Loyola Marymount University is home to one of the panels of the Berlin Wall. Symbolizing the spirit of liberty and freedom of thought, the panel stands on the central part of the campus., During October, LMU students will decorate a replica of the wall as part of “The Wall Project,” commemorating the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. On Sunday, Nov. 8, 2009, 30 decorated panels will be placed across Wilshire Boulevard., cleaving Los Angeles in a manner intended to call to mind the 30-year separation of East and West Germany. Ten additional panels will form a display called “Wall Along Wilshire.”
Those who watched on television will never forget the crowds assembled at the Berlin Wall in November 1989 to demand free passage between East and West Berlin. When the East German government relented, on Nov. 9, 1989, hammer-wielding celebrants began to chip pieces off the wall. Not long after, the wall was dismantled, preparing the way for Germany’s reunification in October 1990.
“When I got the assignment to work on the wall, I started doing research and talking to my relatives,” said Justin Manzano, a senior studio arts major and director of the Thomas P. Kelly Jr. Student Art Gallery. “They watched the whole thing happen on TV.” Manzano, one of nine LMU student artists who will contribute to the design, said he hopes to inspire students to see protest as a moral support for important causes.
LMU acquired its piece of the Berlin Wall to LMU began as a result of a casual suggestion by Dirk Verheyen, then a professor in the Department of Political Science. Verheyen was on sabbatical in Germany in February 1996, when he met Berlin officials. His idea, mentioned during a conversation, was followed by a letter from the Governing Mayor’s Office offering a panel to LMU. The arrangements were made, and in May 1997, the university dedicated its 2.5-ton section of the wall.
Verheyen, in a letter to then-President Thomas P. O’Malley, S.J., said, “I thought Loyola Marymount University, as an institution which is as dedicated to a discourse about values as it is interested in the analysis of facts, might be an appropriate place to display such a piece of the wall, as a reminder of all the dreadful and hopeful things of which humanity is capable.”
Posted Oct. 26, 2009