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May 2nd 1989 - the start of the end of the Berlin Wall

Today 25 years ago, on May 2nd 1989, Hungary started to take down the barbed wire fence at the border to Austria. This marked the start of the final weeks of the Berlin wall.


Of course, it all started way earlier. It’s difficult to really say when it all started. Probably the seeds had already been planted when it became clear that Germany will continue as a divided country. Latest the revolt at June 17th, 1953 made clear that parts of the people in East Germany are not happy with the regime – and it showed to the outside the real face, the face of an autocratic regime. But the opening of the boarder in Hungary worked as a trigger and catalyst, it speeded up the events and was an important piece in a row of events that at the end lead to the fall of the Berlin Wall in the night from November 9th to November 10th, 1989.


The coming weeks and months a stream of people that wanted to leave East Germany started towards Hungary to try to cross the boarder there. Pretty soon in became clear that the Hungarian border police won’t stop people from leaving the country towards Austria – and the stream only increased, making Trabants left at the border an issue. An intense period started in East Germany, with weekly demonstrations on Mondays. The regime was running out of options to stop this – especially as the President of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, made clear that help form the Soviet Union and her troops was not to be expected. And even the GDR regime understood that closing the border to Hungary was not an option.


I this period my sister was still living in Budapest, and as usual I’d planned to visit her during early summer – to enjoy the city and to babysit her daughter. When I went to Hungary this time I was closely inspected at the border. You got read those eyes – they were not counting on seeing me back in the GDR. A young boy, not even 18, travelling alone to Hungary – with all those people crossing the border there to reach the West, what else would he do then leaving as well? But I came back and experienced some more exciting weeks in the run up to the fall of the wall – and the year thereafter, before both parts of Germany became one again.


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