Monday, November 09, 2009

Gorbachev, when he knew it was the End

"I saw this myself. On October 7, 1989, I was reviewing a parade in East Germany with Honecker and other representatives of the Warsaw Pact countries. Groups from twenty-eight different regions of East Germany were marching by with torches, slogans on banners, shouts and songs. The former prime minister of Poland, Mieczyslaw Rakowski, asked me if I understood German. "Enough to read what's written on the banners. They're talking about perestroika. They're talking about democracy and change. They're saying, 'Gorbachev, stay in our country!'" Then Rakowski remarked, "If it's true that these are representatives of people from twenty-eight regions of the country, it means the end." I said, "I think you're right."
-Mikhail Gorbachev.

This was a really memorable moment, if you've ever seen the tapes. Gorbachev, one of the great leaders of the twentieth century, is standing there with Erich Honecker, one of the lousiest, at what is supposed to be a rally for the East German Communist Party. But the crowd is chanting "Gorby! Gorby! Gorby!" and the message is clear. Honecker looks like a man who just walked in on his wife having sex with the plumber and hasn't quite comprehended it yet. But, indeed, it was the end.

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