On August 19, the Paneuropa movement organized a “picnic” right on the border between Sopron and St. Margarethen.
Hundreds of East Germans seized the opportunity and crossed the border. Hungarian guards refrained from using arms to stop them. On September 10, Foreign Minister Horn announced that the border would be officially opened for Easter German citizens the next morning.
Over 50,000 East Germans poured out over the next few weeks. This first breach of the Iron Curtain in Hungary contributed to the destabilization of the German Democratic Republic. Along with the pressure from the civic protest movement, the East German regime lost its nerve and opened the Berlin Wall on November 9 – the symbolic end of the Cold War.
PHOTO CREDITS: CLOCKWISE FROM TOP AP Photo/wv/str/votava; APA-FOTO : KURT KEINRATH; Austrian Ministry of European and International Affairs.