[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 November, 2004, 13:28 GMT
Press reflects on Berlin Wall
East German Trabant car in central Berlin
Symbols of united Berlin: A Trabant car and Brandenburg Gate

European papers recall the euphoria in Germany on 9 November 1989 when the Berlin Wall fell, but many remark that the unity symbolised by the event is still a long time coming.

"It was like a champagne cork popping", Germany's Der Tagesspiegel remembers.

Germans were witnesses to a "historic moment in which everything was open and everything seemed possible."

The emotions aroused by the fall of the Wall were much stronger than those marking 3 October, the anniversary of Germany's unification, or 13 August, the day the Wall was built, the paper notes.

"The date 9 November 1989 stands for courage, curiosity, a new beginning and the joy of being alive," it says.

GDR doomed

Sueddeutsche Zeitung recalls the legendary press conference given by East German politburo member Guenter Schabowski 15 years ago on that fateful evening.

"All he wanted to do was announce a new travel regulation," the paper says, "and instead he sounded the death knell for the GDR".

Asked when the new regulation would come into effect, Schabowski had hesitated before replying uncertainly, "with immediate effect".

"History sometimes strays from the straight and narrow," the paper says, "but seldom has a chain of misunderstandings led to such a happy outcome."

"Every German has his own very personal memories of 9 November 1989," writes the Berliner Zeitung in a special edition to mark the anniversary.

"They are sure to know when they first heard about the opening of the Wall on that day, whether they believed it was true, and how they spent that evening.

"It was a day when history was made."


Germany's European neighbours also remember the event which, says Spain's El Pais, "brought freedom and democracy to many millions of Europeans".

However, the paper draws on topical events to argue that real unity - still lacking in Germany - has yet to arrive in many areas of European policy too.

"Fifteen years after the fall of the Wall and in the wake of the Iraq war crisis," the paper says, "the European Union urgently needs a common defence policy - not against the United States, but because it must learn to rely on its own strength."

In Switzerland, the Tribune de Geneve is not so sure if - as it puts it - "the winds of history are blowing favourably" on the anniversary celebrations.

"Has the Wall really fallen?" it asks, citing a recent opinion poll showing that one-third of Germans do not even know the date of the event.

The paper points out that the neo-communist PDS party is achieving what it calls "spectacular success" in regional elections in the east.

"Shows devoted to the 'good old days' of the German Democratic Republic are proving smash hits, and the same applies to the market in goods which it used to produce," the paper says.

Last September, the paper recalls, at the height of the protests against Chancellor Schroeder's neo-liberal reforms, a poll showed 17% of east Germans believing that the Wall should never have come down."

In the Czech Republic, the daily Mlada Fronta Dnes welcomes the anniversary of the fall of what it calls "that barbaric monstrosity".

"But there is no dignified monument to commemorate the victims of the unified capital," the paper says.

"Are the Germans building their common democratic state as enthusiastically as they opened up the Wall 15 years ago?" it asks.

"Fifteen years down the line, the real work on German unification is only just beginning."

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

Germans mark Berlin Wall's fall
09 Nov 04 |  Europe

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific