November 9, 2019, marked the 30th anniversary dismantling of the infamous Berlin Wall. This bastion of of division surrounded a portion of the city, separating an enclave of Western capitalism from surrounding communist East Germany.
Since then, parts of the wall have been sold or distributed across the world. These two graffiti-splashed slabs found their way to Singapore in October 2016, a gift from Germany to commemorate 50 years of bilateral diplomatic relations.
They now reside on a secluded hillock outside Tembusu College at the National University of Singapore. They can only be reached by a tiny walking path going up from the road, and there are no signs to point the way. For all the loaded history of the slabs, the spot is a lovely area for monastic quiet and contemplation.
At the back base of each slab can be found masses of small pebbles, which might have been placed there following the Japanese custom of leaving stones at graves or memorial sites, perhaps as a reminder of those who died trying to get over the wall to freedom.
The slabs do look a little forlorn, worn out by the grime of time, chipped in places, faded, possibly forgotten. But they remain sombre, quiet witnesses to freedom lost, gained, and always seemingly under threat.