Former University President Leo J. O’Donovan commemorated [the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall](https://www.thehoya.com/videos/georgetown-students-embrace-freedom-without-walls/) with a speech in Riggs Library last night.
At [the event sponsored by the BMW Center for German and European Studies](https://events.georgetown.edu/events/index.cfm?Action=View&CalendarID=87&EventID=71350&Home), a small fragment of the Berlin Wall sat on the podium as O’Donovan spoke about his friend Helmut Kohl, chancellor of West Germany – and subsequently unified Germany – from 1982 to 1998.
O’Donovan spoke about Kohl’s impact on German and European politics and the significance of the fallen wall.
“European unification and German unity are two sides of the same coin. . Indeed, if this global community is to prosper in our new century, we must all have a piece of the Berlin Wall,” O’Donovan said.
“Whoever works for peace in our endangered world holds a shard of the Berlin Wall. All those longing for justice and equality among communities and nations stand before one of the breaches of the wall,” O’Donovan said. “Wherever sacrifices are made for reconciliation and mutual understanding, the wall comes down once more. Whoever stands in solidarity with the underprivileged and marginalized stands proudly where once the wall stood ominously.”
argaret Cekuta (SFS ’12), who lived in Germany for four years, said she is optimistic that Germany is moving toward a brighter future.
“I see a definite reunification of Berlin, and the idea of a wall in someone’s head is definitely of the older generation, and is not one that is felt within the younger generation,” Cekuta said. “It’s the younger generation who’s going to carry the unity of both Germanys into the future to create a brighter Germany.”
At the end of his speech, O’Donovan donated a Bible given to him by Kohl to Lauinger Library’s Rare Book Collection
O’Donovan said the Bible was given to him on Nov. 10, 2007, the 18th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
The message of the Berlin Wall is one that transcends history, O’Donovan said.
“No one hero, no single speech, no pure democracy, no wise collaboration from world leaders alone brought down the wall,” O’Donovan said. “The meaning and causes of its fall will be restudied, re-interpreted, rewritten for as long as humanity recognizes that history is its best teacher.”
O’Donovan preceded John J. DeGioia as the 47th president of the university. He retired in 2001.”