What is all that, Iron Curtain, Berlin Wall, Czech Velvet Revolution? What happened in 1989?A very brief account of the struggle for freedom
The iron curtain had been separating the east and the westof Europe for decades. Politicians of the communist regimeswere afraid that people emigrate to the West in largenumbers.For travelling into West Germany after 1961 East Germansbelow 65 had to take considerable bureaucratic hurdles, formany it was simply not possible. Usually only those whoagreed to collaborate with the regime as spies were allowedto travel to the West.
Spring 1989 - Iron curtain opened in Hungary, as the Communist Party no longer ruled thecountry: border to Austria open from May onwards, Hungary allows many East-Germans(=people from German Democratic Republic) to travel to West-Germany
Change was in the air all over. A certain movement towards reforms was noticeable in severalstates, particularly in Czechoslovakia, Poland and Hungary. This went along with MichailGorbatschow - then president of the Soviet Union - introducing new politics, for example did heannounce disarmament and allowed far-reaching political changes to take place.He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1990. The increasing atmosphere of crisis in East Germany from 1980 onwards made many people have serious scepticism towards their system. Gorbatschow caused new hope among East Germans, the more adventurous try to leave the country in ever rising numbers.
Ever more people take to the streets to express their discontent: Monday demonstrations takeplace in many cities, an enormous wave of protest goes along with the celebrations of 40 yearsof GDR (=East German state under communist rule).
October 17, 1989: A huge peaceful demonstration in Berlin
In October 1989 up until 3500 East Germans = GDR-citizens are able to enter the WestGerman embassy in Prague - they want to travel to the West, 17 000 in total are allowed toemigrate after negotiations with the West.
Many tears of happiness were shed by people meeting again after having been separated for decades!
East Germans entering West Germany via Czech Republic and Hungary, later on directly
November 9th, 1989: People all over Eastern Europe witness the Fall of the German WallPoland already had a government with a non-communist head then,three days later in Bulgaria the communist party government was overthrown with its leadermore than three decades in office.
VELVET REVOLUTION1st students’ demonstration in Bratislava: November 16, 1989
There was another huge student demonstration in Prague the next day with more than 15.000people participating.As about 600 people were injured by security forces there was a wave of protest and strikes,Prague theatres’ actors joined the strike soon – these were, as we know, the beginnings ofVelvet Revolution.
December 5, barbed wire fences between Austria andCzech Republic are cut
Later in December, 1989: Cutting of fences between Germany and Czech Republic
So what we are experiencing todayis the freedom our parents’ generation fought for. We have been taking it for granted since the Nineties,let’s do our best to make the most of it! Let’s find out more until March!