As the 30th anniversary of the fall of Berlin wall approaches, I wish I was in Berlin to join in the celebrations. I can just imagine how lively the city must be right now – well maybe I can’t because to me it was so lively even without the celebrations – the atmosphere must be electric as the city approaches this anniversary. Since I can’t be there I decided to do my own countdown with a blog every day between now and November 9th on Berlin Wall, or some aspect of it.
Thousands of miles away from Berlin, in the most unexpected place – in the peaceful and leafy campus of Kennesaw State University campus there is a piece of Berlin history. A section of the wall, with a particularly cheerful graffiti lies on this campus. Well, perhaps not completely unexpected because I’ve realized that Georgia has quite a few sections of the wall. Apart from the one on the KSU campus, there is one in Suwanee (which I wrote about previously), there’s one at the Atlanta International School (I am so envious!!), the National Infantry Museum in Fort Benning has three sections of the wall on display in their Cold War gallery, and Freedom Park in Fort Gordon has two sections of the wall on display.
The wall in KSU was donated to the college by Chuck Clay who is a former senator of Georgia. Mr. Clay’s grandfather, General Lucius D. Clay commanded the American forces in Europe after World War II and organized the Berlin airlift. The wall was given to his grandson, Chuck Clay by a grateful city in 2000. He donated the section of the wall to KSU in 2010.
The bottom plank of the wall was in the East Berlin side. It was included with the second generation wall after a soldier with a tank broke through the first generation wall and escaped into the West. With this plank at the bottom, the wall would have fallen on the tank rather than on the other side. This stopped people trying to escape by breaking through the wall with cars, tanks etc.
The West Berlin side of the wall is where the original graffiti would have been found, and the graffiti on this wall is a particularly cheerful one. The bright yellow, smiling sun or sunflower with almost perfect petals against the deep blue background is simply stunning and would have brought a smile to many West Berliners in the 1980s. There seems to be some green grass at the bottom, and words that I couldn’t really make sense of. The grey of the wall is visible on top where the white backgrounds paint ends, and I imagine there are many layers of graffiti underneath.
In this section of the wall, the East Berlin side also has graffiti, something that was obviously done after the wall fell. The top scene looks like a gondola in Venice, with a covered bridge on top. Below that there’s some interesting graffiti going on but unfortunately, I can’t make out what’s going on. There are layers of writings though none seem fully visible.
The students of KSU are fortunate to have this piece of history in their midst. For some it might just be a concrete sculpture that they walk past everyday on their way to class, while others may pause and reflect upon the history that surrounds this section of the wall. For me the Berlin Wall with its graffiti holds endless fascination; for me each piece of the wall is art, history, end of World War II, rise of Communism, cold war, fall of Communism, freedoms denied, freedoms regained, families torn apart, families united, unbelievably brave East Berliners, even more unbelievable miraculous escapes, and above all the resilience of the human spirit that has yet to meet a wall it can’t bring down.