Fall of the Berlin Wall: Timeline of a year of wonder, when the unthinkable became the unstoppable

The fall of the Berlin Wall was merely the highlight of a year of extraordinary political drama. Here are some key moments, described largely through headlines on The Independent’s reports. (The dates refer to the events rather than the reports.)

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How The Independent reported the collapse of Communism across the eastern bloc countries  in 1989

15 FEBRUARY 1989  ‘MOSCOW LEAVES AFGHANISTAN TO  THE AFGHANS’

28 MARCH 1989  ‘YELTSIN HEADS FOR MASSIVE VICTORY’

Boris Yeltsin, a radical reformer, is elected as the Moscow delegate to the Congress of People’s Deputies of the Soviet Union.

2 MAY 1989  HUNGARY CUTS ITS WIRE

Hungary’s relatively liberal regime begins to dismantle its border with Austria.

4 JUNE 1989  ‘SOLIDARITY CRUSHES COMMUNISTS AT  THE POLLS’

The Independent’s headline sums up Poland’s dramatic, seismic election result.

 

13 JUNE 1989  THE BONN DECLARATION

The German Chancellor, Helmut Kohl, and the Soviet President, Mikhail Gorbachev, sign an agreement easing tensions between the two countries.

23 AUGUST 1989  ‘HUMAN CHAIN STANDS UP AGAINST THE  SOVIET UNION’

Two million protesters form a 400-mile chain in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

1 SEPTEMBER 1989  ‘EUROPE VOTES WITH  ITS FEET’

East German refugees begin to mass in Hungary.

10 SEPTEMBER 1989  HUNGARY OPENS THE REFUGEE FLOODGATES

Thousands of East German refugees are allowed to cross from Hungary  into Austria.

SEPTEMBER 20 1989  ‘CZECHS TRY TO STOP EAST GERMANS’

Border guards try to staunch the flow of East German refugees trying to escape via the Czech border into Hungary, and thence into the West.

21 SEPTEMBER 1989  ‘COMMUNISM STARTS  TO CRACK...’

“The future of Communist East Germany is hanging in the balance following the flight of 13,000 citizens to a new life in the West,” reported The Independent.

2 OCTOBER 1989  ‘GERMANY LETS 7,000 TAKE THE TRAIN WEST’

6-7 OCTOBER 1989  GORBACHEV IN  EAST BERLIN

The Soviet President’s visit is greeted by thousands of demonstrators chanting “Gorby! Gorby!”.

16 OCTOBER 1989  ‘120,000 JOIN PROTEST MARCH THROUGH  LEIPZIG’

18 OCTOBER 1989  ‘HONECKER FORCED OUT...’

Weight of protest makes the position of East Germany’s hardline leader untenable.

23 OCTOBER 1989  ‘250,000 MARCH IN LEIPZIG’

6 NOVEMBER 1989  ‘BIGGEST MARCH YET  IN LEIPZIG’

9 NOVEMBER 1989  BERLIN WALL OPENED

10 NOVEMBER 1989  BULGARIA REGIME FALLS

24 NOVEMBER 1989  CZECHOSLOVAKIA’S  ‘VELVET REVOLUTION’

17 DECEMBER 1989  REVOLT IN ROMANIA

25 DECEMBER 1989  DEATH OF CEAUSESCUS

Romanian tyrants Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu are executed on Christmas Day.

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