Celebrating 20 Years: Rhodes Commemorates the Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall

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Publication Date: 11/4/2009


Fragment of the Berlin Wall

On November 9, 1989, the border separating East Germany from West Germany opened, and the Berlin Wall fell, signifying the end of the Cold War and a easing of tensions between the Communist Eastern Block nationalists and Western capitalist democracies.

Associate Professor of Modern Languages Michelle Mattson explains, “The Berlin Wall became a symbol of the Cold War and of the very concrete, no pun intended, manifestation of the way the world responded to German guilt after the Holocaust and the Second World War. When the wall fell, it opened all sorts of doors, boundaries, and barriers.”

While the aftermath of the fall was felt all around the world, Mattson adds, “For the Germans, it was enormous because they felt that it was both an opportunity for them to reconnect with the people who they’d been separated from for so long and for them finally to convince the world that they had outgrown the legacy of the Second World War.”

To celebrate the anniversary of the fall of the wall, Rhodes will host a panel discussion with four Germans, now living in the Memphis area, who experienced the fall and its aftermath. The event will take place on Sunday, Nov. 8, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., and the panelists will share their individual experiences of the fall.

In addition, German classes are working on student presentations and projects, one of which includes constructing a small-scale replica of the Berlin Wall out of boxes. Students will decorate these boxes with significant events that happened around the wall and with vocabulary common for the East German era.

Rhodes Professor Felix Kronenberg will give a presentation about what certain sites along the wall looked like while the wall was up and about what has happened since then. Professor Mattson will give a presentation about the East Side Gallery, a standing section of the wall in East Berlin where several artists collaborated and painted murals as an international memorial for freedom.

For media interesting in contacting Dr. Mattson:
Phone: 901-843-3524
Email: mattsonm@rhodes.edu

(information compiled by Rhodes Student Associate Brianna McCullough ′10)