20 years ago today, Günter Schabowski, then a member of the SED Politbüro of the German Democratic Republic, gave his now famous press conference about the lifted visiting rules for travels from East to West Germany. When asked by a journalist when the new rules would apply, he said: “Immediately.” This was not quite correct, free travel was planned to begin the next day, but the outcome was that two hours later thousands and thousands of people were swarming to the Berlin Wall, demanding to be let through. The border guards were overwhelmed, opened access points and that was it – the Wall was open, the downfall of the DDR regime began, the Cold War ended and divided Germany started the journey towards reunification.
When writing this it sounds so cut and dried; but, way back then, this moment in history could not have left many Germans unmoved.
A few weeks ago the “Wende Museum” in Los Angeles had installed some original segments of The Wall along Wilshire; last night an additional “Wall of Art” was torn down at the site at midnight in memory of the historic events 20 years ago.
When I went so see the “Wall” in front of the Variety Building, children were playing around the wall segments. They were only interested in the colorful display – and yes, I thought, you are too young to be burdened with thoughts of war and politics. Keep on playing, enjoy the carefree time and leave “the rest” for the time being to the adults.