Full Citation

  • Title 100,000 take a walk into the West
  • Author Johnson, Daniel
  • Publication Title The Daily Telegraph
  • Collection The Daily Telegraph
  • Date Saturday,  Nov. 11, 1989
  • Issue Number 41799
  • Page Number [1]
  • Place of Publication London, England
  • Language English
  • Document Type Article
  • Publication Section News
  • Source Library Telegraph Media Group
  • Copyright Statement © Telegraph Media Group Limited.
100,000 take a walk into the West Pi STEPHEN LOC , ' Scaling the divide: Watched by East German border guards hundreds of West Germans form a human chain straddling the Berlin Wall near the Brandenburg Gate yesterday Bulldozers herald Krenz 'revolution' By Daniel Johnson in East Berlin EAST GERMAN soldiers began bulldozing sections of the Berlin Wall to create new crossing points last night as Chancellor Kohl of West Germany made a call for a "free, united Germany" to 20,000 East and West Berliners gathered outside the Rathaus Schoneberg in West Berlin. East Berlin residents cheered as demolition work began on the first of 18 new crossing points, at Eberswaldestrasse, a stone's throw from where police brutally assaulted demonstrators only a month ago. Some took pieces as souvenirs. Three ordinary East Berliners had earlier begun attacking the concrete with mallets and their bare hands. The new crossings include the Glienecker Bridge, famed as a venue for spy swaps, and Potsdamerplatz, once Europe's biggest intersection. The bridge opened last night and the Eberswalde crossing was to open early today. Herr Egon Krenz, East Germany's kader, told tens of thousands of Communists at an open-air rally in the centre of East Berlin last night that the new travel laws were proof "we are serious about reforms". His decision to open new crossing points came after a day in which 100,000 East Berliners had flooded into West Berlin, together with tens of thousands of East Germans along the border between . the two Germanies. The East German Communist party Central Committee also unveiled a package of reforms — promised on Wednesday — which included free elections, liberalisation of the economy and parliamentary scrutiny ofthe security forces. The "action programme", announced after a three-day Central Committee session, is to be discussed by party members and others across the country before approval. Herr Krenz told the rally that the new travel laws were "measures in the interest of human beings and nobody should abuse them against human beings". The reform programme was "a revolution on German soil". He spoke of "this sensitive border" and added: "We are ready to live peacefully as good neighbours." Speaker after speaker begged him to continue and accelerate the process of reform. The East German opposition group New Forum gathered at the Gethsemane Church to call for free elections and legal reform. The new Berlin Wall checkpoints— which will ease severe congestion which followed Thursday's opening of East Germany's borders — were reported to Dr Kohl's rally in West Berlin by Bonn's Foreign Minister, Herr Hans-Dietrich Genscher, who flew back from Warsaw yesterday with Dr Kohl. At present there are nine road crossings and one rail crossing at the Berlin Wall. Only one of these is a military crossing — Checkpoint Charlie. Amid a mixture of applause and whistling from hostile Leftwing radicals which drowned meet within hours the singing of the German national anthem, Dr Kohl told the rally: "We are, and will remain, one nation and we belong together. "Today is a great day in the history of this city and in the history of Germany." Appealing to the East German Communist leadership to hold free elections as quickly as possible, he addressed himself to Hen* Krenz, whom he hoped to er. thi W,esr,GermaWn "Renounce your monopoly of But Dr Kohl also had a word of gratitude for President Gorbachev, who had promised him in Bonn last June that the Soviet Union would respect the right to Chancellor implored the East German leader, adding that Bonn would be ready to give financial support to a democratic East Germany. Dr Kohl thanked the Western Allies for their role in preserving West Berlin's independence for over 40 years. "Without their perseverance, we should not have lived to see this day." East Berlin's Herr Krenz: 'Revolution on our soil' self-determination of all nations, including the Germans. Dr Kohl concluded: "Long live a free, united Germany. Long live a free, united Europe." Mrs Thatcher spoke to Dr Kohl for 20 minutes last night when he telephoned her after his visit to Berlin to brief her on his trip to Poland. Mrs Thatcher described the events in East Berlin as "a great <*ay for freedom" and said the events she witnessed on television were "the most historic I haveeverseen". Both agreed there should be genuine democracy established in East Germany, along the lines of a multi-party pluralist State. They also acknowledged the need for a "calm" response, according to Whitehall sources. The two leaders are hoping to meet for talks before next month's meeting of European Community heads of government in Strasbourg. Earlier, Herr Genscher sought to reassure Germany's neighbours that a reunified State would poseno threat German authorities able to experience the liberty of In Moscow, Mr Gennady Gerasimov, the Soviet Foreign Ministry spokesman, praised East Germany's decision to allow its citizens free travel to the West. But the elimination of the border between the two Germanies would not be tolerated, he said. Scores of thousands of jubilant East Berliners passed to and fro through checkpoints along the Berlin Wall yesterday, virtually unhindered by the East crossing the Wall without visas, East German officials continued l° allow Ea,st Berliners to leave after merely showing identity cards or passports. Most East Berliners were issued with six-month multipleentry visas, while West Berliners had to revert to obtaining the usual daily visas. The situation at all checkpoints was chaotic, with huge queues of pedestrians and cars building up in both directions. While the great majority of East Berliners appeared to be returning after only brief visits, it was still unclear how many Continued on Back Page East Berlin's Krenz hails his revolution Continued from Pi would decide to remain in the West. One woman said: "I am afraid they [the East German government] will reverse all this. They have let us down before." Hundreds of citizens from both sides of the Wall met in the early hours yesterday under the Brandenburg Gate, the symbolic monument on Unter den Linden near the Wall — despite the absence of any checkpoint there. Later the East German border guards fenced off the Gate as West Berliners sat on the Wall and watched. Dr Kohl had interrupted his visit to Poland to go to West Berlin in the late afternoon to address the rally. The governing mayor of West Berlin, Herr Walter Momper, declared that "the Eastern bloc no longer exists from today" and called for the Olympic Games to be held jointly with East Berlin in 15 years. Herr Willy Brandt, the former West German Chancellor who was governing mayor of the divided city in 1961, when the Wall was build, spoke about German unification on his arrival. "We are not at the end of the road yet but we have taken a huge step towards it today," Herr Brandt, 76, declared. Before the rally, at an emergency session of West Berlin's House of Representatives, Dr Kohl and many other West German federal ministers reinforced the Federal Republic's claim to Berlin by their presence. They witnessed catcalls and party conflicts over German reunification before the^House passed a resolution welcoming the end of the Berlin Wall and calling for freedom and unity for all Germans. Both the ruling Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats in West Berlin claimed the credit for the new freedom in East Germany. Social Democrats paid tribute to Herr Brandt's policy of Ostpolitik and detente, which they argued had led to the dramatic changes in East Germany. In East Berlin, the historic meeting of the Central Committee of the Communist Socialist Unity party ended with the resignation of four new hard-line members and candidate members of the 17-man Politburo, only two days after their election. Their departure appeared to be the result of a complete loss of confidence by their local parties in these former associates of the deposed leader, Herr Erich Honecker. The meeting heard the East German Prosecutor-General, Herr Gunter Wendland, call for a parliamentary commission to investigate corruption ■ '"pii »>mm, ii''i«|gi wp '"jti Hiiii p ^%4^# Hundreds of East Berliners pour into the western part of the city after citizens opened a gate away from official crossing points yesterday, while at the Brandenburg Gate (right), crowds celebrate by climbing on top of the wall