Skidmore College students build, tear down Berlin Wall replica

Mark Mulholland
Updated: November 08, 2019 06:30 PM
Created: November 07, 2019 05:42 PM

SARATOGA SPRINGS - It divided a city, a country, and ideologies.

The Berlin Wall, a symbol of Soviet oppression for 28 years came down in November 1989, not long after President Reagan's famous speech, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall."


On November 9, 1989, Skidmore College visiting professor Petra Watzke was 6 years-old, living near Nuremberg, with family on the other side of the wall in East Germany.

"It was a very joyous occasion when the wall fell, and we realized we could finally have a closer relationship with our relatives in East Germany. And the night the wall came down, I just remember how happy everybody was."

Watzke teaches a class about the Berlin Wall and instead of just having her students read and talk about it, they built one. Partnering with the theater department, they built a 28-foot replica in the middle of a main walkway, complete with the artwork and graffiti seen on the original wall.

"I think they also got an impression to the division that walls create," said Watzke.

Students like freshman Merryn Forbes have seen firsthand the impact even a small wall can have.

"Walls don't solve problems, they only create them and the point was to put it in a place where a lot of people would be walking and it would be very inconvenient to show this situation and issue."

Forbes is from Southern California and says studying walls has given her perspective on the issue of whether to build a barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border.

"It's never made anything better. So I don't understand why people keep wanting to do it," said Forbes.

Students will tear down the wall during a ceremony Saturday morning at 9 o'clock.

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