The Economist: “Günter Schabowski, the man who accidentally opened the Berlin Wall, died on November 1st, aged 86”

I had forgotten (or never knew?) this piece of history.


The Politburo had discussed travel the day before; he was out of the room. But Egon Krenz, the new party leader, had thrust a note into his hand before the press conference—just like a shopping list, clucked Irina—on which were scrawled four points, the fourth blazoned with a big red arrow. He had put it in his briefcase after a skim-read of it, and now had to work it out publicly with everyone listening. Uncharacteristically, the swaggerer began to stammer. “We have decided today…um…to implement a regulation that allows every citizen of the German Democratic Republic…um…to…um…leave East Germany by any of the border crossings.”

The question came: “When?” And he answered, scratching his head and shuffling papers, “Sofort”. Immediately.

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