Remembering the Fall of the Berlin Wall: A Firsthand Account From a Flipboard Curator

Inside Flipboard / November 9, 2014

Flipboard’s curator for Germany, Stefanie Bastian, remembers the night the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and suggests magazines to flip through in honor of the 25th anniversary of this historic occasion.

When I moved to West Berlin in 1988, the wall had been there all my life. Ostberlin, the capital of the communist German Democratic Republic (GDR), was right behind that wall—and yet worlds away. Nobody would ever have been bold enough to predict if would some day fall again.

After the war, Germany had been divided among the victors. U.S., UK, France and the Soviet Union each got their sectors. Berlin, the former capital, which was now located in the middle of the Soviet sector, got divided in the same way, which immediately led to conflict culminating in the Berlin Airlift in 1948. The Western sectors got shut off by the Soviets and needed full supply by air for an entire year.

In the 1950s, as the discordance between the Western Allies and the Soviet Union grew, the border between the Western and Soviet sectors gradually got more fortified. There was an upheaval in June 1954, which got silenced by Soviet tanks. By the late 1950s, more people wanted to leave the Soviet sector. So in 1961, in a surprising move, the wall was built, separating families and friends for over two-and-a-half decades.

Fast forward to 1989. The President of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, had just called for increased openness and transparency (aka glasnost) and people in the East listened carefully to this fragile wind of change.

I was with friends on the night of November 9, 1989, when an overwhelmed GDR official accidentally announced on TV that citizens of the GDR would be allowed to travel—effective immediately!

We rushed to the Brandenburg Gate. We had a strong feeling that the state officials would try to revoke the mistake so we wanted to get there on time. The border guards hadn’t even been given orders on how to deal with this situation, so it was lucky that nobody started to fire. Eventually they opened the checkpoints, letting people flood through.

At the Brandenburg Gate, the guards, who at first had been hosing people off, got overtaken by the events. They finally withdrew, leaving the hoses behind which we in turn used to climb up the wall. Here we spent the entire night, arm-in-arm with strangers that seemed so foreign and yet so familiar. I will always remember the feeling of sheer happiness and the privilege of being part of this amazing moment in history.

In the last 25 years, Berlin has become the wonderful city it is today, fully embracing its open-mindedness and welcoming spirit. These magazines celebrate this special place and time.

Berlin by Lina54: Rambling through Berlin’s cafés and pubs.

Berlin by Sven Knippenberg: Cool places to stay, eat and visit.

In Berlin by OstenWesten: A foodie’s Berlin.

Berlin by Ma Ja: Berlin’s buildings and hangouts.

DDR Era Germany by Neil Young: Amazing pics and historical information.

Fotostrasse by felipe tofani: Things to do and see in Berlin, off the beaten track.

1 Berlin 21 by Daniel Stecher: Flipboard community staple curates about his hometown.

Mauerfall – Fall of the Wall by Flipboard Deutschland: Historic pictures and anniversary celebrations.

~StefanieB is reading “Kochen in Herbst und Winter