20 years ago – November 9,1989

© msnbc.com

Today, twenty years ago, the Berlin wall fell.

I was thirteen at the time and I remember seeing the news on TV. But because my family lived in the far western part of (West) Germany, close to the Dutch border, I think I didn’t really understand how huge this was.

Yes, of course, I knew about the “two Germanys” (even though I think I got the full picture – historically – a couple of years later in my history class at school) and I did understand that something “life-changing” was happening, but since I didn’t have any personal connection to East Germany (no relatives, no family friends) and we didn’t live close enough to the border, I felt like a spectator more than a “part” of the happenings.

I recall a story that my uncle told me once. He used to be a professional soccer player (hey, I didn’t even know there was a Wikipedia entry about him :)) and he was recruited by Tennis Borussia Berlin between 1976-1979.
He lived in West Berlin for 3 years and told me about how the Autobahn to (West) Berlin, the only way to get there, was lined with high barbed wire fences and there was only one way to go, which was forward. If you stopped on the Autobahn to (West) Berlin, you acted suspiciously and could have easily been detained.

I didn’t visit Berlin for a long time after the wall came down, frankly because I didn’t have any reason to go there. My first visit was in 2000, when my then-boyfriend and I drove to Berlin to see a concert at the Parkbühne Wuhlheide, a venue in the Eastern part of Berlin. Even 11 years after the fall of the wall, there were still visible differences between the two parts of the city.

I have a lot of friends now that grew up and used to live in East Germany and I’ve visited the united Berlin a couple of times since 2000.
I am so very grateful for having those wonderful people in my life, and for that – admittedly selfish reason – alone it was worth for the Berlin wall to come down.

When I watch movies about East Germany (two German movies I want need to recommend, if you haven’t seen them yet, are “Goodbye Lenin” and “The Lives of Others“), I find it hard to believe that that was the reality behind the wall… the spying on people, the censorship on literature and other media.
On the other hand, I can understand that at first, it must have been very frightening and surreal for many East Germans to believe that they could actually cross the border into West Germany and by no means has the reunification been an easy one.
However, it still is one of the historic milestones of my country.

  1. I was young when it happened. I have to admit, the only thing I remember about the Berlin wall coming down was that it was BIG deal and that I didn’t really understand it.

    One of the memories I DO have is that the local radio station I listened to, was giving away pieces of the Berlin Wall as prizes and that was odd to me.

    20 years later…I get it!
    .-= Carolina´s last blog ..It’s Who’s Touch? It’s MY TOUCH!! =-.

  2. I was 19 years old and I do remember this historical moment – I was so happy that I was able to see my grandfather from that day on whenever I wanted. An unbelieveble event! We can change things without using guns…
    .-= Tanja´s last blog ..Dago, 6 Wochen alt / Dago, six weeks old =-.

  3. I remember sitting in front of the TV with my friend, who did not know where her parents were and was frightened they might have left her for a better life in west Germany … cause this happened to some kids. We were amazed, could not believe it, and only started to grasp how detached we were from the rest of the world. On week later my mum took me to West Berlin, a train journey of 2 hours, as I lived on the “other side” San, at the polish border. It was like going into wonderland, the colors, smells, exotic fruits to buy on the street, overwhelmed by CHOICE. We got 100 DM and I bought myself the most colorful umbrella you can imagine…It was scary, new and unbelieveable, a taste of freedom you never knew.

  4. It was all over the news last night. I was just 4 years old when it happened but I do get goose bumps when I see it on TV.
    .-= Tinka´s last blog .. =-.

  5. I was eight when the wall came down. I was in America and really had no clue as to what was going on. I remember thinking it was scary and I was worried people were going to get hurt. Like Carolina said above me, “Twenty years later, I get it!” :-)

  6. I was 9 years old and remember some of the scenes they showed on TV. I was allowed to stay up later than usual that night so that was exciting for me…. haha. But just like you I had no relations to anybody who lived in the DDR back then and I was so young that I didn’t grasp how important that moment was until later.

    And for movie recommendations: Another good one is “The Tunnel” (from 2001 with Heino Ferch, Alexandra Maria Lara, Sebastian Koch), which you can get on Netflix. And while we are talking about movies, another one I recommend is “Black Book” (different topic though) from 2006. It is a Dutch movie by Paul Verhoeven, but also with Sebastian Koch, Alexandra Maria Lara etc. F was joking and asking if we only had like 5 or 6 different actors in Germany who star in every German movie because it seems like it’s always the same actors.

  7. I watched all the coverage last night on the French news, it was too bad with the rain! I think it is an important moment in German history, the time when healing started. P.S. I filled out your contact form to reach you about guest posting.
    .-= Andi´s last blog ..Flow =-.

  8. I was ten years old and I didn’t really understand what was happening back then. I don’t even remember much of it, all I know is that we had lots of relatives in the Eastern Part (Berlin and Potsdam) and visited them quite often and I remember how we were not allowed to take any tapes with kids stories like Sesame Street or Benjamin Blümchen (those things that were there before the CD became popular :) ) which was hard for us kids because it was a long drive and even longer wait at the border. I remember they would literally “take apart” our car in hopes to find anything we are smuggling on the way there and to see if someone tries to flee (hidden somewhere in the car) on the way back. My parents actually attended those Demonstrations in Berlin right before the wall came down and had left us with some relatives because it was to dangerous to take me and my siblings.

    Good thing the wall came down because my hubby is from a small town between Magdeburg and Berlin and I wouldn’t have met him without it. Sad thing is, my mother-in-law is still a little stuck on those “good old times” and is always starting arguments about how much better I had it back then compared to her (she is not even taking into account that I was a kid) *sigh* kinda frustrating after all those years!

  9. Two things I learned from my friend. 1. The day after the Wall fell several homes in her neighborhood were abandoned. Yes, spies.
    2. When her husband was sent into W. Berlin for training on computers, he was brought to the comptrollers office and told that he had better return because they had his wife and daughter and they would suffer.
    It was a bad time.
    I made 11 trips into E Berlin before the Wall came down. I wanted to see and feel what it was like. I never believed the Wall would come down, but thankfully it did!
    .-= Maribeth´s last blog ..When A Stitch In Time, Doesn’t Make A Bit Of Difference! =-.

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