XVII. Breakup of the Soviet Union into
The Soviet Union's collapse into independent nations began early in
For years thay had spent TOO much on their military (Army) and not enough on helping
people at home develop good businesses and jobs.
The government tried to make changes, but they failed because they were not willing to give
up control of business to the people.
Discontent (unhappiness) , especiallyEastern Europe (Poland East Germany, and other
Greater political and social freedoms, instituted by the last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev,
created an atmosphere of open criticism of the Moscow regime. The dramatic drop of the
price of oil in 1985 and 1986, and consequent lack of money in following years to purchase
grain profoundly influenced actions of the Soviet leadership. (You see, they made LOTS of
the money for their givernment by selloing oil around the world.)
Several Soviet Socialist Republics (Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, etc.) began resisting central
control, and increasing democratization led to a weakening of the central government in
Countries formerly controlled by Soviet Union claimed their independence
XVIII. Fall Of The Berlin Wall
On August 23, 1989, Hungary removed its physical border defenses with Austria, and in
September more than 13,000 East German tourists in Hungary escaped to Austria.
The Hungarians prevented many more East Germans from crossing the border and
returned them to Budapest. These East Germans flooded the West German embassy
and refused to return to East Germany.
This triggered a similar incident in neighboring Czechoslovakia. On this occasion, the
East German authorities allowed them to leave, providing that they used a train which
transited East Germany on the way. This was followed by mass demonstrations within
East Germany itself.
The longtime leader of East Germany, Erich Honecker, resigned on October 18, 1989,
and was replaced by Egon Krenz a few days later.
Protest demonstrations broke out all over East Germany in September 1989. Initially,
they were of people wanting to leave to the West, chanting "Wir wollen raus!" ("We
This was the start of what East Germans generally call the "Peaceful Revolution" of late
By November 4, the protests had grown HUGE, with half a million people gathered that
day at the Alexanderplatz demonstration in East Berlin .
Meanwhile the wave of refugees leaving East Germany for the West had increased and
had found its way through Czechoslovakia. This was happening in November, 1989.
On November 9th
, 1989 a West German television channel broadcast news of these
changes. An announcer said: "This ninth of November is a historic day." "East Germany
has announced that, starting immediately, its borders are open to everyone."
After hearing the broadcast, East Germans began gathering at the wall, demanding that
border guards immediately open its gates.
The surprised and overwhelmed guards made many paniced telephone calls to their
bosses, but it became clear that there was no one among the East German leaders
wanted to be the one to give orders to shoot at their own people.
Soooo, there was no way for the HUGELY outnumbered soldiers to hold back the huge
crowd of East German citizens.
In face of the growing crowd, the guards finally gave up, opening the checkpoint gates
and allowing people through with little or no identity checking.
VERY HAPPY East Berliners were soon greeted by West Berliners on the other side in a
November 9, 1989, is thus considered
the date the Wall fell. In the days and weeks that followed,
people came to the wall with sledgehammers to chip off souvenirs, demolishing lengthy
parts of it in the process
On June 13, 1990, the official dismantling of the Wall by the East German military
began in Bernauer Straße. On July 1, the day East Germany adopted the West German
currency, all border controls ceased, although the inter-German border had become
meaningless for some time before that.