The Fall of the Berlin Wall
What better way to bring an end to ‘Cold War Week’ here at Bestofthe80s than with the event that pretty much brought an end to the Cold War?
Throughout the summer of 1989, the wind of change was blowing in Eastern Europe (no doubt giving a German heavy metal band some inspiration), and the communists could see their empire crumbling around them. In August, Hungary opened its border with Austria, allowing thousands of citizens to ‘go west’. And then, in November, a nice little ‘oopsie’ effectively brought down the Berlin Wall– which was, up until then, the biggest and most obvious symbol of communist rule.
It all started, of course, in 1961, as the people of Berlin woke up to the news that they would no longer be able to get across their city… unless they felt like dodging a minefield, eluding Dobermans, and climbing through a barbed wire fence. Over the next two-plus decades, the wall sat there, a constant reminder of communism and the Cold War.
Then, in June 1987, President Reagan gave his famous ‘tear down this wall’ speech at the Brandenberg Gate, and suddenly people went from having abandoned all hope, to wondering if the wall might actually have a chance of coming down in their lifetime.
And then… there was Günter Schabowski.
A member of the East German politburo, poor Günter was getting ready to speak at a press conference on November 9, 1989, announcing the easing of travel restrictions. Alas, no one bothered to tell him when the new policy would take effect, so when asked, Günter improvised. Thinking ‘immediately’ sounded like a good answer, he single-handedly (and a bit prematurely) made the Berlin Wall obsolete. (For the record, the East German government was hoping for a few days to get the border guards prepared, etc…)
Today, there are still remnants of the Berlin Wall in place to serve as a reminder (and as a nice tableau for graffiti), but most of it is long gone, destroyed by pickaxes, hammers, and any other blunt object that Germans could find to help speed up the demolition. But fear not, friends. If you can’t make it to Germany, you can always just drink a gallon of water and head to Vegas’ Main Street Station Hotel and Casino, and pee on a piece of history.
We ♥ the fall of the Berlin Wall.