People and events that brought down the Wall
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As the world celebrates the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, FRANCE 24 takes a look at the events that led up to the historic night of November 9, 1989, and the people that made it possible.
It is always easier to decrypt events with hindsight, and twenty years down the line, the Berlin Wall’s demise seems inevitable. Back in 1989, however, few would have predicted the fall of the Wall and the chain of events it unfolded. FRANCE 24 takes a look at the momentous weeks that helped reunite a city, a country and a continent - and change the course of history.
On October 9, 1989, exactly one month before the Wall fell, 70,000 people joined in a peaceful march across the streets of Leipzig, in a daring show of opposition against the Soviet-backed East German government. Opposition leaders worked hand in hand with the Protestant church to organise, while one religions leader, Pastor Christian Fuehrer, became an icon of East German resistance.
Harald Jaeger was the border guard in charge of the first Berlin Wall checkpoint that opened on the crucial night of November 9, 1989, letting thousands of ecstatic East Berliners through to the West. Twenty years later, the retired guard says he has only one regret: not having opened the gates earlier.
It is not easy today to get a clear idea of the physical and psychological barrier the wall represented for East and West Berliners in the 1980s, especially for younger generations. German TV channel Deutsche Welle developed an animation in cooperation with the Berlin Wall Foundation, showing a reconstruction of the no man's land around the Wall.
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