- hitorical event: West German TV stations immediately announced the sensational news. Since the East Germans also watched the news, they enthusiastically rushed to the border crossings.
On this day the leading people of German Democratic Republic (East Germany) decided to allow its citizens free passage to the West. The decision was expected to come into force on the following day. The task to announce the decision to the public was given to Günter Schabowski, the party head of East Berlin. He, however, did not attend the session on which the decision was made and did not know that it should come into force only the next day. At a press conference he read the written decision aloud. Reporters asked him when the decision will take effect. He, in confusion, replied it was effective immediately. West German TV stations immediately announced the sensational news.
Since the East Germans also watched the news, they enthusiastically rushed to the border crossings. They were stopped there by uniformed guards. The pressure on the guards was great, so they called their superiors to find out what to do. They were given different instructions but could not stop the mob that wanted to cross the border. Since none of the party leaders wanted to give orders to use force, the crowd was finally allowed through. On the other side they were greeted by enthusiastic residents of West Berlin, with champagne and shouts. Residents from both sides of Berlin soon began to climb the wall and dance on it. Some soon brought hammers and chisels and began to pluck the wall and taking pieces as souvenirs. It is interesting that this day is not a holiday in Germany. This is because the infamous Crystal Night (Kristallnacht) occurred on the same day in 1938, during many Jews in Germany were attacked and their property vandalized.