The Fall of The Berlin Wall
“I’ve just arrived from Berlin. It is like witnessing an enormous fair. It has the atmosphere of a festival. The frontiers are absolutely open. At certain points they are literally taking down the wall and building new checkpoints. At Checkpoint Charlie, thousands of poeple are crossing both ways.”
On November 9, 1989, the East German government announces that border crossings into Western Europe will once again be allowed. Unexpectedly, checkpoint guards open the gates allowing crowds from both sides of the divided city to celebrate together.
The images of happy people from East and West embracing and celebrating around the Berlin Wall still resonate as the moment of German Unity. In fact, the fall of the wall raised more questions about German unity than answers. No one knew whether West Germany’s allies and protectors would allow a reunited and fully sovereign Germany or whether the Soviet Union would tolerate a united Germany in NATO. The task of integrating East Germany’s command economy with West Germany’s social market system was fraught with challenges.
Despite the uncertainty, the unification process was worked out in the next year, and East and West Germany officially became one on October 3, 1990.
These images show the west-side of the Berlin Wall, circa 1988.
-from the George Bush Library
“Things are going very, very well. I am in Berlin. There were one million people here last night at the very spot where the Wall used to stand -“
-Chancellor Kohl of Germany on the German Reunification Process
On October 3, 1990, East and West Germany were reunified, one year after the fall of the Berlin Wall. This memo transcribes the brief conversation which occurred between President George Bush and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, describing the reunification celebration.