November 9th, 1989

The events on the evening of November 9th, 1989 were the strangest that we had ever witnessed. Just a few weeks before, we had visited an old friend in Hamburg, and we had to go through the same border controls by car as we had to on every trip. Then during our visit, we discussed the situation among ourselves that there will never be an end to this border. It was as scary as ever to be confronted by the patrol and it was so sad that the people were divided. Other countries were breaking down the socialist regimes, Hungary for example had started opening its borders to Austria, which actually allowed East-Germans to cross over and travel safely to West-Germany. But the Wall was still the obstacle and it was ugly with its high dark grey concrete, its towers, flood lights, barbed wire and watch dogs.

And then suddenly overnight, it was opened. We were watching TV and the news reporters were not even sure, if it was opening officially, if there was a loophole in one place only, if everyone could cross into the West or not. People were approaching it from the west side to see if it was true, and of course the East Germans were all going to check it out as well on their side. It was so overwhelming, the elation, the jubilation of all people west and east, that they could move back and forth without resistance. The border soldiers were standing there stunned and then somehow the order came to open the borders and everyone just started flooding into West-Berlin. People were walking around the city and admiring the modern amenities that they were missing in the East. We were standing on the street late at night and were waving at people walking by. Cars would not stop honking and it was chaos everywhere. The freeway from Berlin to Hanover was a parking lot. Travelers were in a 12 hour traffic jam, to make the three hour drive.
I was very emotional and could not believe that this had happened.  For weeks everyone was amazed at the sudden change and that the East regime had crumbled. The Wall was an eyesore and people were attacking it with hammers and chisels. You could hear the sound of the hammering from hundred feet away when you walked towards the wall. It was amazing. Of course, everyone wanted a piece as a souvenir and I am glad that I have an authentic one that we had broken off ourselves. Most pieces offered today for sale are probably fake.

There are many memorials in Berlin to remember the time of the Cold War, the border and the victims who died at the wall. But I wish that Berlin had kept the whole area of the wall as a "green belt" so that it could never be forgotten.
The memory of this day still makes me smile today.

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