The Open Society Initiative of Berlin has gifted the United States a piece of the Berlin Wall to commemorate the 30th anniversary of its fall with a letter to Donald Trump on it.
While on a field trip to the Newseum in Washington, D.C., members of the Shippensburg University Student Media LLC witnessed this piece of the wall being transported to the White House. The wall stopped just outside the Newseum, where students had the chance to photograph the wall and talk with those transporting it.
“Seeing a piece of the Berlin Wall itself was cool,” said Emma Halsey, a student in the LLC, “But witnessing it become a part of history was very rewarding.”
The wall segment is a “Stützwandelement,” or support wall, from the 4th generation pieces, according to Philip Husemann, the managing director of the Open Society.
A group of citizens from Berlin worked with the Open Society on what is called The Wall against Walls Campaign, which was created in October 2019. Since the idea was relatively spontaneous, Husemann said getting the wall to America in time for the presentation meant they had to fly it over instead of shipping it by boat.
Husemann said one of the reasons the Open Society took on the project was to remind the president what the United States has always fought for.
“It is better to tear down walls than to build new ones, whether it’s the walls in people’s minds or real walls that divide countries and people,” Husemann said. “It is also a big ‘Thank You’ from the Berliners to the United States and its people for the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.”
The wall was presented at the White House on Nov. 9 by Marcos Cline-Marquez, the U.S. spokesperson for the Wall against Walls campaign.
However, according to the Wall against Walls Campaign website, the delivery was refused by the White House.
After the refusal, the wall went on a cross-country road trip to San Diego while the Open Society looks for a permanent place to install the wall.
“It’s important to us that it be exhibited in a space where everyday people can view it” Husemann said.
Even though the wall was refused, people can still sign the letter of the wall online where the full message is also displayed.
The Open Society was created in fall 2015 when a large stream of refugees arrived in Germany, Husemann said. Germany became extremely polarized and “in this heated mood it was clear to our founding team: we must finally get back to talking about our democracy constructively and with one another,” according to Husemann.
The Open Society currently has 5,700 members. According to the Open Society website, this day is a chance for neighbors to get outside and open their doors to eat and converse with friends and strangers about their society.
The wall, which weighs 2.7 metric tons and stands at 12 feet tall, reads:
“Dear President Trump, this is an original piece of the Berlin Wall. For 28 years, it separated east and west, families, and friends. It divided not only Berlin and Germany, but the whole world. Too many people died trying to cross it — their only crime being their desire to be free. Today, the world celebrates the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Germany is united again and in Berlin only a few scattered pieces remind us that no wall lasts forever. For decades the United States played a major role in bringing this wall down. From John F. Kennedy to Ronald Regan, the Presidents of the USA fought against it. We would like to give you one of the last pieces of the failed Berlin Wall to commemorate the United States dedication to building a world without walls. Citizens of Berlin.”
For more information, visit thewallagainstwalls.com or the Wall Against Wall Campaign Facebook page.