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Freedom Without Walls: Boston College Selected to Mark 20th Anniversary of Fall of Berlin Wall (1989-2009)

events include oct. 21 dedication of berlin wall replica and oct. 29 talk by winston churchill's granddaughter edwina sandys on her sculpture created from berlin wall panels

CHESTNUT HILL, MA (10-19-09) – Boston College, the only Boston-area university selected by the German Embassy in Washington, D.C. to participate in a national commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, will kick off a month-long series of events October 21 at 1 p.m. with the dedication of a replica of the Berlin Wall on the Middle Campus of Boston College. (Details below.)

The commemoration, titled "Freedom Without Walls," and taking place at select campuses across the US, focuses on the fall of the Berlin Wall 20 years ago this November, which marked the end of the Cold War and the beginning of a fully united Europe.

Two decades later, the public is invited to join members of the BC community at free events on campus in October and November commemorating the fall of the Berlin Wall—including an exclusive lecture by Winston Churchill’s granddaughter Edwina Sandys and thescreening of a documentary produced by BC filmmakers to mark the anniversary. [Details below.]

BC organizers hope that “the commemoration will allow us to reflect on the importance of maintaining a democratic society that allows for differences, yet like a united Germany, will hopefully progress with only the good of its citizens in mind,” according to Boston College German Studies Department Professor and Chairman Michael Resler.

"The Berlin Wall has both a physical and metaphorical meaning," he adds. "Physically, it divided East and West Berlin, but it also divided the East and West as two superpowers - the United States and Russia - struggled for the hearts and minds of a people. Symbolically, it stood for oppression by the Soviet Union. The citizens of East Germany were deprived of their basic freedoms, while the Western powers came to the aid of those living more freely in a democratic West Germany."

Edwina 'Breakthrough': Edwina Sandys, granddaughter of Winston Churchill, with her sculpture at Westminster College in Fulton, MO.

On Thursday, October 29, Winston Churchill’s granddaughter Edwina Sandys will speak exclusively at Boston College about "Breakthrough," a sculpture she created from eight panels of the Berlin Wall at the site of her grandfather’s "Iron Curtain" speech at Westminster College in Fulton, MO.

Sandys, who also will take questions following her lecture, was among those interviewed for a new documentary produced for the anniversary, titled "Writing on the Wall: Remembering the Berlin Wall," by John J. Michalczyk, professor of fine arts at Boston College, and  BC O’Neill Library Circulation Assistant Ronald A. Marsh. Music Assistant Professor Ralf Yusuf Gawlick was responsible for the musical composition. The musical performance was by the Hawthorne String Quartet, BC's quartet-in-residence.

Shot on location in Berlin, the film—which debuted at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts on October 11 and will be screened at BC on November 4—highlights the principle phases of the reconstruction of democracy and international stability after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and captures the personal narratives of both leaders and citizens caught up in the political power struggle.[More on the film here .]

Boston College is one of only three Massachusetts universities selected to participate in the commemoration--which Resler attributes in part to the national prominence of the German Studies Department. Thirty colleges and universities nationwide were chosen to participate, including three others in New England, which Resler attributes in part to the national prominence of the German Studies Department.

An aim of the national commemoration, according to embassy organizers, is to reach out to the generation born around the time the wall came down. Resler applauds the goal, and says it is "very important to bring a better appreciation to college-age students of this unique chapter in human history. It's so remarkable that 20 years ago in Berlin this rare event took place. It was a revolution without bloodshed. The initial euphoria was unmistakable."

BC's anniversary events--hosted under the auspices of the University’s Institute of Liberal Arts and Office of the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences--include sponsorship and participation by the German Studies, Fine Arts, History and Music Departments, and the University's Jesuit Institute, as well as the German Embassy in Washington, D.C. and the Consulate of Germany in Boston. 


These events will take place at BC's Chestnut Hill campus, located at 140 Commonwealth Ave.

Berlin Wall Replica Dedication
Boston College Fine Arts Department faculty member Mark Cooper worked with BC students to create a replica of the Berlin Wall which will be displayed on campus during the commemoration and dedicated on Wednesday, October 21 at 1 p.m. on the Campus Green (Middle Campus) of Boston College
. It is approximately 12 feet high and 40 feet long with panels just under a foot thick, built to scale. The panels metaphorically represent the collapse of the Berlin Wall and a passageway to freedom, according to organizers. This summer, Israeli and Palestinian teenagers participating in an arts-based leadership program hosted by BC added their messages to this Berlin Wall representation.
For information: contact BC Professor and Fine Arts Department Chair John Michalczyk at or (617) 552-4295.


*Edwina Sandys, Sculptor: Thursday, October 29, 4:30 p.m., Devlin Hall 101. Edwina Sandys, Winston Churchill’s granddaughter, created the sculpture “Breakthrough” in the “Iron Curtain.” (More information above.) For information: John Michalczyk at or (617) 552-4295.

*Thursday, December 10, 7:30 p.m., Location: TBA. Prof. Robert Darnton, Harvard University Librarian and author of Berlin Diary. For information: Michael Resler at or (617) 552-3740.

BC student-led discussions will precede or follow film screenings.

*"Writing on the Wall: Remembering the Berlin Wall" - Wednesday, November 4, 7 p.m., Fulton Hall 511. A one-hour documentary film produced for the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. (Details above.) For information: John Michalczyk at or (617) 552-4295.

*"Goodbye, Lenin" - Wednesday, October 21, 7 p.m., Devlin Hall 26. A black comedy German film dealing with the Berlin Wall. For information: John Michalczyk at or (617) 552-4295.

*"The Spy Who Came In From The Cold" - Wednesday, October 28, 7 p.m., Devlin Hall 26. A British spy is set up by his handlers in Berlin during the Cold War. For information: John Michalczyk at or (617) 552-4295.

For more information, contact Rosanne Pellegrini, BC Office of News & Public Affairs, or BC Professor Michael Resler, German Studies Department, (617)552-3740 or