Many Germans have fond memories of that day. Some even have remarkable stories to tell.
The Berlin Wall kept Germany divided for decades. Desperate for freedom, many put their lives at risk to cross the border. Some wanted to be with family on the other side. Others wanted opportunities that only the West presented. The desire for freedom was so strong that at least 136 people died during their escape attempts. And in the weeks leading up to November 9, mass anti-regime demonstrations took place all over Germany and Europe. When the border between East and West Germany was finally opened and people stormed across the Berlin Wall, the rest of the world came to a standstill as people watched the events unfold on their television screens. To everyone’s surprise, there were no conflicts. No one was killed. And Germany was free.
Celebrations stretched not just across Germany, but across the entire world. And for Germans, life as everyone knew it would never be the same again. As we celebrated the 28th anniversary of the fall of the wall on Thursday, we remembered a day that gave Germany freedom, hope and a brighter future – without walls.
But of course, we cannot ever let this date overshadow one other historic anniversary: Thursday also marked the 79th anniversary of the Night of the Broken Glass (the so-called Kristallnacht). This was a night where a series of anti-Semitic pogroms began in Germany, leading to the destruction of Jewish homes and businesses. Many Jews lost their lives at this time, and many more were arrested or sent to concentration camps. The night of November 9, 1938 was one of the most horrific moments in German history, and it’s one we must never forget. November 9 is forever marked by both tragedy and joy. And although both events took place many decades apart, we must be sure to reflect on the importance of both of them.
Nicole Glass – Editor, The Week in Germany
I was 19 when the wall came down and I remember how happy we were and how free we felt for our eastern German family and friends. Everyone wanted a piece of the wall even if it was the tiniest piece. There was a big time of adjustment for east and west right after, since culture and work ethics had drifted apart. Today you won’t even notice a difference. The east has been rebuilt so beautifully and eastern Germans integrated into the western culture.