The Walls Came Tumbling Down

The events of November 1989

November 1989 was a momentous month after which Europe would never be the same again.

1st November 1989


The ban on travel from East Germany to Czechoslovakia is lifted.
The recently emptied West German Embassy in Prague is filled again with East Germans wanting to leave.

4th November 1989


There are demonstrations held across the whole of East Germany......including Berlin and Potzdam.
The people demand freedom of opinion, free elections and freedom to travel.

4th-5th November 1989


The East German Politburo allows its citizens to leave for West Germany via Czechoslovakia.
This exit route is in addition to the one via Hungary.
Within a few days over 50,000 East German citizens leave for West Germany.

6th November 1989


In Leipzig, a staggering 500,000 attend the Monday meeting.

9th November 1989 (morning)


Four officials meet In the Ministry of the Interior in East Berlin.
They are tasked with writing a document to modify the existing border laws to address the current crisis.
The document is titled, "Immediate Granting of Visas for Permanent Exit."
Visits will also be allowed but only for 30 days a year and applicants must already hold a passport.
Applicants wanting a passport must wait at least four weeks for it to be issued.
This information is not to be released until 4am on the 10th November.

9th November 1989 (6pm)


Gunter Schabowski is the Central Committee Media Spokesman..........a new role for the Politburo..

He begins his press conference at exactly 6pm.
At 6:53pm they reached the final point on the agenda.
Schabowski (visibly exhausted) reads out the “heavy bureaucratic formulation” of the new travel regulations.
The American NBC journalist asks, "When does that go into effect?"
Schabowski hasn't been briefed on the document which he hasn't fully read.
He appears puzzled, scans the document and replies, "Immediately, without delay."