The Fall of the Berlin Wall – 9 November 1989

World leaders mark fall of Berlin Wall
(FT) World leaders on Monday called for a new spirit of co-operation in tackling the challenges of the 21st century, from climate change to poverty and economic turbulence, as they met in Berlin to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Twenty-nine heads of state and governments from Europe and Russia gathered in the German capital to remember the event of the uprisings in central and eastern Europe that would trigger the collapse of the Soviet bloc and end more than four decades of cold war.

Berlin marks 20th anniversary of wall’s fall
(MSNBC) ‘You made this possible,’ Merkel tells Gorbachev during anniversary event
Thousands of cheering Germans re-enacted the electrifying moment the Berlin Wall came crashing down — toppling 1,000 graffiti-adorned 8-foot-tall dominoes that tumbled along the route of the now vanished Cold War icon, celebrating 20 years of freedom from separation and fear.
The spectacle — billed by organizers as a metaphor for the way the real wall came down 20 years ago Monday and the resulting fall of communist countries in eastern Europe — was one of several events to mark the anniversary and celebrate the profound change it had not only Germany, but Europe and the world.
(FT In depth) After the Berlin Wall: Europe 20 years on
Germany observes 20th anniversary of fall of Berlin Wall
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who crossed the Berlin Wall when it fell 20 years ago, thanked former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and Polish pro-democracy leader Lech Walesa for their roles in the reunification of Berlin. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other world leaders assembled in Berlin to celebrate the anniversary — a point that still is a sore point among some Germans as living conditions between former East and West Berlin remain largely unequal. Memorials were planned to commemorate the people who were killed attempting to cross the Berlin Wall while it stood. The Washington Post (11/9) , The Independent (London) (11/9)

Photo MSNBC

In Germany, an ode to joy
Fall of Wall commemorated World leaders attend celebration in Berlin
(WaPo) For once, Germans celebrated a moment from their tumultuous past without a pang of guilt.
World leaders, aging Cold War luminaries and tens of thousands of spectators packed the center of Berlin on Monday to commemorate a singularly joyful chapter in Germany’s national history, the 20th anniversary of the collapse of the Berlin Wall.
On a rainy night, spotlights bathed the Brandenburg Gate in a spectrum of color to mark the anniversary of the night — Nov. 9, 1989 — when Berliners spontaneously reunited their divided city and sealed the end of the Cold War.

November 1989
(Economist archives) When the party’s over

A new period has begun in Europe. Our first report comes from Berlin—from our Bonn correspondent, who saw the Wall go up 28 years ago
Amid the euphoria, it was easy to miss the irony. The East German regime built the Wall to try to keep people in, and now it is knocking holes in it for much the same reason. In a desperate bid to get ahead of the game, the new leader, Mr Egon Krenz, has given his people a freedom many were grabbing anyway. Before the Wall became porous, more than 200,000 East Germans had already fled westward this year, first over Hungary’s “green border”, later by way of Czechoslovakia and Poland. Many of the emigrants were young and well-qualified. Their departure has left such huge gaps in the economy that even secret-service people are being drafted into industry and army recruits detailed to do medical work.

The Rift that Began in Tiananmen Square
(Foreign Policy) When Deng Xiaoping met with Mikhail Gorbachev in May 1989, neither communist leader could have predicted that the events simultaneously transpiring in Tiananmen Square would ricochet around the world — all the way to the Berlin Wall.
At the start of the year, the globe’s strategic map looked much like it had since the end of World War II. Communist leaders in China and the Soviet Union held power. Their American counterparts, skeptical of recent calls for change throughout the communist world, prepared for a reinvigorated Cold War of unknown duration and ferocity. Meanwhile, Europe prepared for another year divided along fault lines imposed by conquering armies nearly a half-century before.
A year later, communism would be dead in Eastern Europe and dying in the Soviet Union itself. China would be once more in the grip of hard-liners wary of reform, and once more on the precipice of isolation. Washington would be looking to capitalize on its Cold War victory. Europe would soon be rejoined. The future — our 21st-century present — would be at hand. And no one had seen it coming, least of all perhaps China, where the first of 1989’s cracks in communism would begin.
George Friedman: Twenty Years After the Fall
(Stratfor) We are now at the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the beginning of the collapse of the Soviet empire in Eastern Europe. We are also nearing the 18th anniversary of the fall of the Soviet Union itself. This is more than simply a moment for reflection — it is a moment to consider the current state of the region and of Russia versus that whose passing we are now commemorating. To do that, we must re-examine why the Soviet empire collapsed, and the current status of the same forces that caused that collapse.
After the Soviet collapse: A globe redrawn
Welcome to the new world disorder
Allen Abel: Berlin Wall 20 years on: A nation, free of its cage
(National Post) Twenty years ago this week, the people of one of the least happy countries on the planet were forced to build a new existence from the powder of a shattered barrier and the foam of a half-formed dream. They were farmers and workers, walled in since childhood, they could see no further than the grey cement certainties of Stalinism. Imagine, then, these automatic lives suddenly fractured in mid-sentence, and millions compelled to emigrate to a strange new country without leaving their homes.
Fall of the Berlin Wall: A Victory for Europe
Two decades after the collapse of the Iron Curtain, Europe and the world have gained enormously from democratic and economic integration
Berlin Wall: A dissident’s story
(BBC) Germany is marking the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall with major events planned for the 9th November.
Tom Sello, a dissident in communist East Berlin, recalls his role producing anti-GDR literature in an underground information centre.
Mary Dejevsky: Remember the Berlin Wall – and not only how it fell
(The Independent) For decades there will be those who live in fear of a knock at the door
This time next week Berlin will be suffering a hangover second only to the one that followed the collapse of the Wall 20 years ago. Even though a whole generation has now grown up across Europe with no first-hand memory of the dismembered city and the divided country that surrounded it, the scenes from 9 November, 1989, are lived and relived as the defining images of the end of the Cold War.
It is not just that this was one of the first events to be broadcast worldwide, in the earliest days of live 24-hour television, from anywhere – although it was. It was the sheer, undiluted ecstasy of the occasion. The Berlin Wall was demolished euphorically, spontaneously, almost by accident. A barrier that had taken years to build was torn down in hours with pick-axes brought from home, and bare hands. And the spell was broken that had kept 17 million Germans, and much of the eastern part of Europe, in thrall for almost half a century.
Roger Cohen: The hinge of history hangs on a heartbeat.
Harald Jaeger is a good reminder of that. I first met him in Berlin a decade ago. He’s the former officer in the East German border guards who, on the night of Nov. 9, 1989, opened the gate at Berlin’s Bornholmer Strasse, ending the Cold War. Video
A Wednesday Nighter comments on the story: “A West Berlin friend of mine learned of the wall coming down when he was having a late night drink at one of our favourite downtown pubs that evening and noticed an East Berlin taxi cab drive up to the door! A truly startling occurrence if you’d lived in this city your whole life.”
30 October
How it went down
: The little accident that toppled history
… the real story of the wall coming down is a lot less tidy than it may appear in the rear-view mirror. The “decision” to open the border was not a conscious choice at all. Instead of a reassuring victory for the forces of freedom, it was a chaotic and potentially violent mess. One of the most momentous events of the past century was, in fact, an accident, a semi-comical and bureaucratic mistake that owes as much to the Western media as to the tides of history.

Christoph Niemann: Over the Wall
Working with woven paper, the artist examines his own history with the Berlin Wall.
“From my 18-year-old perspective, the wall had always been there, and I had no reason to doubt that it would remain there forever. The news of the wall coming down was like somebody telling me that the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates had reversed course overnight, and that from now on you could stroll from Hamburg to Boston.”

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