World Freedom Day
34 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall
At the time of November 9th, I was a student at the University of Leipzig, we were always at the Monday demonstrations, and on the evening of November 9th, 1989, we were sitting in the student dormitory with three other girls and had the radio on while we ate dinner and that's where we heard the first reports that the wall was being opened in Berlin, and we all looked at each other and said, "Yeah, maybe that's just for tonight. We'll see what it looks like tomorrow."
We didn't expect it to last. We thought that it would actually only mean a short-term opening or freedom of travel for people. We all went to sleep that evening, and when we turned the radio on again the next morning, we heard all the reports from people who had crossed the border overnight or sat on the wall or torn down pieces of the wall, and so on. At that moment it was clear that the world had changed overnight, it was a Friday.
I then went home and made my plans for that evening on the train. I was on the train home with complete strangers. Everyone made plans, everyone talked to each other, and everyone had a plan for what they wanted to do now. I sat with someone who somehow had a map of Berlin, those were unattainable on the other side.
And then I looked on the map where my friends live and found out that they live near Charlottenburg Palace. When I got home I said “Okay, Mom, I want to take the Trabant now” and then I took the car and drove it across the border in Berlin around 11 o’clock at night with a big group of other people. There I visited friends in the other part of Berlin that I had met but had never been allowed to visit.
This event, this tour that I took, is still very formative to this day. I can still remember clearly when I drove over the bridge on Invalidenstrasse, near Checkpoint Charlie, and followed a complete stranger because I didn't have a map of Berlin. I had told her where I wanted to go and she said “just follow me”. So I sat there alone in my Trabant and then tried to follow the woman. I still remember when I drove over a small bridge where people were excited because they saw that my license plate wasn't here from Berlin. At midnight I stood at the door of my friends with whom I went out on the street and celebrated.
This feeling of freedom, these possibilities, this madness of this day, you can't describe it. At the beginning we thought, this can't be real, that's not possible, and from then on everything happened pretty quickly, developments in the former GDR.