Edwina Sandys, Sir Winston Churchill’s granddaughter, will give a free public presentation on the Westminster College campus about the fall of the Berlin Wall on the actual anniversary of that event November 9.
Sandys, creator of the Berlin Wall structure, “Breakthrough,” which is located on the Westminster College campus, will speak at 1:30 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 9, in the Lecture Hall of the Coulter Science Center.
A question and answer period with the opportunity for members of the media to ask questions will be held at the end of the presentation.
She will discuss the fall of the Wall itself, her sculpture “Breakthrough,” and her grandfather, Sir Winston Churchill.
A reception will be held in the Atrium of the Coulter Science Center immediately following the presentation.
During her visit, Sandys will also visit with groups of students and take a tour of the National Churchill Museum.
For the past 30 years, Edwina Sandys has created art of international acclaim that includes sculpture, paintings, collage and works on paper. Early in her career, for the 1979 United Nations Year of the Child, she created three monumental sculptures, which are now installed at UN Centers in New York, Geneva and Vienna. A decade later, she persuaded the German government to donate dismantled sections of the Berlin Wall to create the extraordinary sculpture “Breakthrough.”
Thanks to Sandy’s work, Westminster possesses the largest contiguous section of the actual Berlin Wall in the United States. She sculpted eight sections of the Wall into “Breakthrough” and had them placed on the Westminster campus next to the National Churchill Museum, a state-of-the-art, interactive exhibit commemorating the life and achievements of Churchill. Westminster College was the site of Churchill’s historic “Iron Curtain” speech in 1946.
The Berlin Wall was erected in the dead of night and for 28 years kept East Germans from fleeing to the West. It stretched over a hundred miles and not only ran through the center of Berlin, but also wrapped around West Berlin, entirely cutting West Berlin off from the rest of East Germany. During the history of the Berlin Wall, it is estimated that about 5,000 people made it safely to the West. Estimates also show between 100-200 East German people were killed trying to flee to the West.
As Communism began to falter in Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia in 1988 and 1989, new exodus points were opened to East Germans who wanted to flee to the West. Then suddenly, on the evening of November 9, 1989, a surprise announcement was made by the East German government declaring all border checkpoints open.
Very quickly, the Berlin Wall was inundated with people from both sides. Some began chipping at the Berlin Wall with hammers and chisels. There was an impromptu huge celebration along the Berlin Wall, with people hugging, kissing, singing, cheering, and crying.
The Berlin Wall was eventually chipped away, into smaller pieces (some the size of a coin and others in big slabs). The pieces have become collectibles and are stored in both homes and museums.
After the Berlin Wall came down, East and West Germany reunified into a single German state on October 3, 1990.