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30 years fall of the Berlin wall – a retrospection

Berliner Mauer 1961 -1989

In november 2019, it was 30 years ago that the Berlin Wall came down. We looked back at this important moment in history, with a special blog series about the last months before the Berlin Wall came down. We’ve summarized all the articles here below. Enjoy the read!

January 18th 1989 – “The Wall will still be standing in a 50 and 100 years!”

Erich Honecker was the leader of the GDR between 1974 and late 1989, and by far the most powerful politician of the East-German state. He left a lasting impression on the East-German history, and not only by his prophecy about the Berlin Wall. Read on


©Stefan Richter: Weisses Kreuz zur Erinnerung an Chris Geoffroy in der Nähe des Berliner Reichstages

February 5th, 1989 – Chris Gueffroy – The last one shot

Chris Gueffroy, the last victim of the Berlin Wall’s “shooting order,” lost his life trying to escape East Germany in 1989. A talented gymnast, he resisted the pressure of competitive sports in the GDR. Despite rumors of the shooting order’s suspension, Chris was fatally shot while attempting to flee with his friend. – Read on

March 8th, 1989 –  Winfried Freudenberg, the last victim

Winfried Freudenberg, an East German electrical engineer, and his wife Sabine sought freedom by building a gas balloon to escape to the West in 1988. Despite meticulous planning, Winfried attempted the escape alone, tragically crashing in West Berlin, resulting in his death. – Read on

March 21st, 1989 -The Soviet Army Shrinks

Gorbatschov’s doctrine asserted that Warsaw Pact states would shape their own destinies. While the USSR wouldn’t impede national reforms, it wouldn’t support counter-revolutionary elements. This turned out to be a key catalyst for the 1989 revolution. – Read on.

April 3rd, 1989 – 30 Years later: no more shooting.

The revelation of the standing order to shoot at the Berlin Wall, tested the emerging unified society. Initially denied, evidence emerged in the 1990s confirming its existence. Soldiers faced trials for murder based on Order 39/60, indicating that the shoot-to-kill policy actually excisted. – Read on

a close up of an old buildingApril 5th, 1989 – Round Tables in Poland
In the late 1980s, the concept of the Round Table emerged in international policy-making, aiming to gather all stakeholders equally. In East Germany, Round Tables played a crucial role in understanding needs before German reunification. Despite benefits, rushed unification overlooked East Germans’ perspectives. In Poland, the first Round Table achieved significant agreements, including legalizing Solidarnosc and introducing free elections. – Read on

April 26th, 1989 – Honecker losing grip on reality

Days before the Austria-Hungary border opens, Erich Honecker frets over Hungarian unrest while ignoring his own party’s struggles. His archaic language and detachment from reality are almost comical. In a socialist jargon-laden speech, he criticizes Hungarian leaders, oblivious to his party’s similar predicament. – Read on

Ungarn baut den Grenzzaun zu Österreich ab

Ungarn baut den Grenzzaun zu Österreich ab (Quelle: Kronenzeitung/AP)

May 2nd, 1989 –  The iron curtain becomes porous

Hungary begins dismantling its border with Austria in May 1989, hinting at openness. Initially, the East German leadership remains calm, interpreting it as modernization. Despite assurances, only a small portion of the border is opened initially. Illegal crossings persist until the official border opening in August, easing escape attempts. – Read on

May 7th, 1989 – A turning point for the opposition in the GDR

In the GDR, the voting system under the ruling party SED allowed no real choice. Parties aligned with SED created an illusion of plurality, with voters simply asked to vote “YES.” Opposition forces sought to challenge this through voluntary voting monitoring. The discovery of fraud in the May Elections, proved to be a turning point. – Read on

May 31st, 1989 – George H.W Bush visits Germany

“But the passion for freedom cannot be denied forever. The world has waited long enough. The time is right. Let Europe be whole and free.” – Read on
June 4th, 1989 – One day, two signals

Two significant events outside Germany impacted its peaceful revolution. In China’s Tiananmen Square, protests for rights paralleled those in Leipzig and Berlin, but ended violently, contrasting with Poland’s free elections, showcasing change without bloodshed. The differing relations with the Soviet Union influenced their outcomes: limited independence in Poland facilitated change, while China’s autonomy prolonged repression. – Read on

June 13th, 1989 – Gorbi-Mania

Gorbachev’s Western popularity surged with his Perestroika and Glasnost policies, symbolizing hope for change in Eastern Europe. His joint declaration with West German Chancellor Kohl affirmed nations’ rights to self-determination, and lead to pivotal in subsequent regime changes. – Read on

June 27th, 1989 – Horn and Muck dismantle the Iron Curtain

Hungary’s 1989 border opening to Austria, highlighted by Foreign Secretaries Horn and Mock cutting through razor wire, marked the Iron Curtain’s end. Despite risks, GDR citizens rerouted through Hungary and Austria for freedom. This spurred holiday changes and heightened tensions, leading to tragic incidents. – Read on

August 19th, 1989 – The Iron Curtain is becoming increasingly perforated

The Iron Curtain’s erosion accelerated with a symbolic border fence cut between Austria and Hungary in June, leading to a pivotal moment at the Paneuropean picnic in August 1989. Despite suspicions and fears, hundreds successfully fled to Austria, showcasing the power of individual humanity in shaping historical change. – Read on

September 10th, 1989 – New structures, New Forum

The New Forum, pivotal in East Germany’s democratic movement, formed in 1989, advocating for societal change without specific political demands. Initially rejected by authorities, it gained significant support. Eventually, it evolved, forming political parties and contributing to the country’s reunification, though its political influence waned over time. – Read on