Bits of the Berlin Wall make global art

David Rising
Associated Press

Berlin – For nearly three decades, the Berlin Wall encircled West Berlin, built by communist East German authorities ostensibly to protect the country from “fascists,” but in reality to prevent their own citizens from fleeing into the democratic half of the divided city, a portal to the rest of the free world.

For a barrier meant to prevent travel, chips, chunks and full segments of the 97.2 mile -long reinforced concrete Berlin Wall have done a pretty good job themselves getting around Germany and the rest of the world in the past 30 years.

The Berlin Wall divided the city from 1961 until it was first opened on Nov. 9, 1989, though it took much longer to be removed entirely. In Berlin today, some symbolic segments still stand in their original locations, left in place as a reminder of what was known as the front line of the Cold War, a daily physical reminder of the metaphorical Iron Curtain between eastern and western Europe during those times.

As jubilant Germans tore at the Berlin Wall in 1989, many pocketed small pieces to take with them, and small stands were set up almost immediately by the more enterprising to sell larger chunks as souvenirs. Today, bits of unknown provenance are still for sale in tourist shops in the German capital.

Larger slabs have been purchased or given to display in museums, embassies, schools, parks, memorials and in other locations around the world.

In New York, two slabsare located in Kowsky Plaza in Battery Park. Elsewhere in the city, in the sculpture garden of the United Nations headquarters, three segments are painted with the words “trophy of civil rights.”