The Berlin Walls destruction was the result of a slip-up by a man named Gunter Schabowski. At a conference where he was supposed to make an announcement about the travel restrictions being loosened, he was handed a paper at the last second and didnt have time to proofread it. He said in his speech that the border would allow people to cross over from East to West Berlin and vice-versa.
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After being asked in the interview if the Berlin Wall would come down, he avoided giving a specific answer and continued to do so throughout the interview because he didnt know what to say. Understanding the cause of the Berlin Walls destruction is important because most people assume that Ronald Reagans famous speech on June 12, 1987, Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall! caused the destruction of this gargantuan border, which is not true.
The Berlin wall was a giant border that separated East and West Berlin. It started as a barbed wire fence with armed guards that was put up on August 13, 1961. It then grew to a concrete wall, and a second fence was built in June 1962. If people even tried to flee East Berlin, the were shot. The area between the two sides was christened the Death Strip. Then, in 1975, Border Wall 75 an even more secure wall, was built. Construction started in 1975 and took 5 years to finish. Border Wall 75 was comprised of 79 miles of fences, more than 250 guard dog runs, approximately 300 guard towers, 65 miles of anti-vehicle trenches, 20 bunkers, and finally 45,000 sections of reinforced concrete that were each 12 feet tall, 3.9 feet wide, and 3 tons. Despite the obstacles, more than 5,000 people made the escape to West Berlin via hot air balloon, tunnels dug underneath the wall, driving through the Death Strip, or leaping out of buildings that were in the middle of the wall.
On November 9, 1989, over 2 years after Reagans speech, a press conference was held about how the travel policies and restrictions of the Berlin Wall would be relaxed (in reality, they would just be making them more confusing). A man by the name of Gunter Schabowski was supposed to speak about these changes but he had not had the time to pre-read them. Since all the government did was make the restrictions more confusing, they were confusing to Gunter as well. He decided to just try and make up information on the fly, and it did not end well. When one reporter asked, When will the wall come down? Gunter abruptly left without answering the question.
Later on in the day, Schabowski did a private interview with, a reporter named Tom Brokaw, and once again, he continued to be unspecific. He was so vague that Brokaw took matters into his own hands and started to add in his own words. As a result of this ad-libbing, people who read the paper the next day thought the article said the wall was coming down. They then started to tear down the wall themselves because they were too angry and anxious to wait for the wall to come down by itself. With so much confusion, the guards called the superiors for clarification, but no answer was given. Within the next 72 hours, up to 3 million people crossed the border.
In conclusion, it is imperative to know why the Berlin Wall fell because it was such a horrible symbol of division. It seemed impossible to tear down at the time it was built, but it was brought down by Gunter Schabowski making a fatal mistake and the angry East Berlin citizens. This is important because in the words of George Santayana, those who dont know history are condemned to repeat it and one must not let the division represented by the Berlin Wall happen again.
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