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Fall of the Berlin Wall: Public Commemoration

Join us for a commemoration of the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the wall

Mon, November 9, 2009 | Plaza in Front of UT Tower

5:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Fall of the Berlin Wall: Public Commemoration

Twenty years ago, in the fall of 1989, a people's revolution shook the foundations of the East German State and sent shock waves through all of Eastern Europe.  The organization of grass-roots opposition groups challenged the policies of the state in rallies and then in public protest marches that grew at an amazing speed despite the risk of brutal repression.  This "Peaceful Revolution" led first to the departure of the hard-line leader, Erich Honecker, and internal party discussions of political reform, and then to the opening of the fortified border between East and West Germany.  This break in the Berlin Wall, on the evening of November 9, 1989, which no pundits had predicted and no one had dared to dream about, led to the reunification of Germany in less than a year and laid the groundwork for the European Union and its eastward expansion.  Thus, we celebrate the 9th of November as a day of liberation and the victory of the people over state repression. 

And yet, the 9th of November is a highly complicated date in German history. It is also the anniversary of the Night of Broken Glass or "Kristallnacht," the Nazi pogrom against Jews across Germany in 1938. So this commemoration will involve a thoughtful reflection on the vigilance necessary to prevent this kind of discrimination and violence against minorities.

The events begin at 5:00 p.m. when students arrive with their box (available from Germanic Studies, CES, and other locations) and the organizers will help coordinate the "construction" of the Wall (by stacking these light-weight boxes in a line on the plaza).  Then after some short statements by various members of the UT and larger Austin and Texas community about the significance of these two anniversaries, we will schedule a moment of silence combined with a candle-lighting ceremony to remember the anti-semitic pogrom of Kristallnacht and to point to the fact that more work and constant vigilance are required to achieve change and make the world better, more peaceful, and more just. After this there will be a brief transition to allow people to assemble in front of the box "Wall" and then to dismantle the wall as a commemoration of the "Peaceful Revolution" of 1989.


5:00 - Arrival at plaza and assembly of "wall"

5:30 - Short Remarks by Speakers

6:00 - Candlelight vigil and moment of silence

6:15 - "Fall of the Wall"

6:30 - 8:00 - Reception on the Plaza

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  • Center for European Studies

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    Austin, Texas 78712