- Associated Press - Sunday, October 19, 2014

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (AP) - The two large pieces of the Berlin Wall in front of Spartanburg manufacturing company Menzel stand as reminders of both oppression and freedom, the company’s owner says.

Hans Menzel said he’s seen school buses of children stop out front or residents walk up to view or touch the concrete slabs, more than 12 feet tall and marked with green and blue graffiti. With the assistance of a partner company in Germany, Menzel had the pieces sent to his Spartanburg plant in 1991, in a shipment of machinery. The plant is located off Business 85.

The slabs were set up on the front lawn of Menzel, which has the distinction of being the oldest foreign manufacturing company in South Carolina. Menzel added two flag poles, for the German and United States flags that flutter above, and two plaques containing quotes by John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan.

“People should not forget how bad communism was for the people who had to live under that regime,” Menzel said. “East Germans could not get a passport. They could not leave.”

The monument at Menzel is also a thank-you to America.

“In the 1960s, John F. Kennedy helped Berlin survive by flying food to West Germany,” Menzel said. “Kennedy and Reagan had more to do with bringing the wall down than any other politicians.”

The German-American Club of the Carolinas, based in the Upstate, recently hosted a reception at Menzel, in recognition of the 25th anniversary of the Berlin Wall being torn down on Nov. 9. Those attending enjoyed two traditional German foods - bratwurst and beer.

The reception followed a panel discussion at the University of South Carolina Upstate’s George Dean Johnson Jr. College of Business and Economics. The discussion on the wall’s history and Germany after the fall of the wall was led by Christoph Sander, German Consul General in Atlanta, Wolf Stromberg, German Honorary Consul for South Carolina, Dirk Schlingmann, dean of USC Upstate’s College of Arts and Sciences and Rob McCormick, chair of the university’s history, political sciences, philosophy and American studies.

“We had a full house,” Schlingmann said. “We had to bring in extra chairs and cut it off at the end.”

Schlingmann and his wife, Catherine, were living in Michigan and Schlingmann was teaching at the University of Michigan when the wall came down. They said they were overjoyed and in disbelief when they heard the news in 1989.

“We should thank our American friends,” Schlingmann said. “Without the Americans, Germany would not be unified. There should be no wall anywhere. North Korea and South Korea should learn that, hopefully, in the future.”

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Information from: Herald-Journal, https://www.goupstate.com/


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