Posts Tagged ‘Hans Modrow’

25 years ago today Berlin Wall became history

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

Twenty-five years ago today, the Berlin Wall became history. On this day 25 years ago – on February 19, 1990 – East German border guards began the large-scale demolition of the Berlin Wall. http://www.tagesspiegel.de/berlin/vor-25-jahren-berlin-waechst-zusammen-ddr-grenzsoldaten-reissen-die-mauer-ab/11390546.html By the end of the year, most of the Berlin Wall – or the “anti-fascist protection rampart” as it was called in East Germany – was history.

The demolition process that had been started by private Mauerspechte (wallpeckers), was completed by commercial construction crews. The initial teardown began in the area of the Brandenburg Gate. With jackhammers, crews began to remove 570 feet of Berlin Wall that stood between the Reichstag (Seat of the German Parliament) and Checkpoint Charlie (best known Berlin Wall crossing point between East and West Berlin). Trucks carted away the 2.6-ton wall segments. The East German company Limex would later sell them for up to 500,000 marks each.

The same area that was first freed from the Berlin Wall was also the location of the first provisional border crossing between East and West Berlin, hastily created in December 1989. Less than three years earlier, President Ronald Reagan had appealed to the Soviet leader: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” No one had imagined then that those words might soon become reality.

When the concrete elements were finally released from their foundation in February of 1990, most Berliners celebrated the event like a street festival. But not everyone shared their enthusiasm. Also on the day the Berlin Wall began to come down, a group of East German civil rights activists, clergy and politicians came together to discuss potential paths to a democratic transformation of East Germany. The group did not want to join West Germany and hoped to find a different solution. But East Germany was facing bankruptcy and economic collapse. In the preceding weeks and months, Hans Modrow, the last premier of the East German regime, had tried in vain to obtain a 15 billion mark loan from West Germany. At the end of their meeting on February 19, 1990, the group of round table members rejected the plan of joining West Germany and called for a demilitarized united Germany instead. We know that history did not support their decision.

 

For a sneak peek at the first 20+ pages of my memoir, Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom, click “Download a free excerpt” on the home page of http://www.walled-in-berlin.com. Walled-In is a story of growing up in Berlin during the Cold War.