Protest against Egon Krenz being installed as chairman of the State Council outside the State Council building in East Berlin, 24 October 1989.
Source: picture-alliance/dpa/Wolfgang Kumm

Fall of the Wall

The East Germans were calling for freedom of travel. Following the announcement of new travel regulations, East Berliners flooded to the checkpoints, forcing the opening of the border the very same night.

The steady flow of people escaping to the West had not let up since the summer of 1989. Tens of thousands left the GDR in the first few days of November alone. The situation was becoming untenable for the country's leadership. At an international press conference on the evening of 9 November, the SED's representative Günter Schabowski announced the most liberal travel regulations in the GDR since the Berlin Wall was built.

In fact, controlled travel possibilities with passports and visas were supposed to start the next day. But the press conference was broadcast live on East German television. Television channels in the West ran a story an hour later entitled: "GDR opens border". More and more East Berliners gathered at the crossing points at the Berlin Wall, pressuring the surprised border guards to implement the announced travel regulations immediately.

Shortly after midnight, all the border crossings were open. The Cold War and the division of the world into two opposing blocs had come to an end. Western television channels broadcast scenes of the fall of the Wall around the world.

The Bornholmer Straße border crossing was the first to be opened in response to pressure by the East Berliners in the night of 9 November 1989.
Source: Andreas Schoelzel
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