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The Fall of the Berlin Wall

By Patrick Mondout

In July 1989, hundreds of East Germans sought refuge at the West German embassy in Hungary. Hungary allowed these refugees to depart for West Germany. In October, train loads of East German refugees from West German embassies in Prague and Warsaw were permitted to pass through East Germany to the West. Starting in Leipzig, pro-democracy demonstrations spread throughout East Germany, and East German leader, Erich Honecker, resigned. The Berlin Wall August 1961) was torn down on November 9, 1989.

Many Communist governments in Eastern Europe collapsed in 1989 and 1990. In December 1989, pro-democracy demonstrations in Czechoslovakia caused Communist Party leaders to resign, Former dissident Vaclav Havel became President. At the same time, Romanian leader Nicolae Ceausecu was overthrown, and on December 25,1989 he was executed by the new government. The Romanian Communist Party dissolved in 1990. In Poland, the communist party dissolved in 1990, and Solidarity (a Polish trade union organization formed in 1980) Leader Lech Walesa became President. In 1990, Hungary held its first free elections since 1945.

During a conference in Germany entitled On the Front Lines of the Cold War: The Intelligence War in Berlin, former Ambassador to Germany (1989-91) Vernon Walters had these words to say. "I had lunch with the Soviet Ambassador…[on November 1st], here in Berlin, and I said to him, ‘You want to try and win over the Germans, and you built that wall that keep husband and wife, and father and mother and children apart.’ He said, ‘That wall serves a useful purpose, and it will be here in a hundred years.’ I said, ‘Mr. Ambassador, if you really believe that, you’ve lost contact with reality.’ By this time, there were millions of people fleeing the DDR [the German Democratic Republic, or East Germany], coming out through Hungary. The Embassies in Prague and Warsaw and everywhere else were filled with people. I said, ‘You know, your party song, the Internationale, says, "the volcano is thundering in its crater. The final eruption is at hand."’ I said, ‘It is, but it’s not the one you’re looking for!’"

"Freedom Day"

The 10th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall was celebrated in both Germany and the United States. On November 9, 1999, the U.S. Congress marked anniversary of with the introduction of a resolution to establish an international “Freedom Day.” Senator Joe Lieberman (D-CT) announced the plan from the Senate floor. “The fall of the wall was a transcendent moment in the struggle against totalitarianism and for democracy, a smashing victory for the human spirit and the cause of human rights,” Lieberman said. “So it is only fitting that we choose the anniversary of this epochal triumph to honor and celebrate freedom's march of progress across the planet.” The Resolution, in part, read:

Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That it is the sense of the Congress that- 1) a Freedom Day should be celebrated each year in the United States; and (2) the United States should join with other nations, specifically including those which liberated themselves to help end the Cold War, to help establish a global holiday called “Freedom Day.”

When the wall comes tumbling down...

East meets West: A crowd gathers on the West German side of the Berlin Wall at Potsdamer Platz to watch as the structure is dismantled. November 14, 1989.

DoD photo

Where Are They Today?

Pieces of the original Berlin Wall are in museums and literally all over the world. You can find both genuine and fake pieces of it at eBay (check our links to the right and below).

 

 

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A PIECE OF THE ROCK

Pieces of the Berlin Wall were chipped off and sold as souvenirs. But are all of them authentic? It is said that if all the alleged pieces of the Berlin Wall were brought back together into a new wall, the resulting wall would be longer than the Great Wall of China!

DoD photo


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