On the night of 9 November 1989, the Berlin Wall opened here first, at the Bornholmer Strasse bridge border-crossing between East Berlin and West Berlin.
28 years undone in a matter of hours
The city of Berlin was divided in two between 1961 and 1989 with a physical wall as the physical manifestation of East German (GDR/DDR) policy. Bornholmer Strasse was the northernmost of the seven road border-crossings between West and East Berlin. Only citizens of West Berlin and West Germany (FRG/BRD) could enter East Berlin at this crossing, whereas citizens of East Berlin and East Germany were forbidden from using the crossing into West Berlin.
On 9 November 1989, the East German government announced new travel regulations which were incorrectly stated at a news conference. But once word had gotten out East Berliners could travel “freely” across the “open border” into West Berlin without the onerous process of a travel visa, people gathered at various border crossings, including Bornholmer Strasse at around 8pm. Border guards began letting pedestrians and cars trickle across the border by 930pm. Guards at other road crossings also began letting people through. But hundreds gathered became thousands, and when it became clear no additional support was forthcoming to manage “control” of the border, border guards decided on their own initiative to open the gates wide open at around 1130pm to relieve mounting pressure and appease those who openly demanded free passage. Just after midnight, 20-thousand people had already crossed the Bornholmer Strasse bridge and the inner-German/intra-Berlin border. The Wall was effectively finished without a shot fired that night. All border controls ceased on 1 July 1990 (day of monetary union), and checkpoints were no longer manned on 3 October 1990 (German Reunification Day). .
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