Monday, November 09, 2009

CBC Archives: Berlin Wall Falls, 1989

CBC News relates the "astonishing news" from East Germany in November, 1989. It's important to remember that absolutely nobody in the West saw this coming when it did. I remember reading articles from that summer about the next decade of the Cold War. Two things strike me today, looking back:

1. Again, it's hard to overstate the remarkable prescience of Mikhail Gorbachev. He accurately responded to the wishes of his people with the perestroika and glasnost reforms in a state in which the wishes of the people generally did not get to the top. What's really amazing, however, is that he read the tea leaves correctly in 1989 and did exactly the right things to navigate a radical revolution without unleashing massive bloodshed. Especially when you compare him to Honecker or Ceauşescu, it's his humility that astounds. His world was ending, and he took steps to ensure that it ended as peacefully as possible.

2. I don't really think the true import of the end of the Soviet Bloc has sunk in even today. There's still a sense that we don't yet get what happened.

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