Saturday, November 9, 2019

For World Freedom Day, Vox and DW News look back at the fall of the Berlin Wall


Happy World Freedom Day!
World Freedom Day on November 9th each year commemorates the fall of the Berlin Wall. This historic event signified the end of communism in Central and Eastern Europe.
Yes, the date of the fall of the Berlin Wall is an actual holiday.  From National Day Calendar.
In 2001, President George Bush proclaimed November 9th as World Freedom Day. The day is a United States Federal observance. Since 2001, each president since George Bush has proclaimed November 9th as World Freedom Day.
National Day Calendar's description even echoes my observation that "the maintenance and expansion of democracy and liberty require constant effort and vigilance; progress will not happen by itself."
Around the world, people’s freedom is still threatened. Many seek to control entire populations. Tyrants threaten violence or manipulate the financial sectors. Whether through political, social, violent pressures, these dictators still exists (sic). This day recognizes the need to continue striving for freedom for everyone.
Looks like I may have added a holiday to the ones I already observe on this blog.

Speaking of adding things, I told my readers to "stay tuned" this morning, as "I plan on posting one more entry on the subject focusing on the key decision by East German politicians, which East German bureaucrats amplified by mishandling it, at least from the perspective of the politicians.  The East German people had other ideas about its implementation."  Follow over the jump for videos from Vox and DW News on the events of 30 years ago today.

Vox explains what I wrote above the jump in The mistake that toppled the Berlin Wall.

One of the Cold War's biggest moments began at a routine press conference.
...
The fall of the Berlin Wall has a lot of memorable moments: US President Ronald Reagan’s declaration to “tear down this wall”; David Hasselhoff singing at the Brandenburg Gate; and Berliners wielding pickaxes and hammers, tearing apart the visible symbol of a divided Europe.

But a less spectacular moment actually triggered the crumbling of the wall. It happened at a routine press conference on November 9th, 1989, when East German spokesperson G√ľnter Schabowski was handed an announcement about relaxed travel regulations. In his lack of preparation, he mistakenly insinuated that the checkpoints in the Berlin Wall — which up until then were guarded by soldiers with orders to shoot anyone trying to cross — were now open. They weren’t, but that announcement was all East Berliners needed to storm the wall and demand they be allowed to cross into West Berlin. After that, the wall became obsolete, and soon fell.
Vox analyzed the situation, while DW News posted a compilation of news from the day showing how the decision and the flubbing of its announcement played out in real time.  Watch What happened the day the Berlin Wall fell?

A look at the fall of the Berlin Wall through the broadcasts of one West Berlin newsroom. Before RIAS TV was incorporated into Deutsche Welle, it served audiences on both sides of the wall that separated East and West Germany. Starting on the morning of November, 9 1989, the RIAS TV newsroom documented the growing crisis in the GDR alongside the GDR lotto numbers. It was an ordinary newsday mixed with escalation. Until finally the wall opened up ... and the party started.

We invited five RIAS TV journalists to revist their role in reporting the day's events as they unfolded, and with the perspective of thirty years' behind them, it's not what you'd expect.
One can still sense the emotions of the moment and the week afterwards.

Once again, Happy World Freedom Day!  I plan on following up on my promise to cover this year's edition of the Critics' Choice Documentary Awards that I made in 'I Am Not Your Negro' wins Outstanding Arts & Culture Documentary at the News & Documentary Emmy Awards.  Stay tuned.

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