Mock Berlin Wall To Be Built And Torn Down At The University Of Wyoming
A 32-foot-long mock Berlin Wall will be built on the south side of Prexy’s Pasture to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989. The mock wall will be built on Friday, September 12 and torn down on Thursday, September 18.
ROTC students will “guard” the wall just as American soldiers did at Checkpoint Charlie. Students and visitors will be able to spray paint graffiti on the wall for the week after it is built, and tear it down with sledgehammers. The tearing-down event will be at noon on September 18 and will feature a keynote speech by Thomas Risse, professor at the Free University of Berlin.
Stephanie Anderson, an associate professor in the UW Department of Political Science who visited Germany in December 1989, obtained a grant from the German embassy to sponsor the events. She says she responded to the embassy’s call for proposals with a plan to “spur analytical, contemplative and creative thought throughout the semester.”
“I find some of today’s students think the Cold War ended in the 1960s, and that it wasn’t as serious as people thought at the time,” says Anderson, who teaches international relations and European integration. “It’s very difficult to get through to them the idea that people believed nuclear war could happen at any moment.”
Many students are aware of the wall from the photos and video images of President Ronald Reagan urging Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall,” Anderson says.
She also hopes the UW events will serve as reminders that walls still exist all over the world today, including the West Bank and East Jerusalem in Israel, the U.S. border with Mexico, in Morocco to guard the western Sahara, Korea’s 38th parallel and other locations.
“Walls provide a false sense of security,” she says. “If there is a testament to human ingenuity, it’s in the wall museum of Berlin that documents all the ways that people escaped the wall -- over, under and through; hot air balloons hidden in suitcases in cars; mini-submarines -- it’s incredible.”
Another lesson Anderson conveys to her students is that all conflicts end and that peace is obtainable. She reminds her students that people who lived through the Cold War thought it would end with nuclear war.
To view more “Fall of the Wall” events, click here.