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The fallen wall and the words never spoken


Günter Schabowski, the man who could not explain a measure and generated, in advance, a break in universal history.

On one side they called it the “Anti-Fascist Retaining Wall”, on the other it was “The Wall of Shame”.

For the world it was the Berlin Wall, which stretched for 155 kilometers dividing the old capital of the Reich.

His fall was a pivotal moment in history, like that of the Roman Empire, Constantinople or the French Revolution, the moment where there is a before and after.

As usually happens with the historical story, the fall of the Wall underwent a process of didactic simplification (which does not always express the truth but rather the most convenient part of the story).

The texts will speak of the will of the people, of the yearning for freedom, of boredom with tyranny... although the words said by Günter Schabowski (or, rather, those he never said) are relegated.

This functionary belonged to the Hitler Youth but after the war he joined the United Socialist Party of Germany and as a journalist he was editor of Neues Deutschland.

He eventually joined the Politburo and was the confidant of the party's general secretary, Erich Honecker, about to become the spokesman for the central committee.

His loyalty was indisputable, awarded with the Order of Karl Marx.

In 1989 a word traveled the world: Perestroika.

Economic problems plagued the government of Mikhail Gorbachev, who also proposed a political opening, Glásnost.

These winds of change reached elsewhere behind the Iron Curtain – as Churchill had dubbed it in 1946 – but many pro-Soviet leaders, like Honecker, were reluctant to take steps that would weaken the old regime.

Like Gorbachev, the new winds overwhelmed them in the least expected way.

Berliners had been trying to escape from the Soviet paradise for years.

Crossing the anti-fascist Wall was not an easy task and could cost them their lives (as the museum at Charlie Point attests).

Hungary and Czechoslovakia had opened their borders and restlessness was growing among the inhabitants of Berlin.

Honecker, an elderly man, was replaced by Egon Krenz, who decided to decompress the situation and allow East Berliners to visit the western part of the city without so many bureaucratic requirements starting the next day to organize the huge queues he thought might form. .

However, Schabowski said he had not heard this last part and in a press conference he announced the new provisions to foreign media.

When one of the reporters asked "Since when?" Schabowski hesitated, checked his papers and said "Immediately."

Minutes later a human tide packed the six border crossings.

To prevent a massacre, the barriers were raised and that night East Germany ceased to exist.

Many of Schabowski's comrades thought that he had gone mad or been bought by the West, which he emphatically denied.

A few days later he was expelled from the Party.

Since then he has been very critical of both his actions throughout those years and that of the pro-Soviet government.

He had to avoid a series of trials and finally died in 2015 at the age of 86, remembered as the man who brought down the Wall of shame.

Although the fall of the Wall was inevitable, there is always a human factor that precipitates it by work and omission.

Here begins an election year that promises a spectacle full of whores, gaffes, short-legged lies, and blunders, so we must never forget that an unhappy phrase or said at the wrong time can tear down a wall.


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Source: clarin

All news articles on 2023-03-23

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