University of Notre Dame

The Story of Notre Dame

America - Europe

A Transatlantic Diary 1961 - 1989

Klaus Lanzinger

South Bend, [Thursday], November 9, 1989

The Wall is Falling

The news spread here like wildfire this afternoon: The East German government announced that unrestricted entry and exit between the German Democratic Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany come into immediate effect. This practically means the end of the Berlin Wall. At first, it was incomprehensible, then one was moved by its historic significance, and finally, erupting in jubilation, the news took hold of both parts of Germany and the world.

November 10, 1989

Who would ever have thought that the Cold War would end with a dance on the Berlin Wall. Shortly before midnight jubilation erupted that has not ended until now. Thousands of people climbed on top of the Wall and had, like at a big New Year’s party, corks of champagne bottles pop into the air. Suddenly the dam had burst, an unswerving stream of people set in motion from East to West Berlin and flowed over the Kurfürstendamm. With astonishment, they looked at the Western part of the city from which they had been shut out for 28 years. They just were looking, frequently with tears in their eyes; they met relatives, West and East Berliners just embraced each other. They returned to the Eastern section of the city with the feeling that the division is over once and for all.

With hammer, chisel, pick axe, or even with bare hands, people tried to tear down the Wall, or to take with them a memento of its dark past. Television channels in America are reporting without pause about the events in Berlin. A wave of sympathy for the German people has been spreading in America. One hopes for a fast democratization of East Germany and assumes that reunification will follow as a matter of course.

November 12, 1989

On this historic weekend, about 3 million people have crossed the border from East to West Germany. Heartbreaking scenes of encounters occurred when families, who could not see each other for almost 30 years, met again. There could not have been a better demonstration that these people from East and West belong together. But most surprising is the fact that the Communist propaganda, which had incessantly pounded the population in East Germany for forty years, suddenly dissolved like a burst bubble into nothing.

South Bend, November 16, 1989

Lech Walesa before the U.S. Congress

Lech Walesa was greeted by a joint session of Congress with roaring applause. By his courageous course of action as leader of the independent Solidarity Trade Union, Walesa had overcome Communism in Poland. He is celebrated as hero of the liberation movement in Eastern Europe. It is for the first time in 165 years that a private person has been invited to speak before a joint session of Congress. Before Walesa, this honor was granted to Marquis de Lafayette, the hero of the American War of Independence, in 1824.

November 27, 1989

Prague 1989

How deep-seated the desire for freedom and democracy is in the Czechoslovak population becomes apparent these days. Hundreds of thousands are moving again to the Wenceslas Square in Prague. They are not to be satisfied until the present Communist regime resigns and free elections are guaranteed. The call for Alexander Dubcek is getting louder as if it were needed to catch up on what was crushed by brutal force in 1968.

November 28, 1989

10 Point Program for German Unity

Chancellor Helmut Kohl presented today to the Bundestag in Bonn a 10 point program for German unity. Accordingly, free democratic elections should be held in the German Democratic Republic, economic reforms started, and finally preparations made for reunification.

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