Fall of the Berlin Wall – 20th Anniversary – links for 22 Oct 2009

Fall of the Berlin Wall – 20th Anniversary – links for 22 Oct 2009

Here are links for 22 October 2009 concerning that very important moment in German History (and world history), the fall of the Berlin Wall.

If you missed them, consider reviewing other recent entries containing Berlin Wall / GDR links. And don’t forget the Berlin Wall Resources page.

  • At CNET News, Tim Leberecht praises the Berlin Twitter Wall. I tweeted to #fotw, did you? :)
  • Marcus Walker of the Wall Street Journal Online addresses the doubts about which reporter elicited the history-changing response from Günter Schabowski at the press conference (see lead photo of this blog post) on 09 November 1989. Today’s video (see below) shows this press conference and gives you the background of what I’m talking about. Was it, in fact, Italian reporter Riccardo Ehrman? He received Germany’s highest honor for doing so, but a West German reporter is claiming it was he, not Ehrman, who opened the Berlin Wall. A fight for journalistic honor!

Today’s video is another in the Guardian’s series, “Berlin Wall: 20 Years On.” Unfortunately, the Guardian does not provide any embed code for this video, so you will actually have to visit that link to see it. This part — part four — of the series recalls 09 November 1989 itself. It includes a bit of trivia that I think a lot of people don’t know about: Günter Schabowski‘s mistaken belief — which he uttered aloud at a press conference — that the checkpoints were to be opened immediately. This was not, in fact, what the East German government had intended.

The transcript of Schabowski’s screw up can be seen at this PDF link from wilsoncenter.org. The critical part:

Schabowski: (um…)(reads:) “Permanent exit is possible via all GDR border crossings to the FRG. These changes replace the temporary practice of issuing [travel] authorizations through GDR consulates and permanent exit with a GDR personal identity card via third countries.”
(Looks up) (um) I cannot answer the question about passports at this point.
(Looks questioningly at Labs and Banaschak.) That is also a technical question. I don’t know, the passports have to … so that everyone has a passport, they first have to be distributed. But we want to…

Banaschak: The substance of the announcement is decisive…

Schabowski: … is the …

Question: When does it come into effect?

Schabowski: (Looks through his papers…) That comes into effect, according to my information, immediately, without delay (looking through his papers further).

Labs: (quietly) …without delay.

Beil: (quietly) That has to be decided by the Council of Ministers.

Question: (…Many voices…) You only said the FRG, is the regulation also valid for West Berlin?

Schabowski: (reading aloud quickly) “As the Press Office of the Ministry … the Council of Ministers decided that until the Volkskammer implements a corresponding law, this transition regulation will be in effect.”

And that, as they say, was that.

Until next time,

Bill Dawson