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.