Giddy Germans climb the Berlin Wall after its opening on November 9.

Giddy Germans climb the Berlin Wall after its opening on November 9.

From Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s Ten-Point Program of Unity of November 28, 1989, which rushes the two Germanies to reunify:

[…]: I have offered to expand extensively  our assistance and cooperation, if a fundamental transformation in the political and economic system of the GDR is definitively accepted and irreversibly set in motion. For us, and especially  for me, “irreversible” means that the GDR state leadership reaches an understanding with the opposition groups on a change in the constitution and a new election law.

[…] Fifth: We are also prepared to take yet another decisive step, namely, to develop confederative structures between both states in Germany, with the aim of creating a federation, that is, a federal order, in Germany. However, that absolutely presupposes a democratically legitimized government in the GDR.

The Berlin Wall represented the most visible icon of a divided Europe. Erected in the summer of 1961 to isolate West Berlin, in reality  it walled in East Germans and stopped them from leaving their country.  Next to the Soviet gulag, “the Wall” represented the inhumanity of the Communists at their worst.

As a result of the dramatic democratization  of neighboring Poland and Hungary and Gorbachev’s promises of glasnost, East German people began to protest for more freedoms in the summer and fall of 1989. Some left the GDR and looked for breaches in the  iron curtain in Hungary in order to get to West Germany. But most  East Germans stayed (with the slogan “wir bleiben” – “we stay put”).  

East German pastors, intellectuals and pacifists began protests in churches and on streets. Leipzig and Berlin were the heart of this new expression  of “people power.” Without Soviet support, the regime of Erich Honecker lost its nerve and did not dare to apply force to stop the protesters. Honecker was forced to resign and the new GDR regime was lost and opened the Wall on the night of November 11.

Protesters who had opposed the Communist regime by shouting “We are the people!” now changed their slogan to “We are one people!”. Barely three weeks later West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl made a dramatic move with his “Ten Point Program for German Unity.” Within a year, Germany was unified and the Allies, who had occupied the city since the end of World War II, departed.

President Reagan giving a speech at the Berlin Wall in front of the iconic Brandenburg Gate on June 12, 1987, proclaiming “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall”!

PHOTO CREDITS: FROM TOP Votava; Courtesy Ronald Reagan Library and Museum; Votava; Cartoon: Ironimus, Die Presse, November 11/12, 1989.

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The opening of the Berlin Wall unleashes patriotic fervor among Germans which will lead to German unification within a year’s time. 

 A rising sun that nobody would have expected only a few weeks ago.

A rising sun that nobody would have expected only a few weeks ago.