25 Years: Der Fall der Mauer

Jace Jenican, Opinions Editor

25 years ago, the cold war was still raging. There were two Germanys: Bundesrepublik Deutschland (BRD-West Germany) and Deutsche Demokratische Republic (DDR-East Germany). West Germany was capitalist and allied with the Americans while East Germany was communist and under the thumb of the USSR. Berlin, the capital of Germany, was in the DDR but it was split into eastern and western sections. East was communist and part of the DDR. West was capitalist and part of the BRD. West Berlin was an island of capitalism and freedom in a sea of socialism and oppression. Der Berliner Mauer–the Berlin Wall–was put up by East Germany to keep their citizens from emigrating to West Berlin. The Berlin Wall was put in 1961 and wasn’t taken down until 1989.


On November 9th, 1989, the Socialist Unity Party of Germany which ruled East Germany for most of its existence, held a press conference to announce some new laws and regulations within the government. Günter Schabowksi, the DDR official who was handling the press conference, was handed a note just before he started that said soon East Germans would be allowed to travel to West Germany and West Berlin. At the end of the press conference, Schabowski read the note as it was written. One of the reporters then asked when this would take affect, and since the note didn’t specify Schabowski just replied, “sofort, unverzüglich” or “As far as I know, immediately.”


Frau Mueller described that “it was a surprise to everybody. It was suddenly on the radio announced the wall was open and everybody from East Germany could leave and come to the West and I couldn’t believe it.”  She also tells about how she “switched on the TV and saw all the pictures of the happy people from Berlin and the happy people coming over [the border] and everyone was hugging. Then everyone went out on the streets in the areas closer to East Germany. It took about an hour and then the first East Germans [reached my city] in cars and were honking and everybody was standing on the streets clapping and if they got out we hugged them. Basically all of Germany was celebrating the whole night. It was the craziest thing I’ve ever seen.”

November 9th will be the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall–der Fall der Mauer. November 9th marks the fall of communism in Germany and solidifies the democratic ideals that both America and West Germany were founded on. November 9th we should celebrate that freedom triumphed.