Primary Sources

Press Release Regarding the Berlin Wall Memorial at the Baker Institute (Rice University)

Description

In 2000, 11 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Rice University installed a section of the former wall as a permanent part of the Baker Institute. Speaking at the opening ceremony for this monument, Rice University President Malcolm Gillis noted that the remnants of the Berlin Wall serve to remind us that no structure is capable of confining "the human mind and the human spirit in its quest for freedom." Also speaking at the event, German Ambassador to the U.S. Juergen Chrobog noted that the Berlin Wall came down "because the people of the former Germany in a display of remarkable courage exerted the will to be free."

This document is a press release issued by Rice University on the occasion. See also the photographs of the monument taken by Ann Ziker in 2008.

Source

B.J. Almonds, “Segment of the wall on campus represents peace,” Rice University press release, November 30, 2000, Rice University (accessed on March 18, 2008).

Primary Source—Excerpt

11/30/2000

Segment of the wall on campus represents peace

BY B.J. ALMOND

Rice News Staff

“The segment of the Berlin Wall on the Rice campus is a tangible reminder of the physical barrier that separated oppression from freedom for 28 years and the ultimate victory of freedom and the rule of law,” Rice President Malcolm Gillis told guests at a Nov. 10 ceremony dedicating the monument.

Gillis and Juergen Chrobog, ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to the United States, unveiled the Berlin Wall Monument to Rice students, faculty and staff and other guests of the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy. The 12-foot-high structure recently was relocated to the southeast corner of Baker Hall to acknowledge former secretary of state James A. Baker III’s leadership of America’s foreign policy in 1989 when the Berlin Wall was taken down and the subsequent successful effort to unify Germany in peace and freedom.

The Baker Institute hosted the dedication and a panel discussion to commemorate the 11th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Gillis recalled the wall’s origin. “I remember it well because I was of draft age,” he said. “In August ’61, the Soviets took the drastic step of building a wall, not like the Chinese to keep enemies out, but to keep its own people in....”

Gillis cited the symbolic significance of the wall on the campus. “Rice University always has been dedicated to the freedom of the human mind and the human experience,” he said. “Let this historic piece of concrete be a reminder that no physical barrier is strong enough or big enough or tall enough or thick enough to confine the human mind and the human spirit in its quest for freedom.”

Chrobog recalled the 1989 destruction of the wall that had separated families and friends for nearly 30 years. Many Germans remember precisely where they were and what they were doing when they learned that the Berlin Wall would no longer restrict travel between the East and West, he said. “It was one of those rare moments when one could witness history in the making. I cannot think of anything that better symbolizes the end of the Cold War.”

Chrobog said the wall crumbled “because the people of the former Germany in a display of remarkable courage exerted the will to be free.”

Noting that the monument at Rice can give only “a faint idea of how oppressive and disturbing” the Berlin Wall was, he said the wall’s concrete face, barbed wire and guards imprisoned 70 million Germans....

Rice’s Berlin Wall Monument was originally installed on the campus in 1991 between the Speros P. Martel Center for Continuing Studies and the Rice Media Center. Weighing 5,000 pounds, the panel is 12 feet high and four feet wide. It was extracted from the Frohnau district of West Berlin, on the border with the East German district of Oranienburg, in April 1990.

ALBA GmbH Corp., a German waste-disposal company, obtained the panel and presented it to Browning-Ferris Industries of Houston as a token of friendship between the two companies. Browning-Ferris donated the wall to Rice at the urging of Mary McIntire, dean of the School of Continuing Studies. The writing on the monument is actually on the side of the wall that faced east, which suggests the graffiti was applied after the wall came down or after people had access to the east side when the wall was no longer guarded.

How to Cite this Source

B.J. Almonds, Rice University News Staff, "Press Release Regarding the Berlin Wall Memorial at the Baker Institute (Rice University)," Making the History of 1989, Item #564, http://chnm.gmu.edu/1989/items/show/564 (accessed November 01 2014, 2:16 am).