Publication: Financial Times

Full Citation

  • Title Euphoric East Berliners Celebrate Their New Freedom
  • Author David Goodhart Reports
  • Publication Title Financial Times
  • Collection The Financial Times
  • Date Friday,  Nov. 10, 1989
  • Issue Number 30,995
  • Page Number 2
  • Place of Publication London, England
  • Language English
  • Document Type Article
  • Publication Section News
  • Source Library The Financial Times Limited
  • Copyright Statement © The Financial Times Limited. All rights reserved.
Euphoric East Berliners celebrate their new freedom Citizens crossed the Wall for some chamoagne. and even the Dolice eot drunk. David Goodhart reoorts 1 HORTLY before 11pm last night the Berlin Wall after 28 years, finally openea. Berlin saw bizarre scenes, historic scenes. People were jubilant. After the evening announcement that all East German citizens could cross the border with a minimum of bureaucracy and paper work, thou- sands of East Berliners flocked to the main crossing points in the city. The atmosphere in the streets was euphoric, Intoxicating. At first it turned out to be more complicated than people had thought. They needed a visa and stamp from an office in Alexanderplatz, and even then it was not certain they could return without difficulty. But later in the evening even these obstacles were brushed away. Nor- mally stern police at Checkpoint Charlie, the main crossing point, announced to a cheering crowd that all they needed was their personal identity card and then they could come and go over the border bor a short or as long a time as they wished. By 11pm there was a crowd of about 400 at Checkpoint Charlie on the east ern side and a group of two or three hundred West Berliners cheering them on from the other side. Most of the two or three thousaMb East Berliners travelling over the boy der last night seemed to be metely celebrating their extraordinary new ireedom. They planned to come back at least for a little while. One student, typical of many, aid he was just going over to drink charm- pagne in Kreuzburg and would be coming back at dam or 7am. The policemen were in the main fiendly and co-operative and unusu- ally chatty. One said if he had had his , s ·s ,».,rrr 4-i«1 . i>4 4 xi i ,.J 1 one long ago. .In Aladrpat I even saw two hopelsly drunik uniformed police- men reeling across the square. The excitement will continue today. Renter adds: East German televi- sion said it was flooded with calls from excited viewers about the open- of the country's border. It broke on African elephant huting wrwomen's fashion and cul- tural assues to read the statement on the new travel rules. Curious East Germans flocked to crossing points at the Berlin Wall and Spased through simply by show- their identity cards. West German E n showed East Germans in tears as they crossed over to the West and then returned to the East just to see If it was possible. At ornholmerstrasse crossina point, border police just gave up in the face of the throng and let every- body through to the West without checking, and first aid teams were on hand to help some people who fainted with emotion. On the West Berlin side, crowds shot off fireworks and clapped as the East Berliners surged through. On the western side of Checkpoint Charlie, hundreds of curious West Berliners gathered to watch, but East German cars turning up at the other side were being turned away. A bumper-to-bumper double row of cars 300 yards long crept forward at the Heinrich-Heine-Strasee crossing. Their passengers waited with excitement as they got closer and closer to the open border. Dozens of people were sitting on top of the Berlin Wall and good-humoured East German border guards made no attempt to remove them or break up the bedlam at the post. Jens Richter, who pushed through the tumult from the East, trembled with emotion as he waved the blue Identity document which for the first time guaranteed him clear passage across the Iron Curtain. "I never thought I would ever touch West German soil," he said. '"There is absolute madness on the East German side." At Checkpoint Charlie dozens of West Berliners trampled over the white demarcation line dividing the city, effectively crossing into the East. Groups of people held aloft bottles of beer and champagne and climbed up scaffolding to get a better view of the bewildering scenes. The crowds chanted for East Ger- mans to come over to the West.