Walls

Walls have been built all over the world to prevent people from migrating across borders. You may think of Trump's wall between the US and Mexico. But what about the Berlin wall or the Separation Wall in Israel? How have people commented on walls and their effectiveness over time through different types of texts? This lesson gives you multiple perspectives on this global issue. 

  1. Divid your class into 10 groups. Assign each group one of the texts below (Texts 1-10). Find out as much as you can about your text during a 10-minutes of (preliminary) research. Who created it? When was it created? Where was it created? How was it received? Why was it created? Try to find answers to such questions. 


  2.          

     

    Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
    That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
    And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
    And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
    The work of hunters is another thing:
    I have come after them and made repair
    Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
    But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
    To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
    No one has seen them made or heard them made,
    But at spring mending-time we find them there.
    I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
    And on a day we meet to walk the line
    And set the wall between us once again.
    We keep the wall between us as we go.
    To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
    And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
    We have to use a spell to make them balance:
    ‘Stay where you are until our backs are turned!’
    We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
    Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
    One on a side. It comes to little more:
    There where it is we do not need the wall:
    He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
    My apple trees will never get across
    And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
    He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’
    Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
    If I could put a notion in his head:
    ‘Why do they make good neighbors? Isn't it
    Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
    Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
    What I was walling in or walling out,
    And to whom I was like to give offense.
    Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
    That wants it down.’ I could say ‘Elves’ to him,
    But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather
    He said it for himself. I see him there
    Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
    In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
    He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
    Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
    He will not go behind his father's saying,
    And he likes having thought of it so well
    He says again, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’
             

    We come to Berlin, we American presidents, because it's our duty to speak, in this place, of freedom. But I must confess, we're drawn here by other things as well: by the feeling of history in this city, more than 500 years older than our own nation; by the beauty of the Grunewald and the Tiergarten; most of all, by your courage and determination. Perhaps the composer Paul Lincke understood something about American presidents. You see, like so many presidents before me, I come here today because wherever I go, whatever I do: Ich hab noch einen Koffer in Berlin. [I still have a suitcase in Berlin.] 

    Our gathering today is being broadcast throughout Western Europe and North America. I understand that it is being seen and heard as well in the East. To those listening throughout Eastern Europe, a special word: Although I cannot be with you, I address my remarks to you just as surely as to those standing here before me. For I join you, as I join your fellow countrymen in the West, in this firm, this unalterable belief: Es gibt nur ein Berlin. [There is only one Berlin.] 

    Behind me stands a wall that encircles the free sectors of this city, part of a vast system of barriers that divides the entire continent of Europe. From the Baltic, south, those barriers cut across Germany in a gash of barbed wire, concrete, dog runs, and guard towers. Farther south, there may be no visible, no obvious wall. But there remain armed guards and checkpoints all the same--still a restriction on the right to travel, still an instrument to impose upon ordinary men and women the will of a totalitarian state. Yet it is here in Berlin where the wall emerges most clearly; here, cutting across your city, where the news photo and the television screen have imprinted this brutal division of a continent upon the mind of the world. Standing before the Brandenburg Gate, every man is a German, separated from his fellow men. Every man is a Berliner, forced to look upon a scar. 

    President von Weizsacker has said, "The German question is open as long as the Brandenburg Gate is closed." Today I say: As long as the gate is closed, as long as this scar of a wall is permitted to stand, it is not the German question alone that remains open, but the question of freedom for all mankind. Yet I do not come here to lament. For I find in Berlin a message of hope, even in the shadow of this wall, a message of triumph. 

    In this season of spring in 1945, the people of Berlin emerged from their air-raid shelters to find devastation. Thousands of miles away, the people of the United States reached out to help. And in 1947 Secretary of State--as you've been told--George Marshall announced the creation of what would become known as the Marshall Plan. Speaking precisely 40 years ago this month, he said: "Our policy is directed not against any country or doctrine, but against hunger, poverty, desperation, and chaos." 

    In the Reichstag a few moments ago, I saw a display commemorating this 40th anniversary of the Marshall Plan. I was struck by the sign on a burnt-out, gutted structure that was being rebuilt. I understand that Berliners of my own generation can remember seeing signs like it dotted throughout the western sectors of the city. The sign read simply: "The Marshall Plan is helping here to strengthen the free world." A strong, free world in the West, that dream became real. Japan rose from ruin to become an economic giant. Italy, France, Belgium--virtually every nation in Western Europe saw political and economic rebirth; the European Community was founded. 

    In West Germany and here in Berlin, there took place an economic miracle, the Wirtschaftswunder. Adenauer, Erhard, Reuter, and other leaders understood the practical importance of liberty--that just as truth can flourish only when the journalist is given freedom of speech, so prosperity can come about only when the farmer and businessman enjoy economic freedom. The German leaders reduced tariffs, expanded free trade, lowered taxes. From 1950 to 1960 alone, the standard of living in West Germany and Berlin doubled. 

    Where four decades ago there was rubble, today in West Berlin there is the greatest industrial output of any city in Germany--busy office blocks, fine homes and apartments, proud avenues, and the spreading lawns of parkland. Where a city's culture seemed to have been destroyed, today there are two great universities, orchestras and an opera, countless theaters, and museums. Where there was want, today there's abundance--food, clothing, automobiles--the wonderful goods of the Ku'damm. From devastation, from utter ruin, you Berliners have, in freedom, rebuilt a city that once again ranks as one of the greatest on earth. The Soviets may have had other plans. But my friends, there were a few things the Soviets didn't count on--Berliner Herz, Berliner Humor, ja, und Berliner Schnauze. [Berliner heart, Berliner humor, yes, and a Berliner Schnauze.]

    In the 1950s, Khrushchev predicted: "We will bury you." But in the West today, we see a free world that has achieved a level of prosperity and well-being unprecedented in all human history. In the Communist world, we see failure, technological backwardness, declining standards of health, even want of the most basic kind--too little food. Even today, the Soviet Union still cannot feed itself. After these four decades, then, there stands before the entire world one great and inescapable conclusion: Freedom leads to prosperity. Freedom replaces the ancient hatreds among the nations with comity and peace. Freedom is the victor.

    And now the Soviets themselves may, in a limited way, be coming to understand the importance of freedom. We hear much from Moscow about a new policy of reform and openness. Some political prisoners have been released. Certain foreign news broadcasts are no longer being jammed. Some economic enterprises have been permitted to operate with greater freedom from state control.

    Are these the beginnings of profound changes in the Soviet state? Or are they token gestures, intended to raise false hopes in the West, or to strengthen the Soviet system without changing it? We welcome change and openness; for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace. There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. 

    General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall! [...]

    It's cold on the wall. That's the first thing everybody tells you, and the first thing you notice when you're sent there, and it's the think you think about all the tie you're on it, and it's the think you remember when you're not there anymore. It's cold on the Wall. 

    You look for metaphors. It's cold as slate, as diamond, as the moon. Cold as charity - that's a good one. But you soon realise that the thing about the cold is that it isn't a metaphor. It isn't like anything else. It's nothing but a physical fact. This kind of cold, anyway. Cold is cold is cold. 

    That's the first thing that hits you. It isn't like other cold. This is a cold that is all about the place, like a permanent physical attribute of the location. The cold is one of its fundamental properties; it's intrinsic. So it hits you as a package, the first time you go to the Wall, on the first day of your tour. You know that you are there for two years. You know that it's basically the same everywhere, as far as the geography goes, but that everything depends on what the people you will be serving with are like. You know that there's nothing you can do about that. i is frightening but also in its way a little bit freeing. No choice - everything about the Wall means you have no choice. 

    You get a little training but not much. Six weeks. Mainly it's about how to hold, clean, look after and fire your weapon. I that order. Some fitness training, but not much; a lot of training, but not much; a lot of training in midnight awakening, sleep disruption, sudden panics, sudden changes of order, small-hours tests of discipline. They drum that into you: discipline trumps courage. In a fight, the people who win are the ones who do what they're told. That's pretty much it. The rest of the training happens on the Wall. You get it from the Defenders who've been there longer than you. Then in your turn you give it to the Defenders who come after. So that's what you arrive able to do: get up in the middle of the night, and look after your weapon. 

    You usually arrive after dark. I don't know why but that's just how they do it. Already you've had a long day to get there: walk, but, train, second train, truck. The truck drops you off. You and your rucksack are left standing there in the cold and the blackness. There is the Wall in front of you, a long low concrete monster. It stretches into the distance. Although the Wall is completely vertical, when you stand underneath it, it feels as if it overhangs. As if it could topple over onto you. You feel leaned on. 


     

  3. If you were to present your text in a Museum of Texts, what kind of caption would you write to go beside your text, to enlighten visitors of your museum on the background of your text? Write a caption (50-100 words) to go with your text. Your caption should be informed by your research from the first activity. Share your caption with your classmates. 

  4. Imagine all of these texts were to appear in your Museum of Texts as a special exhibition on walls. In groups of 3-4 students write an introduction to your exhibition of 300-400 words. Think of a better title for your exhibition than just 'walls'. In your group's introduction, relate the texts to one or more of the 7 concepts from this course: transformation, representation, identity, perspective, culture, communication and creativity. Use this portfolio activity as a model for your group's introduction. Share your group's introduction with your classmates.

  5. Is 'walls' a global issue? What kinds of global issues are related to the topic of migration and immigration. As a class make a list of related issues. Individually, try to find 10 different texts about this issue, which are diverse in text type but unified thematically. Create a gallery of texts, with captions and an introduction. If possible, ask your teacher for a place in your school where you can display these texts, their captions and your introduction. Document you engagement with these texts in your learner portfolio.
Assessment

The 'Museum of Texts' idea is good preparation for an individual oral. As you collect various non-literary texts, make sure that they come from a 'body of work'. A 'body of work' means there are multiple texts of the same type by the same author. The 'Make Love Not War' campaign by Diesel, for example, consists of many print ads and video commercials and is therefore appropriate. If you stumble upon a literary work on your global issue that you like, such as 'The Wall' by John Lanchester, ask your teacher if you can use it as a 'freely chosen' literary work for your individual oral.

Last modified: Tuesday, 25 February 2020, 10:37 AM