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Search for location "East Germany"

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from the Chronology

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1989. 4 Nov Half a million citizens had gathered in East Berlin's public square Alexanderplatz, calling for change. Five days later, the German Democratic Republic, facing mounting public pressure from its people, relented. They thought they could calm the protests by loosening the border controls, making it easier for East Berliners to travel, without opening the border up completely. A spokesperson for the East German government, Günter Schabowski, held a hastily arranged press conference to announce the changes. But in a moment that would alter the course of history, he mistakenly declared that East Germans would be allowed to cross the border freely, effective immediately.

The announcement stunned the journalists at the press conference, who greeted it with first disbelief and then elation. The news spread like wildfire and within hours, thousands of East Germans began flocking to the checkpoints along the wall.

They were met by bewildered border guards, struggling to understand what their instructions were regarding this new policy. At around 22:45, overwhelmed by the sheer number of people arriving and lacking any clear orders, the border guards finally opened the gates and overjoyed East Germans flowed over into West Berlin. [BBC]

Berlin; East Germany Berlin Wall

from the Chronology Canada

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