Celebrating the Arrival of Berlin Wall Segment and Our Transatlantic Friendship

On October 7, the U.S. Diplomacy Center celebrated the arrival of our largest artifact, the Signature Segment of the Berlin Wall. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry hosted a ceremony with the President of the Federal Republic of Germany, Joachim Gauck, to commemorate its arrival. The event also celebrated the strong, enduring transatlantic relationship between the United States and Germany.

This historic artifact was signed by 27 individuals who played key roles in bringing about an end to the Cold War and the re-unification of Germany, including former U.S. President George H.W. Bush; German President Gauck; former leader of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev; former activist, Nobel Peace Prize winner and President of Poland Lech Walesa; German Chancellor Angela Merkel; former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl; and former U.S. Secretary of State James A. Baker III. 

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry delivers remarks at an event to commemorate the arrival of a segment of the Berlin Wall that will be displayed in the U.S. Diplomacy Center, at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on October 7, 2015 [State Department photo].

I cannot think of a better place to display an object like the Signature Segment than the U.S. Diplomacy Center, a museum and education center dedicated to the art and practice of American diplomacy. Exhibited here, it will serve as a symbolic reminder to every visitor of the important role that diplomatic engagement played in bringing about the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall. 

On August 13, 2015, I had the privilege of watching as this segment was lowered into the construction site for the U.S. Diplomacy Center. As the wall arrived, the excitement in the air was palpable. The arrival of the wall at the U.S. Diplomacy Center would not have been possible without the foresight of and generous collaboration by the Atlantic Council and its corporate member, Verbundnetz Gas AG. During a brief ceremony, Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick F. Kennedy, Chargè d’Affaires of the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany Phillip Ackermann, and Executive Vice President of the Atlantic Council Paige Ennis, each noted the importance of the transatlantic relationship and the symbolism of this unique segment of the Berlin Wall.

The Signature Segment of Berlin Wall was hoisted above the State Department's U.S. Diplomacy Center construction site before being placed on its lower level on August 13, 2015 [State Department Photo].

For nearly three decades, the Berlin Wall was the physical embodiment of the division between East and West. It stood as a constant reminder of the barriers freedom-loving peoples faced during the dark days of the Cold War. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany were the result of decades of diplomatic engagement -- and the courage of the German people. Now the signatures on this segment of the wall will inspire visitors to the Diplomacy Center to learn more about these diplomatic efforts and the courage of individuals seeking freedom from oppression for years to come.

About the author: Kathy Johnson is the Director of the U.S. Diplomacy Center.

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Posted by Kathy Johnson
October 13, 2015

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