It's a little piece of history right here in Mountain View.
Since 1989, at 11 feet high and 3 feet wide, two pieces of the Berlin Wall have been tucked away in the corner of the parking lot at 2685 Marine Way in the North Bayshore neighborhood. Starting Summer 2013 however, they will be out in the open for the public to see.
The extraordinary opportunity to accept these segments arose before the City Council on Tuesday, Sept. 18. The city approved the donation and will re-install the walls publicly in Mountain View—at a cost of $20,000 to $40,000—in a location recommended by the Visual Arts Committee (VAC). The VAC next meets on Wednesday, Oct. 10 at 6 p.m. in the atrium conference room in City Hall.
"Some people might wonder, 'why Mountain View?,'" said Councilman Jac Siegel. "Believe it or not, it's part of our history, with all of the defense work. That's what we worked for."
The Berlin Wall, whose construction began on Aug. 13 1961, divided Berlin into East and West. "The Iron Curtain" separated families and oppressed the East Berliners who would be killed if they tried to escape to the West. The wall came down on November 9, 1989 signaling the demise of the Soviet Union and its communist influence globally.
"The Berlin Wall is a unique piece that has two messages: oppression at first and now hope," said Manfred Fischer, a pastor who's church was blown up because it sat in the Wall strip. Rebuilt in 2000, the church now holds weekly memorial services for people killed attempting to flee across the wall. "It's a symbol that tells people to never give up."
One of the Mountain View segments has the words "wir liebe dich," which means "we love you," spraypainted on. The other has a drawing of Elvis with a swastika. Most of the 96 miles on the West Berlin side of the wall had graffiti, while no section of the East Berlin's side did.
"We still have 'walls' in the world," said Hannah Berger, the press spokeswoman for the Berlin Wall Memorial, standing on Bernauer Strasse in Berlin, where the wall ran through until 1990. "The Berlin Wall symbolizes democracy and freedom."
According to Robert Golzen, his father Frank Golzen flew to Germany after the fall of the wall to inquire about purchasing a segment. He chose one, and arranged for the segment to be shipped by container to Oakland. However, once back home, his dad found he had been sent two pieces.
"Our dad would be so happy," said Robert Golzen. "He wanted more people to see it."
--Rachel Stern contributed reporting from Berlin.
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