For the last several months, New College of Florida students and professors have been building a replica Berlin Wall on campus to study the history of the Cold War and the divide between East and West. The Berlin Wall fell 30 years ago tomorrow, and students will be taking sledgehammers to their replica at a public event on campus Nov. 8 in honor of the anniversary.
The project was organized by professor Lauren Hansen, who is currently teaching a course called “The Berlin Wall in German Literature and Film." In January, Hansen led an independent study about the portrayal of the Berlin Wall in German literature, and the idea for the replica wall was created by her small group of students. While other universities have created replica walls in the past, New College students also reenacted historical speeches, presented film screenings, and held graffiti sessions and poster presentation sessions. Creating the wall also turned into a timely project about national and international experiences of separating groups of people, cities and countries, notes Hansen.
The New College wall stands eight feet tall and 16 feet wide (the actual Berlin Wall stretched more than 100 miles) and was assembled in the middle of Koski Plaza on Bay Shore Road in view of cars and pedestrians. Students are forced to walk around the wall as they go to class, in another reminder about the division. One side of the wall represents East Germany and the other is West Germany. The “West German” side is covered in graffiti and art. The “East German” side is gray, with photos of the Germans who died as they attempted to cross. “It has become a place where students and faculty from the entire university can come to discuss borders and the divisiveness we encounter today in the U.S. and other parts of the world,” says Hansen.
The Berlin Wall replica is located at Koski Plaza at New College of Florida, 5800 Bay Shore Road in Sarasota.