Saturday 9 November 2019

das tritt nach meiner kenntnis …ist das sofort… unverzüglich

On this night in 1989, the Berlin Wall came down through the cumulative actions of countless brave individuals and a shift towards political reform and market liberalisation but the flash point occurred due to a press-conference held earlier in the day with a spokesperson who hadn’t bothered to attend the full internal party briefing.
Having just forced out long-term party leader Erich Honecker in favour of Egon Krenz, Günter Schabowski (*1929 – †2015), chief of the Politbüro and trained journalist, was installed as the care-taker government’s public affairs officer. Schabowski took a cigarette break during discussions that outlined proposals for a temporary relaxing of travel restriction and was given notes by Krenz to prepare him for reporters’ questions. Schabowski, however, improvised under pressure and built up expectations that the East German government had not intended. One reporter asked when would these new travel policies go into effect—to which Schabowski replied, “Right away, as far as I know—effective immediately without delay.” Upon on hearing this, thousands massed at border access points in Berlin, demanding that they be let through.