news Thursday, January 29, 2015 - 05:30

By Amit Paranjape

November 9, 1989: a great day for Berlin; a great day for Germany; a great day for Europe... and a great day in the history of the world!
Today, we commemorate the 25th anniversary of this remarkable historic day. I was very fortunate to spend a week in Berlin in the summer of 1990, and was a witness to the excitement in Berlin a few months after the wall had come down. Here is a brief blog post...

If there was one landmark event that signaled a clear end of the Cold War, it was the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Berlin Wall

Ever since the end of World War II, Berlin was at the epicenter of the new Cold War. Germany got divided into two different countries: East Germany and West Germany. The capital Berlin also got divided. However, West Berlin was entirely surrounded by East Germany. The 1948 blockade of W. Berlin by the Russians (they cut off land route access to W. Berlin) represented a huge challenge. But the U.S. led allies supplied the city for months via air transport. Finally the blockade was ended.

Berlin 4

Through the 1950s, East Germany and East Berlin residents could move (and many did move) to the Western side for better economic prospects, and to escape from the authoritarian East German government (under U.S.S.R. influence). To put a stop to this, the Russians sealed the border between East and West Berlin in early 1960s (many parts of the border in Berlin were sealed off overnight on August 13, 1961). Many families were cut-off. The sealed border was converted to a permanent wall. J.F.K. delivered his famous speech "Ich bin ein Berliner" during this tumultuous 1960s period in Berlin. Some daring (many of them unsuccessful with bad consequences) escape attempts were launched over the next 3 decades by many to escape from the East side over to the West.

In the 1980s, Perestroika and Glasnost Gorbachev era saw big changes in Eastern Europe... eventually leading to the events on November 9, 1989.

Berlin Wall 2

East German border-guards look through a hole in the Berlin Wall in 1990

I was very fortunate to spend a week in Berlin in the summer of 1990. The wall had just come down few months earlier, but the full German reunification had not yet happened (that process was completed on October 3, 1990). This was a very interesting period for Berlin. There was excitement all around. Some parts of the Berlin Wall were still seen in many parts of the city, and people were seen chipping away at it, and collecting souvenirs. I myself was able to break a small piece and collect a personal souvenir (I still have it, well preserved!).

Berlin 5

Source: Raphaël Thiémard from Belgique

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