Reforms in the Soviet Union by Gorbatchev prepare the ground for the fall of the wall. Perestroika and Glasnost become bearers of hope in East Germany. An opposition movement emerges. Church groups, environmental activists, and peace activists exert pressure through demonstrations on the street. Meanwhile, thousands of East Germans escape to the West via the Hungarian/Austrian border and to the West German Embassy in Prague. Finally, on November 9, the Wall comes down. Guenther Schabowski, member of the Communist Polit Bureau, misspeaks and changes history.
January 19th 1989 ______________________________
Honecker declares "The Wall will be there in 50, even 100 years." Meanwhile, the "Perestroika" is already in full gear in the Soviet Union and the East German opposition movement is forming. Only weeks later Honecker's 27 years in power comes to a close. Through the efforts of the younger members of the Polit Bureau, Egon Krenz, head of the Communist Youth Organization becomes his replacement. (Summer 1989). (Summer 1989).
Last deathly shots
Twenty-year old Chris Gueffroy is shot while attempting to escape. He is the last victim of the Wall - bringing the total death count to 239.
Last escape attempt
Checkpoint Chausseestrasse: The last shots are fired. The escape attempt of two teenagers is stopped by the gunfire of border guards. Out of the 5000 escape attempts since 1961, 3000 were unsuccessful.
Mass Exodus and Demonstrations
Thousands of East German flee to the West via Hungary. Every major city witnesses large demonstrations against the communist government. The system starts to crumble. The Communist leadership tries to reinvent communist governing, in vein. The people have finally lost their faith in a just socialism. The people want free election and demand the right to travel.
November 9th 1989 ____________________________
The Fall of the Berlin Wall
Communist Polit Bureau member, Guenther Schabowski, mistakenly announces the opening of the checkpoints. A simple misspeak occurs and the Wall opens (Document). „In order to relieve pressure from our allies (referring to the situation of the West German Embassy in Prague and the mass exodus of East Germans via Hungary) the decision was made to open the checkpoints."
June 30th 1990 _________________________________
End of all Border Controls
The harassment of East German citizens stop with the cessation of all border control activities. Weeks later, on September 21th 1990, the border units are dissolved.
October 3th 1990 ______________________________
The Reunification finally closes this sad chapter of German history. The Wall is systematically demolished. The new land gives way to new construction projects; pieces and entire segments are sold and given away throughout the world.
November 9th 1999 ____________________________
The Wall in the mind of the German People
Ten years later, the physical wall disappears. Although only few places remain where parts of the wall and watchtowers can be seen, an invisible wall divides the country in two. (Tours). The disunity of between the East and the West us even felt in Berlin to this day. The German people must overcome their differences in history, education, upbringing, language, and culture. Then, the hopes for a true unification can begin!