Thirty Years of Stalemate
The Berlin Wall remained until the end of the Cold War. In 1989, Poland refused to endure the Russian occupation any longer, Hungary defied the Soviets by opening its border with Austria and Czechoslovakia followed. More than 13,000 East German “tourists” escaped. Mass demonstrations erupted throughout East Germany, mostly people chanting "Wir wollen raus!" ("We want out!").
On November 4, a half-million East Berliners gathered, demanding freedom. On November 9, the East German government announced anyone could leave – but their East German citizenship would be revoked and they could never return home. The new regulations were to take effect the next day. Word spread like wildfire. Vast crowds of East Germans began gathering at the Berlin Wall, demanding that border guards immediately open the gates a day early. The surprised and overwhelmed sentries made many hectic telephone calls to their superiors. Finally, at 10:45 p.m., Commander Harald Jäger allowed the guards to open the checkpoints. As East Berliners swarmed through, they were greeted by a vast crowd of West Berliners waiting with flowers and champagne amid wild rejoicing.