I remember that day extremely well.
It was the day that ended the German Democratic Republic….the fall of the wall.
It was also the end to an extremely peaceful revolution in a country that, by every sense of the definition, was as far from democratic as one can imagine.
For weeks, if not months, we had been witnessing trains full of refugees from East Germany arrive in Southern Germany. They took every opportunity they had to leave. It started through Hungary, with the Hungarian government not really stopping anyone who wanted to leave and then it extended to Czechoslovakia. Who doesn’t remember the German embassy in Prague overrun with hundreds of refugees. Women, children, infants, men. People climbing over the fence in the dark of the night.
Our foreign minister, Genscher, appearing on the balcony telling all that they would be brought to West Germany.
And then November 9 came.
I was home in the afternoon. My parents at work. Since we lived only steps from the border, truly, I was able to get East German television (we were in West Germany) . There was a news conference and Italian journalist asked if people could leave the country. There had been an lot of jibberish talking going on.
And it was said “everyone with a passport can leave the country”.
I called my father.
A man who had spent 13 years as a political prisoner in East Germany. Who hadn’t seen his home in over 30 years.
“That can’t be right,” he said.
I looked at the television, at the footage of people walking toward the border, be it the wall or their local border.
“No, they aren’t kidding dad.”
My father only closed his office twice. He didn’t even close it when I was born, he just dropped my mom off at the hospital.
The rest of the day was spent watching TV and then later going out side and greeting the rows and rows and rows of Trabbis arriving in our village.
When I read my father’s STASI file 3 years ago, my favorite sentence was the following: “Even after 10 years of re-education measurements, Prisoner XXXX is still a supreme enemy of our free and democratic nation.”
My father spent many years in solitary confinement. My father got almost all of his teeth pulled in torture. My father NEVER lost his inner freedom.
My father never broke. November 9, 1989 was a very special day for him.
I miss home today.
Here are my parents with their favorite child and a piece of the wall, removed by my sister, who lived in Berlin, the night of November 9, 1989.