One of the most remembered things of the cold war was the destruction of the Berlin Wall. In the 60's the West
had become a source of embarrasment to the Communist East. It represented the freedom of democracy that the East was trying
to destroy. So in 1961 Khrushchev met with President Kennedy in Vienna and threatened to deny western access to Berlin. Kennedy
asked Congress for increased defense spending, but did not take defensive action when the East German government began to
build the Berlin Wall in August 1961. It solved a refugee problem that the East government was having but truly demonstrated
the problem with communism.
However, after nearly forty years of communism, the Iron Curtain began to fall. Many of the communist countries
began to abondon communism and weak the Soviets power. One by one different countries began to accept and introduce democracy
into their society. Then on October 25, 1989, Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet leader at the time, told his nation that the government
would no longer use force to impose communist rule and he thereby opened the flood gates for greater change.
Yet, perhaps, the true realization of democracy in Europe, and what I believe to be the true end of the cold
war, was the day the Berlin Wall came down.
The pressure put on the government two years before at the Brandenburg Gate by Ronald Reagan, had helped
to pave the way for the destruction of the Berlin Wall. Reagan's words "General
Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization:
Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" Hardly
two years later the wall was opened forever.
On the 9th of November, 1989, the border seperating Western and Eastern Germany was finally opened. This happens when
an announcement is mistakenly made by Communist Polit Bureau member, Guenther Schabowski. A simple misspeak occurs and the Wall is opened. He had said "...in order to relieve pressure from our allies (referring to the situation of the West German Embassy in Prague and the
mass exodus of East Germans via Hungary) the decision was made to open the checkpoints." When asked when this would take effect by
a journalist, Schabobowski stutters, "If I am informed correctly, this regulation becomes effective immediately."
heard those miraculous words and began to flood to the West immediately. The guards not knowing what to do, opened the gates
and the people of both sides of the city fell into each others' arms.