The Berlin Wall, which for decades had divided not just a city but a country, and all of Europe, fell in November 1989, and history accelerated its march. Such moments test the responsibility and wisdom of statesmen.
The long overdue changes in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe had received a powerful impetus from the democratic process already under way in the Soviet Union. The demands of the people were getting increasingly urgent and radical.
In the fall of 1989 the situation in East Germany?the G.D.R.?became explosive. Large groups of people were leaving the country; people were fleeing en masse through Hungary and Czechoslovakia, which had opened their western borders. In major cities, people took to the streets, protesting peacefully, but violence with consequences beyond anyone?s control could not be ruled out.
In October 1989, I attended the festivities in East Berlin marking the 40th anniversary of the…
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