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06 November 2009 

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Berlin Wall Stands Tall...In South Carolina

06 November 2009

Alois Krussig is reminded every day what it was like to live in a divided Germany. One of the few remaining portions of the Berlin wall sits outside his office in Spartanburg, South Carolina

"We treat this as a memorial," said Krussig, who parks his car everyday near two large segments of the wall anchored to a concrete slab near the Menzel Corp. manufacturing facility.
The Berlin Wall In South Carolina
The Berlin Wall In South Carolina

Spartanburg, South Carolina - with a population of 40,000 - is located in the southeastern United States.

It is home to American subsidiaries of many European companies, including automaker BMW and tire make Michelin and the Menzel facility where Krussig is technical director.

He and the hundreds of native German speakers in the region are marking the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall with commemorative ceremonies.

Saving History

When construction crews began tearing down the Berlin Wall, company founder Josef Menzel asked a friend in East Germany to save two concrete segments and have them delivered to the United States.

"It's a part of history and we don't want to forget," recounts Krussig, a close friend of the company's founder.
Kennedy Plaque On Berlin Wall In South Carolina
Kennedy Plaque On Berlin Wall In South Carolina

Week long commemorative events were planned and schools will focus on why the wall was built and what it meant. 

Early Memories

As a 13-year-old, who lived less than 15 kilometers from the wall in West Germany, Krussig and his school buddies would often fish in a river just outside Berlin. They would wave to East German border guards and tease those who lived on the other side of the wall under the repressive communist government. 

Reliving The Past

On 9 November 1989, Krussig was on a business trip in Germany when he heard the news that the borders between East and West were opening. He went to his boyhood home-town and then to area where he and his friends used to fish to watch in amazement as the Wall was taken down.

"I'm glad we saved these segments. We just couldn't grind them up and forget about it," said Krussig.

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