Press Releases

    SG/SM/8185
    5 April 2002

    SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES GIFT
    FROM GERMANY OF PIECE OF BERLIN WALL

    NEW YORK, 4 April (UN Headquarters) -- Following are the remarks of Secretary-General Kofi Annan upon presentation of a gift from Germany of a piece of the Berlin Wall, at Headquarters on 4 April:

    Thanks to the generosity of the Government and the people of Germany, today we welcome another extraordinary item to the United Nations collection.

    This is not a work of art in the traditional sense, but it has as much symbolic and emotive power as the finest painting or sculpture.

    The Berlin Wall was an offence to the human spirit. It not only marked the division of Germany and Europe, but also expressed, in a uniquely horrible way, the propensity of human beings to erect walls and borders, and then glare across them, hearts filled with hatred, minds full of fear and distrust, all the while numb to the notion that there might be a better way.

    It is entirely appropriate that a piece of the Berlin Wall will now be here at United Nations Headquarters. During the cold war, the Organization was often able to work around the tensions and ideological rivalry, and advance many parts of its agenda. But, just as often, it was severely hobbled, especially on the key questions of peace and security. The new freedom to find agreement, which came when the Wall was pulled down, has helped to liberate the entire international community.

    As we look at this piece of the wall, it is striking that something that loomed so big in our imagination turns out to be so thin. Perhaps that, too, holds a lesson for us: the lesson that divisions in the human community are not so insurmountable as we feared; that gaps of misunderstanding and material well-being can be bridged; and that we can, like the couple depicted here, join hands and unite for a better world.

    Thanks again to the Government and the people of Germany for this gift, and for the commitment to the United Nations that it represents. And I want to thank you personally for coming all the way to unveil it with us. Thank you.

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