30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, I’m enjoying all the snippets and stories and music about that historic day.
It was a Mistake
My top story about the Fall of the Berlin Wall is about the mistake that happened at a routine press conference on 9 November 1989.
Beginning at 18:00 CET it was broadcast live on East German television and radio East German. East Berlin party boss and spokesperson Günter Schabowski was handed an announcement about relaxed travel regulations.
Schabowski had not been involved in the discussions about the new regulations and had not been fully updated. These regulations, which had only been completed a few hours earlier, were to take effect the following day, to allow time to inform the border guards. But this starting time delay was not communicated to Schabowski.
In his lack of preparation, he mistakenly insinuated that the checkpoints in the Berlin Wall — which up until then were guarded by soldiers with orders to shoot anyone trying to cross — were now open.
They weren’t, but that announcement was all East Berliners needed to storm the wall and demand they be allowed to cross into West Berlin. They walked through checkpoints and used hammers and other hand tools to break down the wall.
After the press conference, Schabowski sat for an interview with NBC reporter Tom Brokaw. He repeated that East Germans would be able to emigrate through the border and the regulations would go into effect immediately
After that, the wall became obsolete, and soon fell.
An end to the Cold War was declared at the Malta Summit three weeks later, and the reunification of Germany took place during the following year.
Reagan asks Gorbachev to Tear down this Wall
One of Ronald Reagan’s most memorable moments was him imploring Russia’s President Gorbachev to “tear down this Wall”
CNN put together a lovely In pictures: The rise and fall of the Berlin Wall
Music and the Fall of the Wall
Remember David Hasselhoff singing Looking for Freedom at the Brandenburg Gate?
On 21 November 1989, Crosby, Stills & Nash performed the song “Chippin’ Away” from Graham Nash’s 1986 solo album Innocent Eyes in front of the Brandenburg Gate
On 25 December 1989, Leonard Bernstein gave a concert in Berlin celebrating the end of the Wall, including Beethoven’s 9th symphony (Ode to Joy) with the word “Joy” (Freude) changed to “Freedom” (Freiheit) in the lyrics sung.
Roger Waters performed the Pink Floyd album The Wall just north of Potsdamer Platz on 21 July 1990, with guests including Bon Jovi, Scorpions, Bryan Adams, Sinéad O’Connor, Cyndi Lauper, Thomas Dolby, Joni Mitchell, Marianne Faithfull, Levon Helm, Rick Danko and Van Morrison.