Man whose blunder led to the fall of the Berlin Wall dies

By Sarah Harvey

Guenter Schabowski. REUTERS
Guenter Schabowski. REUTERS
The man behind the rapid fall of the Berlin Wall has died.

Guenter Schabowski, a senior East German official, made an impromptu announcement at a news conference which led to the demise of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

The annoucement had been planned for the next day but Schabowski’s blunder meant tens of thousands of people began crossing from East Berlin to the West.

The measures to allow people to cross were intended to stem an exodus to Hungary amid mass protests but they had been planned to happen at a much slower rate.

The mass of people hastened the wall’s fall and, less than a year later, East and West Germany were reunited into one country ending 45 years of division.

In 1997, Schabowski was jailed for three years for his role in East Germany’s policy of shooting those who tried to cross into the West. He was pardoned after a year.

In 2009 he wrote an autobiography denouncing the regime as being fatally flawed.

He died at the age of 86.

A file photo from November 1989 showing the Berlin Wall. REUTERS
A file photo from November 1989 showing the Berlin Wall. REUTERS



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