I’ll be posting lots of links in the next month as we come upon the 20th anniversary of the opening of the checkpoints in Berlin on 09 November 1989. Today’s textual links concentrate on what some might consider the true anniversary date: two days ago, 09 October. This was the day in 1989 when a mass of 70,000 people successfully made their way arm-in-arm around the city of Leipzig in East Germany, singing “Wir sind das Volk” (We are the People) as they passed Stasi headquarters. No shots were fired, no blood was let. To many, this signaled the regime’s weakness and thereby spurred on continuing, ever-growing demonstrations.
I enjoy Tony Paterson’s article, “Europe’s Revolution: The pastor who brought down the Berlin Wall”, because he can insert a bit of personal perspective, having visited Leipzig that year to cover the city’s annual trade fair. His piece concerns Christian Führer, pastor of Leipzig’s Nikolai Church, which had become the famous location of the Monday prayer meetings which climaxed with the events of 09 October. Paterson:
The Monday meetings just kept growing and growing: from about 600 in late 1988 to 4,000 in September 1989.
At that point, the regime started cracking down:
“There were these terrible beatings,” recalled Führer.
That was in September. So you can imagine the tension that grew each Monday, with the participants knowing that the regime had now shown itself to be willing to use violence. Read Paterson’s article for the rest of the story.
The BBC’s Brian Hanrahan (“The Day I Outflanked the Stasi“) became very familiar with the events of 9 October 1989, having traveled there incognito to cover them. He escaped Stasi attempts to apprehend him and was later able to report what he saw on BBC television news. Read Hanrahan’s article and view the original television news segment.
I close with another great video found at YouTube. This concerns 9 November 1989 itself (not 9 October like the two articles mentioned above). I really enjoy this video for the up-close and personal footage it offers. Hundreds of East Berliners have descended upon the Bornholmer Strasse and are anxious to cross. The hesitation of the authorities is very evident here. Watch and enjoy!