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The fall of the Berlin Wall

The Story

It's a sight many thought they'd never see: people are dancing on the Berlin Wall. East Berliners are streaming through checkpoints all along the wall, their identification papers stamped without scrutiny by border officials. They're being welcomed with joy by their West Berlin counterparts, but under the celebrating there's a current of apprehension about what a borderless Berlin means for the future of the two Germanys. In this clip from CBC-TV, East German leader Egon Krenz calls for a new electoral process in the German Democratic Republic. 

Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: Nov. 9, 1989
Guests: George Bush, Richard Lugar, Guenther Schabowski, George Steinbruner, Hans-Jochen Vogel
Host: Peter Mansbridge
Reporter: Claude Adams, Patrick Brown, Gillian Findlay
Duration: 9:11

Did You know?

• In the fall of 1989 East German refugees began travelling by car to neighbouring Czechoslovakia to reach the West German embassy in Prague. At one point more than 2,000 were camped out on the embassy's grounds.

• In early November the East German government granted permission for its citizens to go to the West from Czechoslovakia.


• In Berlin, half a million people attended a rally on Nov. 5, 1989, demanding political change. Police had cracked down on similar rallies as recent as a month earlier, but that all changed on Oct. 9 when political leaders directed the police not to interfere.


• On the evening of Nov. 9, a Thursday, East German leaders announced on live television that the border would be open. The earliest people to arrive at checkpoints along the Berlin Wall were turned back and told to wait until the morning, but as the crowds grew, border guards let them across with a cursory stamp.


• "This is what we have dreamed of since we were little children,'' a 23-year-old East Berliner told the New York Times that night. ''We heard the news at 11:30 p.m., then when we heard they were letting people through, well, here we are. Of course we're going back home,'' he continued. ''That's where we live and we want to see what happens now. After this, there can be no turning back. This is the turning point everyone has been talking about.'' 



The Rise and Fall of the Berlin Wall more