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25 Years Ago...

Watch this Just do it. Even if you can't understand a single word of German, the visuals in this special, which aired on the German national network ZDF, are a powerful attest to the amazing, world-changing events that occurred 25 years ago. If you were alive at that time and if you have any interest in recent European history, you've probably seen the videos previously of the night the Berlin Wall fell. You'll see them here, but you'll also see some other amazing but lesser-known moments captured on film, including the Monday protests in Leipzig (watch as the paid DDR thugs try to break up the protest but are shamed by the crowds under the sharp glare of the international media), the flight of DDR refugees through the Hungarian-Austrian border when it briefly opened, the cheers erupting in Prague when other DDR refugees are granted passage to the West, the massive demonstrations in Dresden, the huge protest in Leipzig where the crowd is shouting "Keine Gewalt!" ("No violence"), the protest that erupted outside the Berlin Palace of the People when Gorbatchev visited DDR leader Eric Honneker, the famous press conference where a DDR functionary accidently declared the East-West border open immediately, and finally, the spotaneous outpouring of sheer joy when the hated Wall was finally breached.

If the state of the world today makes you depressed... these powerful images can't help but provide a much-needed antidote. The fact that Vladimir Putin could witness these events in Dresden first-hand and later declare them as a "catastrophe" shows just what an unfortunate abyss into which Russia has now descended. Relive these events, and breath a sense of hope for the future of Europe. And... gaze in wonder at those late 80's hairstyles.

Posted by
217 posts

Will watch, have family who lived through this. Thanks.

Posted by
507 posts

Thank you for a look into the past. I remember some of the scenes as they were shown on national news. Now to forward this video to my offspring who were barely around to 15 yrs of age.

Posted by
11677 posts

Thank you. I cooked a German dinner tonight in celebration of the night the Wall fell, and sent messages to my kids, who were 10 and 13 at the time, to remind them of the moment we heard the news. I was driving a car, having picked them up at school, and had to pull over and stop because I was overcome with joy.

I studied in Germany in college and visited Berlin when it was divided. My sons studied in Berlin after reunification, and what a difference.

Posted by
1976 posts

Thanks for posting this, Tom. Does the link to go the video? The video that appears on the webpage seems to be about hunger. Is there something I'm missing?

It's interesting that two pivotal events in recent German history happened on the same day, 51 years apart: Kristallnacht on Nov. 9, 1938 and the fall of the Berlin Wall on Nov. 9, 1989. Germany lost its way by 1938, and a new generation found it again in 1989. I was 8 when the Wall fell and don't remember it, but my German friend does of course. He had family in East Germany and his parents would bring them chocolate, nice clothes, and other items they couldn't get.

On my first visit to Germany a few years ago, my friend took me to the former East/West border to see a watchtower and paved tank tracks. Then we went to a medieval monastery and then a fortress built and modified between the 9th and 14th centuries, all in the same area of the Harz Mountains. I was fascinated. I'd been to Europe before and knew that you can see many layers of history at the same time, but there's something so poignant about the layers of history in Germany.

Posted by
12040 posts

Sarah, I've fixed the link. It looks like the page I originally linked changes to a different program every day, but the one I have on there now connects directly to the archive of this show.

Posted by
206 posts

I was living and working in Germany while the wall was still up and took several trips from Frankfurt to Berlin. The train always stopped at the East German border while armed guards and dogs patrolled the tracks to make sure nobody got on or off at the border. Seeing pictures and video of the wall did not do the wall justice. Armed machine gun towers every few hundred yards. The wall with all the flowers and memorials where people tried to cross that did not make it, barbed wire and cut glass imbedded in the top of the wall. I just spent a few weekends there and it was always sad and depressing anywhere close to the wall. So, I can imagine the joy of those who lived there when it finally came down. Germany has a past history of some really bad time. But for so many years now, it is a country that is appreciated and loved by so many residents and visitors. Still one of my favorite places to visit.

Posted by
12086 posts

That was my last trip to a divided Berlin 25 years ago. Who could have known that the Wall would come down in Nov. '89. I was there in Europe, as usual, in July/August '89 for 4 weeks, which, naturally, included a day trip to East Berlin, this time solo through Bahnhof Friedrichstrasse with its mandatory exchange amount, getting back that DDR currency reminiscent of Monopoly money and worthless outside East Germany. On the way back you were checked (kontrolliert) three times, none of the perfunctory Vopo border guards spoke English to any one the tourists going over. I never saw that or heard it. None of the instructional signs directing you where to go, stand in line, etc was written in English. Everything was written only in German.

Going through at Bahnhof Friedrichstrasse was not intended to give the western visitor a welcoming experience. Of course, that regime wanted westerners, be they US, Swedes, French, British, etc going over with the mandatory minimum exchange amount. It was one way the DDR got hard currency. Bahnhof Friedrichstrasse is absolutely nothing today compared to the spartan, utilitarian place it was run by Vopos.

This was the time the regime was losing its young productive citizens, tons of them, people needed in a society. A lot of tourists, so did I, went to the Brandenburg Gate until where that was closed off which the East Germans called "Grenzgebiet." Those signs with that particular East German printing can be still bought in souvenir shops on Unter den Linden today.

The tourists also went to see in particular an event taking place on the hour on Unter den Linden, which I saw a few times too....the changing of the guard (Wachablösung) done by the NVA (the East German Army) with its goose-stepping (Stechschritt) routine., like that done by the Soviets at the Soviet Memorial on the Strasse des.17. Juni. in (west) Berlin. I saw this for the last time in Aug. Who could have imagined that before the year was out, this "changing of the guard" ceremony would be gone from history?