Professor collects Berlin Wall memories 25 years later

Tue Oct 14, 2014 10:37am EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Emma Anderson

BERLIN (Reuters) - Art professor Sheryl Oring sits at a desk outside the Berlin Wall Memorial, clacking away at a typewriter like a secretary, with thick-rimmed glasses perched on the end of her nose.

A man stands before her giving a testimony that will form part of an art project aimed at getting a sense of how people today feel about one of the most pivotal moments in modern German and world history.

"When I stand here, I am affected very emotionally," says Hans Kitta, who left East Germany shortly before the wall, the most potent symbol of the Cold War, was built in 1961. The barrier divided the West German part of the city from the Communist East until 1989.

Kitta recounts his journey as a young man from an area of Poland that was part of Germany before World War Two, to the German city of Leipzig, then to East Berlin from where, one night, he sneaked into West Berlin.

"I was allowed to leave Berlin after four weeks to take a plane to Hanover. I am eternally grateful to West Berlin."

Oring has been typing up similar stories since September when she set up her "Maueramt", or Wall Department, collecting the memories and impressions of people as they pass the remnants of the wall that fell almost 25 years ago.

An assistant art professor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Oring started the project to understand how people feel now.

"The Berlin Wall is interesting because it's history, but it's also contemporary," she told Reuters. "It's sort of unimaginable that one country that used to be together is now divided ... For us to try to understand that is very important."   Continued...

Art professor Sheryl Oring writes a testemony by Danish tourist Angela Larsen on her typewriter at a desk outside the Berlin Wall Memorial at Bernauer Strasse in Berlin October 13, 2014. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch