Thilo Roth (Germany AC 08-10)
On the 9th November 1989, the one of the leading members of the East German government announced on a press conference that the borders would be opened and the citizens of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) would be free to travel to West Germany. On the question when this new rule should be implemented the uniformed press speaker that to his knowledge the new rule was to be implemented immediately, a mistake that would lead to the breakdown of the world order since the end of the Second World War.
Media soon picked up and started reporting that the borders of East Germany would be opened which led to thousands of East Germans, who had been already demonstrating for month, to demand from totally uniformed border soldiers to open the gates. Shortly before midnight the pressure was so big that the first border station opened its gates to the West and the East Germans started flooding into West Berlin, a historic moment which hit the governments around the world totally unprepared.
The wall build in 1961 to stop the constant outflow of Germans leaving the GDR to West Germany, has always been a symbol for the oppression and separation between East and West, communism and capitalism. Its fall 28 years later in this important night was of huge importance, since it set an end to separation and opened doors to new world order. It was the event that symbolised the end of the Cold War and the end to the split between East and West. The fall of the wall was a dream come true which generations of Germans never imagined to be able to witness.
The fall of the Berlin wall was most likely the most important event in the last twenty years, since afterwards the communist power started dwindling behind the whole iron curtain. 500 million people were introduced to a new economic system, capitalism, and lifted out of poverty. 20 countries have been introduced to a democratic government and East and West Germany have been reunited. One can now travel from the Baltic Sea to the Mediterranean Sea without showing a passport. The cold war between the two superpowers ended and gave way to new countries to start developing, China, India and Brazil. It led to globalisation of an extent it would have never been possible in a divided world.
Germany itself has been united a year after the fall of the wall, there is only one Germany, at least on paper. Berlin has been made capital again and the East quickly adjusted to capitalism. All Germans have equal rights, live in the same country and cheer for the same national football team. However still one can see and feel the divide between the East and the West. East Germany still has to fight with little industry and high unemployment, even after many investments, worth billions, from the West German government. Many villages in East Germany are deserted because the young population leaves to the West and the unemployment benefits in the West are higher because of the low living costs in the East. There is still now DAX (German stock index) listed company in Berlin and the population tends to vote more for the extremist parties then in the West.
Still this day is definitely one of the most important in recent German and world history and a day that should be always remembered. It should be remembered as a day on which a small mistake picked up by thousands of people, lead to the fall of a whole world order, a day which freed millions of people and gave them the freedom to travel wherever they wanted, a day which got the last stone rolling to set to an end the divide between East and West.
– United World College Student Magazine –