Günter Schabowski has died today in Berlin aged 86. I still feel a prickle in my neck each time I see the clip from the press conference from 9 November 1989, on which he announced permissive travel regulations, talking haltingly about their “immediate effect” and thus provoking the fall of the Wall.
I was attending my social service on Langeoog then, a holiday island in the North Sea, being busy with cleaning a guest appartment the next morning, which had a tv set (I didn’t own one by myself). This is how I followed the unbelievable events all day long, without my boss noticing it.
Much later the Wend had a strong effect on my own family biography and -history – like for so many people in Germany.
Schabowski was the only former member of the SED-politburo, who later clearly distanced himself from the GDR and its political system and who declared himself morally guilty of the “Schiessbefehl” and of its victims, who had been killed while trying to leave the country.
The famous piece of paper, on which Schabowski is looking for verification here – broadcasted life on the GDR TV – , can be seen in the “House of the History of the Federal Republic of Germany” in Bonn today.