Full Citation

  • Title A million march to freedom
  • Author Millar, Peter Ellis, Richard
  • Publication Title The Sunday Times
  • Collection The Sunday Times Digital Archive, 1822-2006
  • Date Sunday,  Nov. 12, 1989
  • Issue Number 8622
  • Page Number [1]
  • Place of Publication London, England
  • Language English
  • Document Type Article
  • Publication Section News
  • Source Library Times Newspapers Limited
  • Copyright Statement © Times Newspapers Limited.
But Krenz and Kohl warn: don't expect a united Germany just yet MORE than lm Germans from East and West held the world's biggest non-stop party in Berlin yesterday, as their sober leaders tried in vain to dampen the euphoria by warn - ing that a united Germany was not yet on the political agenda. East Berliners poured into West Berlin to celebrate their liberty on free beer and wine, and late last night one 24 - year - old visitor from the East gave birth to a baby girl on one of the city's bustling streets, to the delight of the partying crowds. The new life seemed sym - bolic . Berlin was itself a city reborn. The party clogged the streets as the barriers that di - vided Germany melted like the ice of the cold war. Of - ficials said well over a million people had passed the fron - tiers from East Germany into West Berlin and West Ger - man y in a matter of hours. After nightfall, as the party proved unstoppable, police shut off traffic from several main streets, and sealed off the Wall at the Brandenburg Gate to prevent demonstrators from dancing on it West Ber - lin police said they were in constant touch with their East German colleagues on the other side of the Wall. Tension gave way to heated but good-natured banter be - tween West Berliners and the normally sullen East German guards standing on the Wall. "I'm not here talking to you because I have to or because I've been told to," one police - man said. "I'm here because I want to [be]." "What 's you name, what's your name?" shouted the crowd. ~Call me Karl-Heinz ," he answered . "Tell me, what will happen when there's no more use for the wall?" he was asked. "Well , if it goes that far, I suppose we'll get to know each other." Along the Kurfursten - damm , tens of thousands of East and West Berliners linked arms to sing songs celebrating their newly gained solidarity. To the tune of Glory Glory Hallelujah, they chorused Ber - lin ist ein Stadt, Deutschland ist ein Land (Berlin is one city, Germany is one country). As they sang, people held up cigarette lighters, matches ,, candles and sparklers to dem - onstrate their feelings. For the benefit of American television crews, there were songs even in English: "We shall overcome" and "This land is my land." Street poets regaled the crowds with jokes aud verses that concentrated on the col - lapse of the Berlin Wall. Die Mauer, as the wall is known in German, is in two, said one, but no longer is Berlin. Sales of beer and cham - pagne soared as East Berliners continued to come over to the West to join the festivities, and traffic in West Berlin was at a standstill. For some East Germans back home, the overnight col - lapse of a lifetime's ideals proved too much. Com - munist party bosses in the towns of Bautzen, Kothen and Perleburg committed suicide. The communists published details yesterday of their new reform programme in the of - ficial press. It proposed free elections, independent courts, economic reform, a more liberal press, autonomous trade unions and scrutiny of the feared security forces. But it did not question the party's monopoly of power, and the proposals were vague on how far-reaching economic change and democracy would be. The Berliner Zeitung news - paper of the Communist party in the capital commented cau - tiously that the planned re - forms could create real dem - ocracy only "if they can be put into practice". Noting that the proposal had to be debated before going to an emergency party con - ference set for December 15 - 17 , the paper said: "It won't quieten down between now and the It was after a telephone conversation between East Berlin and Bonn that Presi - dent Egon Krenz and Chan - cellor Helmut Kohl tried to cool the party mood. Krenz said that German reunifica - tion was "not up for dis - cussion ", and Kohl told a press conference: "We are still a long way from our goal." Kohl said they had agreed to meet , probably before the end of the year, to discuss the im - plications of Thursday's de - cision to reopen their com mon frontier after 28 years. He indicated that he wanted to give East Germany time to ab - sorb the impact of recent events before discussing con - crete proposals. "We are ready to offer what - ever help will benefit the people," he said. But that help could be effective only if East Germany's planned economy was replaced by what he called a socially responsible market system. He wanted free elec - tions , independent political parties, free trade unions and a free press in East Germany, and said the Communist party should "open the gate for a thorough change in state, economy and society". Kohl promised support for moves towards freedom and democracy that would encour - age East Germans to stay at home. The message was clear: nobody wants to depopulate any part of a Germany that is daily closer to human, if not yet political, unity. Krenz, interviewed by East German television, said Kohl had mentioned his constitu - tional commitment to unity, but added: "That 's his busi - ness . Mine is to do what I can to represent the interests of the citizens of the German Demo - cratic Republic." The superficial goal of Krenz's policy has been ach - ieved . As of yesterday morn - ing — for the first time in two months — not one East Ger - man refugee crossed the Hun - garian - Austrian border, where the exodus began. The stream through Czechoslovakia is now a trickle. But the top item on the agenda when Kohl and Krenz meet will be the de - mand that Bonn recognises separate East German citizen - ship . That would require a constitutional reform unlikely to be voted through now unity seems closer than ever. As the two leaders spoke, young people from the West tried to speed up history by ripping down part of the wall Continued on page 2 by Peter Millar and Richard Ellis in Berlin New gateway to the West: jubilant crowds pour through a fresh gap in the Berlin Wall, opened by bulldozers in Bernauer Strasse to ease the crush for thousands of East German sightseers yesterday Berlin hosts world's biggest non-stop party the symbol of division, not just of Berlin but of the Euro - pean continent East German border guards dispersed the crowds with water cannon and rebuilt it But elsewhere, parts of the wall were coming down of - , ficially and for good. In East Berlin, concrete blocks were being removed from the en - trance to an underground sta - tion . For the past 28 years trains from West Berlin have trundled without stopping through unlit stations beneath the eastern half of the city. Now they will carry East Ber - lin passengers to the West. The first new border cross - ing point came into use just after dawn after a night of activity by workmen with ^bulldozers . East Berliners filed on foot from Bernauer Strasse into the West This had been the scene of some of the most dramatic and emotional events of Au - gust 1961 when the wall was built — East Berliners drop - ping from upper storey win - dows while troops bricked up their front doors. Several died. On Fotsdamer Platz, once the Piccadilly Circus of the German empire and a hun - dred yards from the unmarked underground site of Hitler's bunker , the bulldozers were creating a crossing to be opened this morning. Elsewhere, official teams were knocking down the wall to create 18 new crossing points. At one new site, East Berlin engineers shook hands with their western counter - parts through the gap they had created in the six-inch thick, steel-reinforced concrete. Tourists watched in amaze - ment their cameras recording the historic moments. One American borrowed a ham - mer from a Berliner and told his wife: "Get one of me hit - ting the wall, honey." Every small piece chipped off was seized as a souvenir. At one partly-destroyed sec - tion near the Tiergarten, young West Berliners sold chunks of the wall for DM10. In the gift shops, newly printed T-shirts were selling well, the most popular bearing the slogan "Der Letzte Macht Das Licht Aus!" (the last one turns out the light). West Berlin banks stayed open all day to distribute the once-a-year payment of DM100 (£35) made by the Bonn government to East Ger - man visitors. Queues stret - ched for hundreds of yards on the streets as the banks handed over the money. Department stores, which normally close at 2pm on Sat - urdays , were staying open late in all areas near the border. There was also talk of Sunday shopping. In spite of an ex - change rate in the West of 10-1 and falling, some Berlin bar - keepers were accepting East German currency at parity. Even then, a beer in West Ber - lin was almost three times as expensive as in the East Along the Kurfustendamm, West Berlin's most fashion - able street, the window - shop - ping visitors strolled in their thousands. Most were daytrippers, dis - coverin g the mystery of the West ^siting relatives, or just proyiut to themselves that the barriers that had once impris - oned them were no longer there. The scale of what had hap - pened over the previous 36 hours still stunned them. "I just cannot believe it" one young man shouted to nobody in particular. "Are we free, or is this a dream?" Additional reporting by Walter Ellis in Bonn. GridlocfcBerfa' sl7to July Strasse, from tlwBnuriOTbn^