The Fall of the Berlin Wall 25 years ago

Today is the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall – one of the most important historic events in my generation’s lifetime. Ironically, this watershed event was precipitated by a simple, clerical error. To me, the events of November 9, 1989 are profoundly German: a tired, overwhelmed official –  Günter Schabowski –  reads from the wrong memo and accidentally makes the historic announcement that all East Germans are free to travel to the West, effective immediately. This announcement prompts tens of thousands of citizens to rush to the checkpoints to stubbornly insist that the government honor the new policy, even though it’s clearly bogus. The border guards have no clear orders that night, except to stand their ground. And then one border officer- Harald Jägermakes the lonely decision to disobey his superiors and orders the gates opened, instead of ordering his soldiers to shoot. Jäger’s decision cascades into this historic event, as all the other commanders of the checkpoints follow his lead and allow the East-Berliners to freely cross into West Berlin for the first time in 28 Years.

Right after Shabowski’s announcement, then NBC anchor Tom Brokaw interviewed the man, and here is Brokaw talking about this surreal  moment in History:

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