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‘Death’ of Berlin Wall Celebrated at Site of ‘Iron Curtain’ Speech

November 16, 1989

FULTON, Mo. (AP) _ Worshippers celebrated the ″death″ of the Berlin Wall during services at Westminster College, where Winston Churchill gave his famous warning of an Iron Curtain descending across Europe more than four decades ago.

″If Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill were among us this day, he would be smiling,″ said the Rev. William Young, chaplain at the college, ″because this is the dawn of a new era, one which he longed to see and which his wise leadership helped to create.″

Wednesday evening’s service was promoted as a worship of thanks for new freedom in East Germany, where easing of travel restrictions in the last week allowed thousands to go West for the first time since 1961.

″We are here to celebrate the death of an inanimate object - a wall - yet that wall has come to symbolize all that has kept us apart,″ said Jack Rogers, executive director of Ecumenical Ministries of Callaway County.

In a March 5, 1946, lecture at Westminster, Churchill - out of government but introduced as an honored visitor by President Truman - chillingly predicted the separation of Europe.

″From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an iron curtain has descended across the Continent,″ Churchill said. ″Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe.″

Churchill, who died in 1965, never claimed authorship of the phrase, which he had used before in writing. But the speech was indelibly etched in history books.

Young noted that Churchill also urged in his speech that England and the United States work together in building a ″Temple of Peace.″

″In an age known as the Cold War, peace has seemed precarious; the Iron Curtain has remained firm,″ Young said.

″However, in just the past few years, the past few months, the past few weeks, even in the past few days, the winds of change have been blowing so strongly across the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe that his dream now seems not only possible but likely. The Iron Curtain is being lifted. Dare we hope that a firm foundation for Sir Winston’s ‘Temple of Peace’ has finally been laid?″

The service was filmed by the British Broadcasting Corp. for a documentary about Churchill that will air in the United States in 1991, said executive producer Jeremy Bennett.

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