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The Berlin Wall was first constructed in 1961 as part of the Cold War division of West and East Germany. It became a symbol of the fear and hatred associated with the artificial separation of communities between political systems, and of hope for change and the power of the human spirit. The latter was celebrated in songs by artistes as varied as David Bowie, Tom Robinson and Barclay James Harvest. In November 1989, following a period of protests and a growing recognition of the failure of the Soviet and related systems, passage through the Wall was permitted officially, and the edifice demolished between June 1990 and November 1991. However, souvenir hunters began removing pieces straightaway. German Reunification occurred in October 1990.
It seems to be part of human nature to want to retain some physical object as a connection with a special place or event, even if that is something bad. This fragment of the Wall was collected by an American visitor in Spring 1990, one of several he brought for friends in his then home in Örebro, Sweden. One of those recipients was the Ickeny Collection's Curator, Chris Wood, in the same Swedish-language class.
This piece of concrete was part of the hated Wall but became a token of hope for the triumph of humanity over despotism, and a sign that change is possible, being direct, tangible evidence of such change. Pieces of the Wall were spread around the world, each carrying the magic of hope.