We were invited to have dinner with Doro, a friend of Ulrike’s that she introduced to us before she kindly left us to look after her beautiful home, and great cat Maverick.
Dorothy has lived her life in Germany, growing up in the Kassel area not far from the lovely Harz National Park we love so much, but studied and lived in West Berlin most of her adult life.
Although she was only a child when the wall went up, she certainly remembers the night it came down.
As she told us the story of her standing on the top of the wall that night in November 1989, I’m sure we all had goose bumps
1989 was a pivotal year for German history, even more so for Berliners.
On the 9th November at 7pm a spokesman for the East Berlin Communist Party announced a change in his city’s relations with the West and starting at midnight that day citizens of the GDR would be free to cross into the West.
Later that night after realizing their mistake a second broadcast was made stating that on Nov 10th East German residents should first go to the migration office, by then it was too late.
Thousands of East and West Berliners flocked to the wall that night. They took hammers and picks to knock away pieces of the wall, and chanted “Tor Auf” or “Open the Gate”.
The border regime of the GDR was finally toppled by brave men and women taking to the streets, and soldiers who were just as brave not giving into the demands of their commanders to shoot – and no-one died that night, instead what is known as “the greatest street party in the history of the world” happened.
On that weekend more than 2 million people from the East visited the West. After 28 years separating families, friends, lovers and children from their grandparents, the wall came down.
So many were killed trying to cross that border, and thousands more incarcerated, abused both physically and psychologically, for decades denied free speech, the right to vote or freedom of travel.
Less than a year later Germany was unified.
Doro not only shared her story, she kindly shared her photos of that time with us as well.