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30 years of freedom: "East Germany opens borders"

Young people stick flowers in remains of the Berlin Wall during a commemoration ceremony today
Young people stick flowers in remains of the Berlin Wall during a commemoration ceremony on Saturday. Photo: Markus Schreiber/AP

Germany, on Saturday, celebrated the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, as President Frank-Walter Steinmeier expressed gratitude to Eastern European neighbors for encouraging a peaceful revolution, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: The wall separated the Communist-led East from the capitalist West in Berlin for about three decades. The wall "became a potent symbol of the Cold War ... followed a year later by the reunification of Germany in 1990," writes Reuters.

People at the Berlin Wall in the early 90s
Photo: Peter Zimmermann/picture alliance via Getty Images

How it unfolded: Frieder Reimold of The Associated Press "settled in on Nov. 9, 1989, to watch a televised evening briefing by Guenter Schabowski, a member of the Communist country’s Politburo," AP recalls in a reminiscence.

  • "About an hour into the rambling news conference, Schabowski mentioned that East Germany was lifting restrictions on travel across its border into West Germany."
  • "Pressed on when the new regulations would take effect, he looked at his notes and stammered, 'As far as I know, this enters into force ... this is immediately, without delay.'"

The event was so impulsive that Reimold didn't realize the implications.

  • Reimold, then the Berlin bureau chief of AP's German service, "typed out what has become his iconic alert: 'DDR oeffnet Grenzen' — 'East Germany opens borders.'"

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