-1889 years ago today, it seemed like a relatively normal day in Germany. But then, in the evening, something happened that most people had thought unimaginable: the wall came down that had divided Germany into two countries for 28 years.
In the autumn of 1989, there were peaceful demonstrations all over the GDR. This is a "Monday demonstration" in Leipzig in October 1989.
© picture-alliance / ZB
In East Germany (the German Democratic Republic
or GDR), this event was preceded by political unrest. The party
and state leader, Erich Honecker, had been ousted; Egon Krenz had become his successor. Thousands of East German citizens had left their country, and people in East Germany had called for freedom at huge demonstrations. The Soviet Union had introduced reforms and made it clear that East Germany would have to change a few things as well.
Under pressure from their citizens, those in power in East Germany wanted to make some concessions. They decided to introduce new travel regulations. Now, East German citizens were also to be able to leave their country without problems. On the evening of November 9, Günter Schabowski, secretary of the SED (the governing party) in the East Berlin district, announced at a press conference that every GDR citizen now had the opportunity to travel out of the country. This piece of news was actually only meant to be announced on November 10. But now, East German television had broadcast it -
and the news went around the world: "The Wall is open." That was the beginning of the end of the GDR.
© Stefan Eling
The first East Berlin residents immediately set off -
they wanted to go to West Berlin. At first, the Wall guards put them off, as they didnít have any instructions to let citizens of their country through. But as the crowds of people grew bigger, the GDR leaders decided to open the border crossings. Shortly after midnight, all the other borders to West Germany were also opened. The path to German reunification