Twenty years after it was torn down, a piece of the Berlin Wall is going back up—this time as a monument to freedom. On Saturday, July 3, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center on the Ohio River in Cincinnati is dedicating a graffiti-covered, 4-by-12-foot section of the Berlin Wall as a monument to its fall in 1989.
Rabbi Abie Ingber, director of Xavier’s Office of Interfaith Community Engagement, is offering the prayer at the dedication.
"The fall of the Berlin Wall represented a critical moment in our modern history when, symbolically, the totalitarian repressive Communist regime collapsed,” Ingber said. “Modern Germany has been a tremendous exemplar of a new respect for dignity, pluralism and moral leadership in our world community. On the eve of our Independence Day, this wall represents freedom and the pursuit of liberty in our lifetime."
The dedication ceremony, “Freedom without Walls,” features German dancers, Beethoven’s "Ode to Joy," hors d'oeuvres, dinner, jazz with the Kathy Wade Trio, and a musical finale. The event takes place from 5:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. at the Freedom Center, 50 East Freedom Way, downtown. Tickets are $50 per person and include valet parking. Reservations can be made at www.freedomcenter.org/berlinwall.
Keynote speaker Malcolm Thomson, formerly with Alliance-Bernstein on Wall Street, authored Cleopatra's Needle, an espionage-thriller based on events leading to the 1967 Six Day War. Thomson serves as Chairman of the Open University Foundation (American Friends of the Open University) and as a member of the International Governing Council. He was the Rabbi of Temple Shalom in Greenwich, Conn., and has served on the Board of Trustees of Jewish Theological Seminary since 2002.
The 96-mile Berlin Wall was erected by the Communist East German government in 1961 to prevent residents of Communist East Berlin from getting to Democratic West Berlin. It divided families and friends, and was a symbol of the Cold War divisions between communism and capitalism. It was torn down in 1989 and in 1990, East Germany voted to reunite with West Germany and became the reunified Federal Republic of Germany.
The effort to bring the wall segment to Cincinnati began with Richard Schade, professor of German studies at the University of Cincinnati and Cincinnati’s honorary consul for the German government. He flew to Berlin as the wall was coming down in 1989 and began efforts to obtain a wall segment from the city of Berlin.
Fabian Schmahl, president of ThyssenKrupp-Bilstein of America, a German-owned manufacturer of shock absorbers with an office in Hamilton, offered to ship the piece. The Munich Sister City Association of Greater Cincinnati help Schade obtain funding for the design, installation and maintenance of the monument.