Slavic and Eurasian Studies

Public to Design, Build "Wall of Change" to Mark Berlin Wall Anniversary

Mon, November 9, 2009 | UT Tower Plaza

5:30 PM - 7:30 PM

AUSTIN, Texas — To commemorate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, students and members of the public are invited to use their conscience, graffiti skills and a cardboard box to build a "wall of change" at The University of Texas at Austin on Monday evening Nov. 9.

The event will honor the revolution that brought down the wall on Berlin on Nov. 9, 1989 and led to a celebration reuniting people from East and West. It will also recognize the anniversary of the Night of Broken Glass or "Kristallnacht," the Nazi pogrom against Jews across Germany which occurred on the same date in 1938.

Participants should make their boxes prior to Nov. 9. They should use a standard 16"x10"x12" cardboard box with a lid, cover it with white paper and then decorate one long side with graffiti representing something that needs to be changed in the world today, such as violence or human rights abuses. The other long side of the box should be left blank, to evoke the East German side of the wall, which had no graffiti on it.

At 5:30 p.m., the boxes will be stacked to form the wall of change on the plaza in front of the Tower.  After a short program recognizing the two historical events, the wall will be dismantled to commemorate the Peaceful Revolution of 1989.

In honor of the Peaceful Revolution, we hope to inspire the participation of many students in re-enacting the power of public outrage. At the same time we plan to use this very public and participatory event to heighten the awareness in the larger community to contemporary problems of racism and violence.

The event is free and open to the public.

Twenty years ago, in fall 1989, a people's revolution shook the foundations of the East German State and reverberated through all of Eastern Europe. The organization of grass-roots opposition challenged the policies of the state in rallies and in protest marches that grew at an amazing speed despite the risk of brutal repression. The Peaceful Revolution led first to the departure of the hard-line leader, Erich Honecker, and to the beginnings of political reform that would significantly reshape Germany and eventually seal its fate. On the evening of November 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall fell. Within one year the two Germanys were reunified, an event that laid the groundwork for the European Union and its eastward expansion. Thus, it is important to celebrate the 9th of November as a day of liberation and the victory of the people over state repression.  But the 9th of November is also a highly complicated date in German history. It marks, among other events, the anniversary of "Kristallnacht." So this commemoration will involve thoughtful reflection on the vigilance and awareness necessary to prevent discrimination and violence against minorities.

For information on how to participate, please visit the UT Germanic Studies web page

This event is being organized by the Department of Germanic Studies and has received generous financial support from the Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies, the Department of Government, the Department of History, the Center for European Studies and the Center for Russian, Eastern European, and Eurasian Studies, all in the College of Liberal Arts at The University of Texas at Austin. The German Consulate in Houston is also a co-sponsor of this event.

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