The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Michael Giberson

Today is a day celebrated as the day, 20 years ago, the Berlin Wall fell.

Technically speaking, the wall itself was breached a few days after November 9, but this is the day an East German bureaucratic mix-up inadvertently and briefly allowed East Berliners free movement into the west.  When combined with events of the prior several weeks in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and East Germany, the brief opening between the two halves of the city soon led to a physical assault on the barrier itself.

The Berlin Wall was perhaps the most potent symbol of the divisions between the capitalist West and the authoritarian East, and its fall has stood as symbol of the collapse of communism.  East and West Germany reunited about a year later, and other countries in the former Soviet sphere continued rapid movement toward open societies.

Many video accounts of the fall of the wall are available on YouTube, both historical looks at the fall and many current 20th anniversary reports.  See, for example: “Fall of the Berlin Wall: The 20th Anniversary of the moment“.  (Google News provides links to many, many news stories on the fall.  See also Lynne’s earlier post on the anniversary.)

UPDATE: The minor flap about when now-French President Nicholas Sarkozy arrived and took a small pickaxe to the Berlin Wall reminds me of the Romanian film 12:08 East of Bucharest, which involves similarly disputed accounts of just when (indeed, whether) one of the characters joined protests against the Ceauşescu regime before the Ceauşescus fled the country.

Films more directly related to the Berlin Wall include Der Tunnel (The Tunnel), Goodbye, Lenin, Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others), or The Spy that Came In from the Cold.  Each film touches on life in East Berlin and the Berlin Wall in some manner.

Any other recommendations?

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