How did the Berlin Wall End Up at Capital University?

Phil Heston
A piece of the Berlin Wall on Capital University's Bexley campus

On the west end of Capital University’s Bexley campus, a massive, graffitied, L-shaped block stands in stark contrast to the lush trees and grass of the courtyard it calls home. It’s a strange sight, like a giant tombstone alone in a park.

Instead, it is an artifact from the not-so-distant past. The reinforced concrete slab was once part of the Berlin Wall, which fell 30 years ago, on Nov. 9, 1989, marking the end of the Cold War. “The Berlin Wall was a major symbol of the failure of the totalitarian communist state to win the hearts and minds of its own citizens,” says Andrew Carlson, an American history professor at Capital, via email.

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So how did this historical symbol, standing nearly 12 feet tall, end up in a secluded spot at a Midwestern university? In 1992, German company Hansa Consulting brought the wall segment to an exhibit it sponsored at the AmeriFlora horticultural expo to increase interest in the reunified country’s industry, according to a Capital brochure about the wall. After AmeriFlora ended, Hansa, Capital and Huntington Bank partnered on a long-term loan so the segment could be exhibited at the university.

While it was previously featured at the Blackmore Library, the weight of the wall segment—2.8 tons—proved too much for the floor where it was displayed, even after being reinforced, according to Capital spokesperson Nichole Johnson. It was moved to its current location in the courtyard on the south side of Huber-Spielman Hall, a public space just east of the intersection of Mound Street and College Avenue.

Capital held an event for the 20th anniversary of the Berlin Wall’s demise in 2009, and some faculty members are thinking of holding another to commemorate the 30th. Carlson hopes they do, saying everyone can learn from the historical event.


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