Historic fall of Berlin Wall to be remembered, celebrated on campus

With assistance and funding from the German Embassy in Washington, D.C., Western Carolina University will commemorate the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall through a series of presentations, activities and contests.

In post-World War II following defeat of the Nazis, the jurisdiction of Germany was divided between the democratic countries of the Allied Powers and the communist-led Soviet Union. Further division was applied to the capital city of Berlin, with the communist leadership erecting a wall between the two sectors in 1961 to prevent routine travel and defections. On Nov. 9, 1989, travel restrictions were lifted by East German (communist) leaders and jubilant citizens began to chip and tear away at the wall.

“The Berlin Wall was a physical barricade and a dark ideological symbol of oppression, and its removal was a significant historical moment,” said Will Lehman, event organizer and WCU associate professor of German. “The WCU commemoration events are meant to celebrate the vibrancy of democracy and the arts, music and culture of the reunified Germany.”

Events on campus, open to the public and free, are,

  • Wednesday, Oct. 30, “Wall of Words: Developments in the German Language Since Reunification” by Regine Criser, 6 p.m., McKee Building Room 134
  • Sunday, Nov. 3, through Friday, Nov. 8, Berlin Wall poster exhibit in Gallery 130 of the John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center
  • Monday, Nov. 4, film “Das Leben der Anderen” (“The Lives of Others”) screened, followed by a short discussion with Susann Berlin, 6 p.m., A.K. Hinds University Center theater. A DegreePlus event for students
  • Friday, Nov. 8, mock Berlin Wall construction and defacement with spray paint, noon outside main entrance of McKee Building. Also, “United But Still Divided: Germany 30 Years After the Fall of the Wall” by Stephan Schindler at 6 p.m. in McKee Building Room 121. A DegreePlus event for students
  • Saturday, Nov. 9, mock Berlin Wall destruction, 3:30 p.m. outside of McKee Building main entrance

There also will be competitions for posters, speaking German and translating German, with cash prizes, on Nov. 9 in McKee Building Room 121:

  • Beginner German language contest, 10 a.m.
  • Intermediate German language contest, 10:45 a.m.
  • English translation contest, noon
  • Poster contest, with winners chosen by students in attendance, 2 p.m.
  • Raffle and prize giveaways for all students present, 3 p.m.

Cash awards for each contest are $80 for first place, $40 second place and $30 for third place. Pre-registration is required for language contests at https://wunderbartogether-wnc.org. Poster entries must be emailed by Monday, Nov. 4, to welehman@wcu.edu.