will also be shown prior to the destruction of the wall, and a panel will choose the winner of the digital story contest, which asks SU students to submit three to five minute videos about Berlin and the wall that separated the city for 28 years. Afterward a reception will be held in the same room. 

Three more commemorative events will be held in November: a discussion on Nov. 3 and two film screenings later in the month.

Through this commemoration those involved hope that students will gain an understanding of the significance of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Von Tippelskirch said she also hopes that it will get students thinking about what the wall means to them, and in their own lives.

“Twenty-five is one of the anniversaries that is always celebrated,” von Tippelskirch said. “I’ve grown up in East Germany, so to me the fall every year is important. But I’ve also got students from other places in the world where walls still stand, so I know this is important to them.” 

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