Berlin Wall’s Fall Commemoration

TAMPA, Fla. (Sept. 11, 2009) – The fall of the Berlin Wall symbolized the end of an era that those born after the 1970s may understand only as an historical factoid. To bring its meaning to life for everyone in the Tampa Bay community, the University of South Florida is one of 29 colleges and universities in the United States hosting a special commemoration of this important event under the banner “Freedom Without Walls” – beginning with a film screening on Sept. 23. All the events are free and open to the public.


The wall separating East Berlin from West Berlin came down on Nov. 9, 1989, signaling the close of the Cold War and ushering in a new chapter in European history. Thousands of Berliners seized the opportunity to become part of this historic moment by hammering, chiseling and breaking apart the physical barrier between the two halves of Germany’s storied capital. A film series, a public speaking competition, a gala celebration, and a graffiti art competition involving a replica of the Berlin Wall will bring the message home for people of all ages.


“There are many ways to express what freedom means,” said Margit Grieb, associate professor in the Department of World Languages and team leader in organizing the events. “The competitions reinforce the significance of free expression and the films remind us about the impact this period in history had on Berliners, Germans and the world – as a reality and as a symbol. We hope people of all backgrounds will participate in this joyous tribute to freedom.”


The monthly Freedom Without Walls film screenings deal with the wall and the reunification process:

•  Sept. 23:  One. Two. Three  (1961, dir. Billy Wilder) – 3:45 p.m.; USF Tampa Library, Grace Allen Room - 4th Floor

•  Oct. 27:  The Wall (1991, dir. Jürgen Böttcher); 3:45 p.m.; USF Tampa Library, Grace Allen Room - 4th Floor

•  Nov. 9:  The Lives of Others (2006, dir. Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck); 6 p.m.; Marshall Student Center Oval Theater

(Contact Anthony LaPorte for more information:


The Freedom Without Walls Public Expression Competition invites everyone – USF students, employees, and area residents – to submit a short presentation (up to ten minutes or 1200 words) addressing the theme “Memories of the Fall of the Berlin Wall – As Remembered, Recounted, Collected or Imagined.”  Written speeches, poems, songs, dramatic performances or visual projects (videos, art) are all eligible and must be submitted by the Oct. 14, 5 p.m. deadline. Winners of the competition will receive cash prizes. The three best entries will be featured at the Oct. 21 gala celebration and competition winners must be able to attend this event. (Entries should be sent to Alexandra Calvo Jaschke - and Jasmine Siddiqi - who can also provide more details on how and where to drop off entries.)


Oct. 21, at 6 p.m. USF will host the Freedom without Walls Gala Celebration with complimentary refreshments at the USF Marshall Student Center. Noted German author Holger Teschke is the featured guest speaker. Contact Claudine Boniec for more information:


Finally, from Nov. 2 - 9, a replica of the Berlin Wall will be positioned outside of the Marshall Student Center and on display daily from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.  One and all are invited to spray-paint graffiti on the wall. The best graffiti artists will win prizes.  Contact Margeaux Chavez for more information:


All events are generously supported by the German Embassy in Washington DC, the USF College of Arts and Sciences, the USF Department of World Languages, the USF Humanities Institute and the USF German Culture Club.


The University of South Florida System is one of the nation's top 63 public research universities and one of 39 community-engaged, four-year public universities as designated by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. USF was awarded $380.4 million in research contracts and grants in FY 2008/2009. The system offers 232 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine. It has a $1.8 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 47,000 students on institutions/campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland. USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.