Edwina Sandys, an artist, sculptor, and granddaughter of Sir Winston Churchill, returns to the National Churchill Museum and Westminster College in Fulton, MO, Sunday, Nov. 9, to honor the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. She will be speaking at the Coulter Science Center Lecture Hall on the college campus. The event is free and open to the public with a reception following.
The Berlin Wall was built by the German Democratic Republic (GDR), also known as East Germany, to separate East and West Berlin. This symbol of the Cold War stood for 28 years, from Aug. 13, 1961 to Nov. 9, 1989. Sandys and her husband went to Berlin during February 1990 to meet with officials for securing large sections of the wall. Their plans faced a temporary obstacle upon discovering that 4-foot sections were costing up to $200,000. The cost was waived when officials learned Sandys was planning to create a monument close to where Churchill had given his “Iron Curtain” speech in 1946. They allowed her to choose eight sections as a gift to Westminster College.
The chosen selections were close to the Brandenburg Gate. This area was particularly appealing to Sandys because it had a lot of graffiti in dramatic colors of bright red, white and yellow. “Unwahr,” the German word for untruths or lies, was written repeatedly in red.
Sandys’ sculpture, Breakthrough, was dedicated Nov. 9, 1990, at the Winston Churchill Memorial and Library on the campus of Westminster College in Fulton. Joining the 7,000 people in attendance were Senator John Ashcroft, former President Ronald Reagan, and Fritjof von Nordenskjoeld, the German minister plenipotentiary. The sculpture is 11-feet high by 32-feet long with periodic separations large enough for a person to step through. The significance of the separations represents the tearing down of the wall and throwing open the doors of freedom in Eastern Europe.
When Edwina Sandys returns to the Churchill Museum to honor the fall of the Berlin Wall, she also returns to the place where her grandfather gave his speech, The Sinews of Peace, best known as the Iron Curtain speech. Churchill was invited to Westminster College as a guest lecturer by the John Findley Green Foundation, established in the 1930s to honor the St. Louis attorney who had graduated from the college in 1884. The foundation held Green Lectures which stipulated that the speaker should have an “international reputation.” The speech should focus on understanding economic and social issues that are of concern on an international level. Churchill was the seventh Green Lecturer and was also going to be given an honorary degree.
The invitation had a handwritten note at the bottom from President Harry S. Truman. “This is a wonderful school in my home state. Hope you can do it. I will introduce you.” Churchill accepted the invitation and gave his speech in the school’s Gymnasium, Mar. 5, 1946.
In addition to Sandys’ sculpture and the Gymnasium, the National Churchill Museum includes the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury. This church was founded around 1200, north of the Thames, in what is now London. It was caught up in the Great Fire of London that started Sept. 2, 1666, and left in ruins. The church was rebuilt in the English Baroque style, guided by architect, Christopher Wren. It was ruined again during the 1941 London bombing of World War II. Many of the war-damaged Wren churches were scheduled for demolition. In 1961, Patrick Horsborough, a British architect, suggested the Church of St. Mary the Virgin be moved to the Westminster College campus as both the campus chapel and as part of the planned Churchill Memorial.
Horsborough worked with the president of the college, Dr. Robert L.D. Davidson, to get the necessary permissions from England and the U.S. to move 7,000 stones. It took four years to secure the paperwork and raise the $2 million required funding to start the process. The move began in 1965. Workmen labeled every one of the stones, noting where they were located in the church. After the foundation stone was put in place, October 1966, the rest of the exterior reconstruction was finished in May 1967. The interior was finished two years late with pre-war photographs used as a guide.
The link between Sir Winston Churchill and the small city of Fulton, MO, is a significant one. As a result of Churchill’s visit, other world leaders have come: Margaret Thatcher, Mikhail Gorbachev, several U.S. presidents and NATO representatives. Churchill’s granddaughter, Edwina Sandys, is also returning to the National Churchill Museum to honor the fall of the Berlin Wall.
By Cynthia Collins
Photo of Harry Truman and Winston Churchill fromin Independence, MO