leipzig Archive

Fall of the Berlin Wall – 20th Anniversary – links for 23 Oct 2009

Here are links for 23 October 2009 concerning that very important moment in German History (and world history), the fall of the Berlin Wall. The 20th anniversary of that momentous event is coming up on 09 November 2009.

If you missed them, consider reviewing other recent entries containing links regarding the anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall. And don’t forget our special page dedicated wholly to Fall of the Berlin Wall Resources.

And now to today’s links:

  • Today, the 23rd of October 2009, is itself an anniversary of some significance.  In 1989, the 23rd of October fell on a Monday, which means the special and now famous Monday prayer service was taking place at the Nikolaikirche (St. Nicholas’s Church) in Leipzig.  As had already become tradition, a peaceful protest followed the prayer services. The Wall Street Journal Online reminds us that over 300,000 took part in those Leipzig demonstrations on 23 October 1989.
  • At Guardian.co.uk, Will Buckley remembers the DDR-Oberliga, the top football (soccer) league in communist East Germany.  His tagline: “When the Berlin Wall came down 20 years ago this month, it took with it one of the world’s weirder football leagues.”  He describes the four types of teams in the league, starting with the first:

    The Dynamos: Connected to the secret police. Every club with the Dynamo prefix (eg Berlin, Dresden) was directly answerable to the head of the Stasi, Erich Mielke, who had little difficulty jumping the “fit and proper person” hurdle.

    It’s a fine article to remind us how utterly bizarre dictatorships sometimes are.

Today’s video is a bit humorous.  It’s a segment from Intrepid Berkeley Explorer’s “Septemberfest” series.  Watch those tourists hammer away at The Wall!

That’s it for this week.  Come back next week for more links concerning the Fall of the Berlin Wall

11 October 2009: Berlin Wall / End of the GDR links for today

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!