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The end of a wall that bridged a divide -

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The end of a wall that bridged a divide

Carly Laird reported this story on Monday, November 9, 2009 12:10:00

ELEANOR HALL: It wasn't just a barrier. The Berlin Wall was also the most brutal expression of
Soviet power in post-war Eastern Europe. Twenty years ago today that came to an end. Ecstatic
Germans tore down the Berlin Wall that had divided their city and split communist Eastern Europe
from the West for almost a third of the 20th century.

The fall of the wall marked the collapse of communism in Europe and sparked a triumphalism in the
west, with one historian memorably claiming this was the 'end of history' and that the capitalist
democracies had won.

Many in the US claimed that President Ronald Reagan should take the credit, others that the
restraint shown by the last president of the USSR, Mikhail Gorbachev, was responsible. In fact it
was an event that probably surprised the leadership of both superpowers.

In a moment we'll be talking about the fall of the wall and its significance with a panel of
distinguished guests including some who were at the wall in 1989. But first a reminder of the
history of that infamous barrier between East and West Berlin.


NEWSREADER: The attention of an anxious world is focussed on East and West Germany and Berlin as
the communist German regime moves to close their border against further flights.

NEWSREADER 2: Daily the harassment by the East Germans goes on. They have sealed off famed St
Hendricks Cathedral.

JOHN F KENNEDY: Two thousand years ago the proudest boast was 'civis Romanus sum.' Today, in the
world of freedom, the proudest boast is 'Ich bin ein Berliner'.

TONY MCLELLAN (ABC reporter 5/12/1973): Why are people shot when they try to get out of your

GDR AMBASSADOR TO AUSTRALIA (5/12/1973): The people which are in line of our internal legislation
are not shot at all.

TONY MCLELLAN: Well, where do the dead bodies come from that are found frequently on the wall?

HANS RICHTER: You see, I think sometimes it is a little bit of propaganda about this wall and not
the wall and so on.

RONALD REAGAN: General Secretary, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union
and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalisation, come here to this gate. Mr Gorbachev, open this

Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

PETER THOMSON (presenter of AM 6/9/1989): Over the weekend 9,000 people left via Chekoslovakia in
just 24 hours. More than 170,000 have emigrated since September...

LEE DUFFIELD (ABC reporter in Germany 13/9/89): East Germany has made public a formal demand that
Hungary close the frontier. That added to tension between the two Warsaw Pact allies.

(AM theme music)

PETER THOMSON (5/10/89): But it is a party that thousands of East Germans don't want to attend. As
AM goes to air, hundreds of Mr Honecker 's countrymen and women have lined railway tracks hoping to
jump onto trains carrying refugees from Prague to West Germany.

JOHN LOGAN (19/10/89): The long-serving head of state and communist party leader in East Germany
Eric Honecker has resigned.

(ABC news theme music)

GEOFF HOWARD (ABC newsreader 10/11/89): The crack in the Berlin Wall has burst wide open as East
Germany grapples with the demand for change.

TOM BROKAW (NBC anchorman 9/11/89): What you are watching live on television is a historic moment.
A moment that will live forever. You are seeing the destruction of the Berlin Wall.

(Sound of crowd and hammering)

PETER CAVE (10/11/89): The sound you can hear is the Berlin Wall being chipped away. Through the
Brandenburg Gate there are several hundred people standing on top of the wall. They have climbed
there earlier tonight. Some from the East, some from the West and the banging sound you can hear, a
young man with coal chisel chipping away at the Berlin Wall.

GERMAN RESIDENT: I am a Berliner. I was six years old when the airlift took place. I saw in 63 the
wall was erected and it is overwhelming what I saw last night. I can't help it. The tears are
coming. It is fantastic. It is unbelievable and I had to see it with my own eyes.

GERMAN RESIDENT 2: I have waited for you for 10 years.

GERMAN RESIDENT 3: Such a beautiful feeling!

ELEANOR HALL : The sounds of celebrations as the Berlin Wall started to come down 20 years ago.
That montage prepared by Carly Laird.