Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

November 9, 1989 The Fall of the Wall

Twenty years ago tomorrow, and I still hold my breath in wonder.


I was doing a very untypical thing for me – I was headed for the Czech border with three military-wife friends, to buy crystal. There was an unusual amount of traffic, all coming from the border, and the cars – not the normal beautiful cars you find on the German autobahns, but the fiberglass cars coming out of the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc – miles and miles and miles on end, all headed West.

When it happened, we didn’t have a clue. There had been rising signs of unrest in the East, but that happens, and has always been ruthlessly put down.

The US had been in Germany forty years. In the most recent years, all the posts and all the military housing had undergone significant updatings – significant and expensive. If you asked anyone about the possibility of the wall coming down (Berlin Wall, for those of you who were not alive) they would just laugh.

“We’ll be here forever,” they would say.

So too, would Germans say.

“We’ve been divided for too long. We think differently,” they would say “We could never be re-united.”

In one joyful night, that all changed. As we reached our stop and went for dinner in our Gasthaus, the television showed the cars flowing over the borders, and the young dancing on the wall in Berlin. It was one of those rare occasions when the world held it’s breath in wonder and amazement; we did not know this was a possibility. Such joy!

Germany has struggled to make the reunification work. Even now, in the west, Germans will gripe about how all their tax monies are going to the east, and those from the east are taking their jobs, but in essence, the reunification has been a success, and the greater Germany is an amazing fact-of-life I never thought I would see in my life.

I still celebrate November 9th in my heart. Twenty years! It seems like yesterday.

November 8, 2009 - Posted by | Adventure, Cultural, ExPat Life, Generational, Germany, Living Conditions, Political Issues


  1. Hi intlxpatr!
    See my last year’s posting


    Comment by Fahad | November 8, 2009 | Reply

  2. Great post, Fahad. I got a good laugh; I found out I also blogged about it two or three years ago: We Never Saw it Coming.

    Comment by intlxpatr | November 8, 2009 | Reply

  3. Deutschland…Deutschland…Deutschland…

    Comment by daggero | November 8, 2009 | Reply

  4. like the post!

    Comment by khalid | November 9, 2009 | Reply

  5. 🙂

    Comment by intlxpatr | November 9, 2009 | Reply

  6. They sell crystal meth at the Czech border? 😛
    I remember a tv report at that time which showed East Germans happy that they could buy new electronics items and household stuff more freely.

    Comment by Mathai | November 10, 2009 | Reply

  7. You cannot imagine what it was like before the wall came down, how rigidly controlled everything was. And how poor so many things were, other than electronics. True story, I had a friend who was taking a VIP on a tour over on the East side and she took him to the optics/camera store (they had very very fine optics.) When the man saw the prices, he said “oh my God, look at those prices,” and he had a heart attack (the prices were unbelievably low. I’ve never forgotten. How would you like your last words to be “Look at those prices?”????

    Comment by intlxpatr | November 10, 2009 | Reply

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