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tv   Fall of Berlin Wall 30th Anniversary  CSPAN  November 28, 2019 8:00pm-11:06pm EST

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post-wall history. "washington journal" is next. east berlin tonight, tens of thousands of people crossing into west tens of thousands of crossing into west portland, pouring into the berlin wall, not waiting for official visits or even daybreak, they are still coming. >> those are the words and images that nbc knee used to open its report on november 9th, 1989. 30 years later we have remembering that they, live from the museums berlin wall calgary, just on pennsylvania avenue, u.s. capital here in washington d.c., it's our home for the next three hours on the washington journal on c span, and an american history on c-span 3. as we talk about the history of the wall, were talking about your own memories. let us know what the fall of the berlin wall meant to you. four lines are spent relate this morning. if you
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live in the eastern or central time zones, the phone number to call 2027488000 if you live in a specific timelines, then call 2027488001. if you are in germany, please call 2027488002. on twitter, it's at cnn history and on facebook it's facebook .com slash c-span. a very good saturday morning to you, can start calling in now as we welcome you to the berlin wall gallery here at the museum. our set on washington journal today, just steps away from eight concrete blocks, the largest unaltered portions of the berlin wall outside of germany. one small part of a network of barriers at one separated west of berlin
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from east of violent, and communist west berlin. it wraparound for 96, miles including said 27 miles to the heart of the sitting. by 1980, nine the wall consisted of 45,000 concrete blocks, 259 pathways, and 30 bunkers. during the wall, at least hundred 40 people were killed trying to escape the communist bloc for the freedoms of the west. and now, the berlin wall has been gone for longer than it stood, but we are asking you to join in this morning to give us your thoughts and memories of that day and what you watched that day 30 years ago, 1989. let's start with todd from brentwood, california. good morning to you. your memories from that day? >> i
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remember it well. it was a great day. i remember reagan, the anti-communist warrior champion, mr. gorbachev, tear down this wall i hope a oc and the rest of the squad is watching this, bernie sanders socialism was such a devastating failure. cuba, venezuela, china, russia even the scandinavians are running away from it tremendously. we have such a generational divide here in america concerning socialism. they seem to be predisposed in favor of it. they do not know mao or stalin. socialism is a lucre. >> on an anniversary like this, is this a day that can bridge the generational divide that you are worried about? >> if they are watching, but they are not. socialism is such a loser
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worldwide and i forgot what i was going to say because you interrupted me. >> i appreciate the call this morning, todd from brentwood, california. brent out of houston, texas. good morning. >> good morning. yeah, germany, world war ii and the sherman tate, we won world war ii basically because we had the system of the expressed our tanks and we had better tanks men. the germans today, they invest. they treat their schools as repositories and they invest in their people. in america, we dropped the ball. we do not invest and use our institutions, especially our high schools, elementary schools, and even pre-k as repositories. repositories are institutions of knowledge. we do not have well-trained
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teachers who have national full certification. germany has done that. germany invests in their people, in their institutions, they produced some of the best instruments and machinery in the world, and this is a country that people demonize so much. yet they came together. the east germans have always been accused of steroids and performance enhancement drugs at the time, the east germans were always some of the best athletes but they were for that. today, we deal with the same issue of performance enhancement drugs and testing. we have to look at germany as a world prayer. and they have a female world leader. they are very progressive, people who use the word socialist and all of these other stigmatizing phrases to neutralize people's
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innovation, but america, we are not just about classical education, we do not just need to know about plato and socrates, but we need to know about the innovators of the world, the albert einstein's and educators who taught people to think. >> got your point, don in houston. you started talking about going back to world war ii and the history there. we want to take viewers back to post-world war ii europe, this film from the nato information services back in 1962 talked about how germany and specifically berlin were divided after world war ii. here's that clip. >> until such time germany could reshape her own destiny, she would be divided into separate sounds of occupation, each controlled by an allied power american, british, french, russian. economically, she would be treated as a whole. this the victors had agreed when they
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met to decide the future of germany. even then, some had reservations about mutual trust. with a world war just over, they had to trust one another, or else begin another war. for berlin, it was to be each power with its sector, but the city would be open to all the powers until germany once again berlin once again resumed its role as head of the german state. access to the city for other powers was agreed on through roads, railways, and corridors. makeshift, perhaps, but it was never meant to be permanent. in berlin, they set up a headquarters where, day by day, officers of the four occupying powers would administer berlin by cooperation, joint agreement as to what was to be done and how. and frankly, what was to be done in starting again from scratch. >> the birthplace of the berlin wall, august 12,
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1961. it stood for over 28 years. today it has been gone longer than it stood. we are talking about the 30th anniversary of the fall of the berlin wall. getting your thoughts and memories of that day, november 9, 19 89, and your thoughts about the legacy of the wall. this is rich out of hickory hills, illinois. good morning. >> good morning. i remember with the berlin wall, there was always a very dramatic scene of people escaping and the east berlin, the east german police shooting, killing them. it was designed to keep the people from escaping and from the ideas getting into change the country. that whole kind of lifestyle that existed over there at that time, you know, that's the way it was projected to the rest of the world. every time there was somebody escaped out of east germany, there was
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the stories of horrific conditions that they endured, you know, and it was a different kind of mentality and how to change that, you know, mentality to take down the wall, ronald reagan, you know, telling them to take down the wall and the political ideas and lifestyle changes that were the issues at the time, unlike the issues of our time here. these issues are significantly different for the cause and effect of our wall and what it is supposed to do, what are we
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trying to accomplish? those ideas have to be looked at, what works and what doesn't work, do you know what i mean? >> host: rich, we appreciate the call from illinois this morning. the president visiting the wall, the escape attempts from east berlin to west berlin, topics we will be talking about over the course of the next three hours on washington journal on c-span, on american history tv on c-span3. we are live from the berlin wall gallery, just down the road from capitol hill, where our studio usually is. most importantly, we want to hear from you, your memories of that day, november 9, 19 89, and what you think the legacy of the wall has been over the past 30 years. this is carl over providence, rhode island. good morning. >> yeah, hi. i'm a german-american and at that time, i was 38 years old. i
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remember it vividly, actually. credit has to be given primarily to ronald reagan and the reagan, because his administration, starting in 1981, if i remember correctly, was the only administration that went on the offensive against the soviet union, moving up their missile forces there and western europe there in western europe, germany with the pershing one, pershing ttwo, and ballistic missiles. they were nuts, because the pershings could have hit moscow in five minutes. you talked about over their post-world war ii. i am going to give you real history and fake history. fake history is when they were brave
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men, they said d-day was the turning point in world war ii. baloney. the turning point in world war ii was the battles of kursk and the battles of stalingrad. those battles were larger than the entire western front of world war ii. the russians lost over 20 million people and the germans, my people, lost about five to 6 million people 5 million to 6 million people. the loss was the largest in the history of military warfare. that is fake history. you see these people going on tv, talking about d-day, d-day, d-day, in particular, is very nice lady, martha maccallum, reading all the text. i am quite sure she did not know anything about military history. i could be wrong, but i know you know, i have seen you on tv. >> and we
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have talked before, you called and made that point before as well. i appreciate you calling in this morning on the 30th anniversary of the fall of the berlin wall. carl calling in on that line we set aside for german-americans this morning. it is (202) 748-8002, is that number. phone lines are split regionally. (202) 748-8000 if you live in the eastern or central time zones. (202) 748-8001 if you live in the mountain or pacific time zones. hope you joins you join us throughout the morning, until 10:00 a.m. eastern we will be talking about the 30th anniversary of the fall of the
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berlin wall. chuck from west babylon, new york. do you remember where you were when you heard about the fall of the wall? >> well, i was actually watching it on tv at the time, but two years prior i had taken a trip to germany and berlin and had visited east and west, and it was such a stark difference between the two sides. it was very depressing going into the ddr and watching how they had to live over there under that rule. i was forced to change my money to ddr money, which was not exchangeable back to the currency, so you can see how they were struggling to survive back then, just because they were pulling in any kind of tourism they could, forcing them to change the money, and it was such a solemn, sad place to be at the time, 1988, compared to west berlin, which was such a bustling, hustling, beautiful city with all of these cultures and artwork and freedom going on. watching it come down a few years later, i have pictures of myself reaching up to the top of the wall, which i never expected to years later for that wall to come down. it was very emotional for me because actually after being there, seeing the differences in the way of life, it was really wonderful to see it actually come down and for there to be
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freedom once again. for berlin to be connected. >> talk about reaching up to the top of the wall. why you wanted to do that when you did that. there is so much history of people wanting to touch the wall and be at the wall, both when it was up and to have pieces of it when it came down. why did you want to do that when the wall was still up? >> it was just very an comprehensible, how something could just divide a nation in half, and to look up to it and try to reach up to it and say wow, this is incredible. this is crazy. then you see the memorials of people and crosses, people who were shot because they tried to get out, and they have landmines there, and it is mind blowing because it is nothing like you see in america. >> chuck, thank you. walter out of penrose, colorado. chuck said he watched
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the fall of the berlin wall live. we have a poll on our twitter page at @cspanwj and our american history twitter page. 65% of our respondents said they have watched it live, 9% heard about it by reading the newspaper or the radio the next day. 22% learned about it after the fact. you can join in at @cspanwj, call us this morning, plenty of ways to join us the conversation. you can also send us a text, it is (202) 748-8003. we will look for those texts as well as we hear from walter in colorado.
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good morning. >> yes, born and raised in germany, a german mother, my father was an american g.i.. i grew up over there, saw the fall of the wall on tv, of course, living in america now i want to reiterate, of course, that the soviets did take that wall down not because they wanted to and released the eastern europe and eastern germans, but because they had to. for us not to forget that it was ronald reagan that actually pushed the issue, to have all that stuff disbanded. we still don't give enough credit you see on the tv, there are the tanks pointing weapons that one another so i wanted to reiterate that. >> we will show you more from president reagan's famous speech at the wall a little later this morning in the washington journal. we want to keep hearing from you, your memories from that day how you learned about it. it was a bit out of norfolk, virginia. good morning. elizabeth out of norfolk, virginia. good morning. elizabeth, are you with us this morning? we will
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try elizabeth one more time. go ahead. >> can you hear me? >> yes, go ahead. >> i am thinking about how many people died in the cold war and how in the grand scheme of history, that wall was up for such a short period of time, but how much misery it caused and how many people died because of it, and i just member feeling very sad, sad for all the pointless deaths and misery that that thing inflicted. >> is there one that you are member you watch the history of the wall? plenty of news reports and attempts to have the media there when some of these escapes happened. is there one in particular you remember? >> i agree with the gentleman a couple callers back, saying the people who are getting shot when they tried to escape i was
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thinking about those people and thinking, i guess they didn't die for nothing, but man. if they had only waited, you know? maybe in the natural course of things it would have ended for them, but when you are that desperate, you do not wait. >> 30 years ago, the beginning of the followed the wall. your member where you were that day? >> absolutely. i was sitting on my couch in san diego, california, waiting for the birth of my second son and watching cnn. i used to get really emotional at the news back then and i was crying. it was a momentous occasion and i felt so bad for all those lives who had been lost. >> elizabeth, thank you for the call this morning, from norfolk,
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virginia. our caller from flushing, new york. good morning. >> i was in berlin in 1987, so i had a chance to see the wall and the crossings from the westside to east, and one thing we are missing from this discussion is people are praising ronald reagan. without gorbachev, this would not have happened. of course, reagan said bring down the wall, but we should not ignore the other side who was extending his hand, gorbachev. he agreed with him. without that, that would have never have happened. the same historical incident we might have applied here, but there are no leaders on both sides who said ok, if china will agree now to be united, that is what we have to think. what is happening in berlin 30 years ago is not happening right now. it should be leaders, it should be compromising. that is what we learned from reagan and gorbachev. i want to give credit to gorbachev, because
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without him this never would have happened. believe it or not. >> thanks for the call. elizabeth, two calls back, and some other colors this morning talking about those who died in the escape attempts over the berlin wall. we showed you an excerpt from the nbc news special report that ran on november 9, 1989, that evening as part of the coverage. they put together a compilation of some of the east berlin a attempts. we want to show our viewers that now. >> for the past 28 years when it was not possible to prosper just or skate cross bridges or scale that wall, people try to escape
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any way they could. their attempts were a testament to their bravery, ingenuity, and desperation. at first it was literally a tug-of-war between the long arm of the oppressor and the desire for freedom. this woman made it. many more did not. almost 200 east germans have died trying to cross the wall, or the long border between east and west germany. for each person fleeing, there was that moment of terror when he or she was a target or the border guards. but still, they came. sometimes well laid plans worked, the escape was successful. but we should not forget those who tried and failed. >> that from the nbc special report that aired today, the 11:30 broadcast that evening, eastern
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time. this morning on the washington journal, we are live in the newseum's berlin wall gallery, taking your calls and getting your memories of 30 years ago. we divided the lines regionally, (202) 748-8000 for eastern or central time zones. (202) 748-8001 if you are in the mountain or pacific time zones. (202) 748-8002 for the special line we have set aside for german-americans on this day, and tim is in california, and has been waiting period good morning. waiting. good morning. >> good morning. i consider the fall of the berlin wall the greatest single world events during my lifetime. i was five years old when the berlin wall went up, and i remember even at that very early age, it made a very profound impression on me, and
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i think that is why i developed such an intense hatred of communism. i thought, what kind of people would do this? and i really feel like jfk should have called the russians on the hotline and told them, you terror that wall down or we will send our tanks and to tear it down send our tanks in to tear it down. later on in life i became very active in conservative politics and a large part of the reason was my intense hatred for communism, and also i mean, i think i learned about the fall of the wall on television and i was just thrilled to death. i was probably jumping up and down in my living room i was so happy. i am at least partially of german ancestry, so for me,
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that holds a particular resonancet importance for me. my ancestors came over, came to the united states a very long time ago and i believe they came from what later became western germany, but it still meant a tremendous deal to me. i was so appalled by what was done and so thrilled to death, i think i was so happy i was jumping up and down in the living room of my house. i am going to be 64 only from now, and i consider that the greatest event, world event during my lifetime, the fall of the berlin wall. >> jim, happy early birthday to you, thank you for your call this morning. body out of north carolina claudia out of north carolina is next. >> good morning. i am also calling as a german, and a german professor and global studies director at a school in north carolina in durham. for me as a german, i was a
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graduate student at the university of southern california in linguistics in german and my advisor came that morning to us for the first class and said, did you know what happened last night? he was a former east german. the wall came down. we all said, is he crazy? we did not have tv. that time, with the social media and all that, it was not that prominent. he said from the computer, we need to find out and call people. we called some people over there, but could not get through. we finally got through and were looking at regular tv screens, that the wall had come down and of course there was coverage from all over, on the radio. on the next day on campus, at the university of southern california, in our department everyone was cheering, so happy, with disbelief. i went back a month later to see my brother, who was in west germany, and we
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went for the first time ever in our lives over to the east, and my father was a prosecutor in the west. he was not allowed to go to the east and we also could not go to school for the west, because there was a chance we could have been interrogated or arrested, and that would have been held against the west german government. for the first time ever, i set foot on the side i had only seen in book form or those for my grandfather's side, who had sisters who had sisters you sent us books from the east. >> claudia, finish your thought. >> yes. >> i was going to ask you before you go, this anniversary, the 30th anniversary, how should it be remembered? how should the wall
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be remembered? is today a day of somber remembrance? what is the right mood for today? we will be talking about that later in our program. >> i am getting ready for homecoming at our university, and today and yesterday, we had a big discussion the day before, what should we do? of course, there are different voices. we want to commemorate the suffering that has happened, but also the people who came over here. on the other hand, we did a vote in class should it be the ninth of november or the third of october that we celebrate the reunification? we also want to commemorate the holocaust, the end of the holocaust, because that is the official unification of germany. this is an event that we really have used to try to unite people, but we did a lot of research,
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interviewed people, and many people today say germany is not yet new to five unified. there is a division and we are breaking apart. i am honestly more comfortable going to the eastern part because i feel that people are much more of a community in a way, and i feel also that the history and all that, and the german language, so today, it was a rediscovery and dictatorships it shows the wall is but a symbol of another dictatorship in a way, and i just want to say it is a major event and i am still in
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disbelief that it happened. >> claudia, thank you so much for your call this morning, sharing your thoughts. you mentioned two important days, the fall of the wall, the beginning of the fall of the berlin wall 30 years ago today and that october 3 reunification day. we have the new york times newspapers from november the 11th, two days afterwards, the addition that came out on the fall the edition that came out two days after the fall. joy is to east german sports through wall, party pledges freedoms and west exults is the headline. we were also able to get the october 4 edition of the new york times on the reunification, two germany's unite after 45 years with tribulation and a bow of peace and a vow of peace. we want to turn to the executive senior
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director, curator, and the senior vice president at the newseum, kerry kristofferson joining us on set this morning here in the berlin wall gallery. thank you for allowing us to be here. >> we are delighted to have you. >> i wanted you to talk about the focal point of this exhibit and the berlin wall gallery. it is obviously the eighth concrete barriers eight concrete barriers that once stood as part of the berlin wall. where did they once stand and how did you get them here? >> babies as pieces of the wall we have on display came from places we are not 100% certain of. they were not a run of pieces that world together in berlin. the big backdrop to those is a guard tower from near checkpoint charlie. we know fairly precisely where it came from, and those things together with some other pieces in the gallery, a barrier and a replica sector sign, will bring
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together our finite interpretation of a slice of what the wall and its supporting materials look like at the time the wall was up. >> the western side of the wall, as you can see this morning, that side that has a lot of the graffiti on it. can you talk a little bit about that? have you ever been able to find out who created that graffiti? >> sure. the western side of the wall, which was still inside what was technically the border of east berlin at the time. anyone who went and painted any of the graffiti, who went while the wall was still standing and so forth, they were on east german soil and were sort of endanger themselves and their that endanger in danger themselves and their to make a point there to make a point. there are two
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artists that are fairly well-known graffiti artists, they did a lot of work at and on the berlin wall at the time it was in place. >> and the rest of the exhibit, the wall as the focal point and the tower as well if you go to the museum, what else we be seeing as you walk through the >> you approach the while, you see the western side, and it is vibrant and everyone's mind's i image of what the berlin wall looked like. but if you go around the other side, you get the stark reality of what east berlin was like, the back of the wall is plain, there are a few markings on it here that are more about identification act or the fact that anything that would have been on it at the time, when people were living in east berlin rather than reunifying germany. so that sort of makes
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that immediate contrast for people between freedom and oppression. that is really the uber theme of this gallery, that and the idea that the news cannot be contained by a wall. the wall went up in 1961 and an effort as much of anything to keep people in east berlin, and it worked on that front for a while, obviously, about 28 years, right? but it did not keep news from passing through, over, across the wall. you will learn stories in the gallery about how people could obviously get radio across from both sides, riaz at the time was a most trusted radio source from the west you could hear in the east, radio and the american sector is what those letters stand for. television waves could cross something like a wall. in addition to that, there are reports of trucks riding up to the wall on the western side and using loudspeakers to blast the news
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to people, whether they were listening to their radio or tuned into a television, could get the news from the west. and reports of telephone numbers you could call from east berlin and hear somebody read or have a recording of the western newspapers being read. there were all these mechanisms for getting the news from the west, which was critical, because that was a piece of what was so different between east and west at the time. the eastern news was controlled. it was soviet controlled, communist controlled, and the news in the west was a free press, as we enjoy today. >> the newseum is
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shuttering the stores here the doors here on pennsylvania avenue at the end of this year. what is going to happen to this exhibit? >> after we close to the general public, we will begin the process of de-installing the pieces here. it will be transferred to our state-of-the-art storage facility, most of our areas have off-site storage so we can take care of things properly, and we will continue with the process of figuring out what the next step is, what the next iteration of the newseum is, whether 21st century museum looks like, the balance of digital versus physical. >> is there any insight you can give as to what that might look like? >> we are still discerning, to be honest. we had our museum in rosslyn and closed down and moved here, so we have no idea what we might look like next. >> thank you for joining us on c-span and c-span3. back to your phone call this morning, we are hearing from viewers
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about your experience, watching the fall of the berlin wall 30 years ago, november 9, 1939, your memories of that day. the phone lines, 202, phone lines, (202) 748-8000 in the central or eastern time zones. (202) 748-8001 in the mountain or pacific time zones. a special line for german-americans, (202) 748-8002. we will also look for your tweets and text messages as we hear from bill in maryland. thanks for waiting. >> hello, can you hear me? >> yes, go ahead. >> i was a student in, >> where were you a student, bill? bill, are you still with us? we will try to get bill back as we go to dan out of jackson heights, new
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york. go ahead. >> i was born in a communist country, a refugee from a communist country. i was in vietnam and i went back to my country, to east european countries for medical school, and i have to tell you that this location means a lot to me, but not in the way most people would think. the thing about the communist system is that it was so corrupt, so based on violence, it was like a big mafia operation. with the russians, of course, on top. breaking down that wall did not change much of anything, because eastern europe is still an extremely corrupt power, still speaks louder than principal. if you compare west germans and east germans, they
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still have very negative feelings towards each other and ironically, europeans have no sense of history at all. they do not realize how that happened, why it happened, they do not discuss it. students at school have no idea what today is, and it is tragic because a lot of young people had their lives cut short. fighting this cold war. it was not like world war ii, one big push, this was a slow process and now if you go to eastern europe, you are seeing a lot of what happened there, still looks like what is happening now. i think it is really sad that everybody thinks that there was a liberation going on, because eastern europe is as much in traps now in trapped now as ever. east germans are as in trapped entrapped as ever, because the opportunities are not the same. >> why is that? why are the opportunities not the same? >> there was a
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certain backwardness imposed by the leaders, the only thing they are good at is killing other people, and the west, they still did not forgive us. and the corruption in eastern europe now is just as bad as it was under communism. there is a certain momentum to the culture, getting by, and the culture of just getting by, which is a terrible way to spend your life, because you just get one shot at life, 60, 70 years, whatever it is. if i look back from that perspective, i am an old man now, and i feel so many people's lives were totally wasted for nothing, so we low-level type people, mentally and so on, could rule with europe and push europe back so much. my only dream is that russia would come to meet
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european standards and the eu would become a homogenous space. when the americans forced east germany into the eu, they were worried that the east germans could do a lot of economic competing with us. eastern europe is a bird or not on western europe burden on western europe and until eastern and western europe rejoin into one common europe, we are always going to be ironically bound, with the
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chinese and the russians. i am very candid that the wall is down and everything is ok. >> in new york this morning, john is out of ferrum, virginia. go ahead, you are next. >> hi, how are you? >> i am well, go ahead. >> i am 31 years old, and the previous caller talked about the lack of education people receive on the subject? for me, i was never taught anything in school. here in public schools in virginia. and so for me, observing the situation on television and recognizing that division of the state, in this case, makes it complicated because i mean it is representative are you still there? >> yes. >> it's
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really sad and it's really scary how the divisiveness between you do not see that stuff where i live in virginia, the conflict and competition, and it is just really shocking. you do not see this sort of stuff you are young, for me in school. for me it is really scary, so anyway, i appreciate you taking my call. >> john, thanks for the call firm virginia this morning. a few texts from viewers. this first one from lawrence in st. paul, minnesota. in germany, a few months after the fall of the wall i recall was discussion on win exposed to the west how angry former east germans were over the lies and deceit by their former government, and this text from bill in
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connecticut, my father was a prisoner of war in germany, now is translated and performed there. it was the nonviolence and joy of the moment that was awesome. bill also sending a text with a picture from the french sector in berlin, dated in 1964. you can see what appears to be that first iteration of the berlin wall in that picture of the french sector, the berlin wall obviously took on several different iterations before it became the 12 foot high concrete barriers that are here at the newseum, before the wall became to come down that night november 9, 1989. robert is next out of tuscaloosa, alabama. robert, thanks for waiting. >> i want to give you
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a different perspective, sir. i am an african descendents, my folks were brought to the united states. that is so hypocritical we talked about ronald reagan, that was hypocritical, because when he decided to run for president, he went to mississippi, where the people were divided here, where african-american people cannot get into public schools, so it is so hypocritical. another thing about the europeans i'm not talking about all of them, they got to call themselves white, and they defied every country in the world, but they only want to keep the europeans together. they do not want north korea or south korea to get together, people in the middle east or
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north africa to get together, and it is so hypocritical, and they oppress african americans in this country. i hear all the white people calling in and they have a different perspective on it from african-americans, who are older. particularly as old as i am, 80 years old and out. the young ones do not teach true the young ones do not know about it because they do not teach true history in the school. these europeans in the united states who call themselves white, they are so hypocritical. then they divide african-americans in this country. they put some >> ok, that your point. that is robert in alabama this morning. kate is in maine. good morning, do you remember november 9, 1989? >> it's christina. >> yes, go ahead. >> i have lived in east germany and west germany. we were naturalized german in 1944. we were polish, i am a polish world war ii survivor,
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born in 1933. i remember we were naturalized so my father could continue working. then i was separated and i was in a hospital in 1944, and i was taken across the border because the russians were moving in and the germans were evacuating the hospital, so they put me on the train and i ended up in mecklenburg, in germany, without parents. i was about 10 years of age, maybe about 12. a lot of things have happened since then. i lived in east germany for a total of five years. in 1950, i escaped from
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behind the iron curtain into west germany. notice here, i have letters. i said, why don't you just go upstairs on the computer with my son, and the other boy, and he said, oh no, i must thank you for the dinner. , so lots of change has occurred. i am half german myself, my mother was from a small village. we were determine. and throughout my stay in germany and of half of my life and europe, and, you
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know, the germans were so grateful after the war. and she would take no money. we paid her with sugar and coffee, which after the war was in high demand. we were not allowed to use american money. we had the old script. the german people were just so grateful to the americans for freeing them, and then one of my dad's people, his wife survived the nazi death camps. she's all for family died. and then, but i was teaching, one of my people was a p.o.w., he was very grateful, and they treated us
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like royalty. he gave us everything, and he said i'm sure he did not treat your people the right way. the wall is a symbol, just like we have a wall today, trump's wall. it is so wrong, it is so wrong to divide people. anyway, we have too much of that in our world. we need to go together and love one another. >> i want to turn to our phone line. we are joined by a correspondent, covering what is happening in berlin. thank you for your time on a very busy day. can you describe where you are in berlin and what you have been covering today on the 30th
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anniversary? >> i'm and one of the most berlin memorials, the berlin wall ran across the street, just in front of business that lift. it has been a powerful symbol, but what that division meant for so many families and friends, but also what that division was overcome with people, who are a lot of tourists to come on a daily basis to understand both of those elements, not only what happened when germany was divided, when berlin was divided, but also how that division was overcome and this is where the main political ceremony took place with angela merkel, and as well as the president of poland. because of
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the role that they played in the berlin wall. >> we've been checking your twitter page this morning, looking at your coverage. you give us a sense of the mood. is this a somber day of remembrance? what is the mood of the city? >> both. when the organizers actually planned the events, not only today, but this week, they planned it at a festival on the one hand, as a sign of celebration. the berlin wall had been destroyed and fallen after three decades of those on the one hand, but the germans are celebrating. they stated this to be a event where those
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have been two words that happened very important, and also in particular, today, not only because germans have been remembering the personal experiences, about the wall and the fall of the wall, but also what that means today, what lessons can be drawn from the berlin wall, for the only germany but the country today. >> as a journalist,, what do you think those lessons are? >> we are working in places where there was not a free press as a 30 years and a day ago. >> >> i was actually working along this memorial earlier this week, producing a piece, and one of the things you can learn when you walk. that east german authorities, for a very long time, 28 years that the berlin wall lasted, they were
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trying to make it stronger and more impenetrable every single time. everything will time, they realized they were not able to make it completely impenetrable, that people were able in many different ways, and in many cases risking their own lives, leaving everything behind, but many of them were still able to jump or go to the west. that is one of the lessons people have been able to draw here, that walls do not necessarily achieved what they are erected to achieve. when people want their freedom, want more democracy, want to make sure they can live in a free world, there is no wall that can stop them for a very long time. i think that is one of the big conclusions that can be drawn here in particular, but also across the world today. >> thomas spero, before we let you get back to work, it has been a busy day. we appreciate your time. a lot of colors have noted the divisions that still exist between east and west germany today. can you speak to
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that? >> i spent some time in the eastern part of the country. although this is certainly a day of celebration, as i said, many germans do acknowledge that the division between east and west is still very much present. germany has advanced a lot the last three decades, there is no doubt about that, but at the same time, some of those divisions are becoming evident. some of them are real, salaries, that is an absolutely evident case, eastern germans tend to earn less than west germans, and political representation that east german tends to be represented politically less than west germans, but those divisions are also perceived. a perceived difference. you can see any germany, when people tell you they feel as though they were second-class citizens, many of them feel left behind, they are not the lyrically
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represented in a way they feel they should, so there are still differences, and that is why german officials have stated on various occasions that even though germany has advanced a lot, the goal of reunification has not been achieved entirely and the challenges that germany has ahead are still very important. >> thomas sparrow, a correspondent for deutsche welle, you can see their english programming on their website, we are asking you your thoughts, your memories of the follow of the berlin wall. we are asking you your thoughts of the fall of the berlin wall, 30 years ago today, this is cristina and maryland ohio. got to get that right? >> christina. >> i have lived in ace germany and west germany, we were naturalized germans in 1944. we were polish, born in 1933, and i remember that we went, and were naturalized, so my father could continue working. i was
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separated and in the hospital in 1944. and that was taken across the border, because the russians were moving in and the germans were evacuating the hospital, so they put me on the train and i ended up in mecklenburg, in germany, without parents. i was about 10 years of age, maybe about 12. a lot of things have happened since then. i lived in east germany for a total of five years. in 1950, i escaped from behind the iron curtain into west germany. notice here, i have letters from berlin. i was supposed to show up and get my papers so that i could go back to poland, and i did not want to go back to poland. when i escaped, i ended up with a very
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nice family for about a year. >> how did you escape? can you talk about that? >> i crossed the border. i was 17 years of age and i was helped by a lady that had crossed the border many times. she told me how to well, first of all they snuck me out of the village, and i had been there since, they had very good people, but the lady who helped me. they snuck me out in the wagon towards a train, and that was the train that i was supposed to board. they let me out into a little forest area and i walked the rest of the way to a train, and she told me not to make any contact with any russians, with any police or anything on the train. i became acquainted with a lady that was going to escape
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also. we got off at the destination, where the train had stopped, and we had to get off. she and i then walked up the street and we saw some women being escorted back to the train. behind them were about to russians. the women whispered to us, please get into the cafe, they said to get out. we should not be walking because the russians would catch us. we walked in there and we were assisted by the gentleman the gentleman that was running the cafe, he said, what are you doing here? we tried to say we were visiting people in the village and he did not quite believe us. he said, you probably are going to escape. so he said, there is a tall, young man who will come in one door. look them over real good, he will walk out the other door, and you followcurtain. he led us to this young man. we followed for, i don't know, quite a while.
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then we came to a brook, or a i can't think of it right now. he said i will carry you across, but i need payment. she and i had some money to help me do this. she had given me some money to give to whoever was going to help me. >> thank you for telling your story. i want to get your thoughts in about 30 seconds on this day, this 30th anniversary after seeing the fall of the berlin wall. >> i was so happy for the german people. i also see quite a difference between east and west germany at the time. i was
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in germany right before the war. i was happy for the people. it had something to do with the polish people had something to do with bringing down the wall. i am still corresponding with the people i lived with. i think very highly. i am polish. i met naturalized german for a short time but everyone treated me well. >> thanks so much for your thoughts this morning. we will keep getting your thoughts throughout the morning on the washington journal. up next we are joint by georgetown professor and author angela spence to talk about the history and construction of the berlin wall, and events leading up to november 9, 1989. morph your phone calls on the 30th in nursery. first, president reagan's speech from june 12, 1987, 2.5 years before the wall
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fell. >> the soviets may be coming to understand the importance of freedom. we hear much from moscow about a new policy of reform and openness. some political prisoners have been released. certain foreign news broadcasts are no longer jammed. some economic enterprises are operating with greater freedom from state control. are these the beginnings of profound changes in the soviet state? or, are they token gestures intended to raise false hopes in the west or strengthen the soviet system? we welcome change and openness. we believe freedom and security go together. that the advance of human liberty >> the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world
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peace. there is one sign the soviets can make that would be unmistakable. that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. 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, mr. gorbachev, tear down this wall. 'cheers]
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[applause] >> back in the berlin wall gallery in washington, d.c. we welcome angela spence, professor of eurasian, russian and eastern european studies at georgetown university. explain why november 9, 1989 what was the story of that day that led to the images that people around the world saw on their televisions that night? >> it is great to be on your show. this was not planned by the east german government. more and more at this point as
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the revolutions are going on and east germans are fed up, more and more them, 100,000 of them in the summer months were taking refuge in west german emphases in czechoslovakia, hungary and other places. they were trying to go to west germany. the country was hemorrhaging. at some point the leadership decided we have to let people travel. at this point anyone between if you are under six or over 70 may be you could travel to the west. most young adults could not travel. they decided to have a meeting and some new laws allowing east germans to go to the west, west berlin, west germany and see what it is like. it is late at night on the night of november 9. there is a harried official with a piece of paper and he reads it and says soon people
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will be able to, without a visa, travel to the west. an italian journalist is in the audience and he says these germans are all seeing this. the italian journalist, and a flat voice, he says immediately. east berliners here this. thousands left their homes. some of them were in pajamas. they come with their families and they walked to the wall. the border guards are there. they say open the wall. the border guard does not know what to do. he only has instructions about what to do if trying to escape, to shoot people. these people are very peaceful and they are saying open the wall. he calls his superior. they say i don't know what to tell you. the guard himself made the decision. you can read it in the logbook. he says i will open the wall. everybody streams through. the west berliners are waiting for them because they are waiting on television watching on television. it was really one
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guard deciding i will not kill these people. i will let them go. >> how prepared was the west, the united states, and russia to this announcement and the events of november 9? >> no one was well prepared. the soviets weren't. they had ducked their heads into the sand and pretend it was not happening. that night of november 9 they tried to call moscow and no one picked up the phone until a couple of hours later. there were no instructions. this is the irony. this was a repressive state with all these laws. it had millions of people informing on each other but they had no preparation for a peaceful change. >> if you want to call in with
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your questions about the history of that date and the building of the wall for the 28 years the wall stood, if you're the eastern or central time zones, (202) 748-8000. mountain or pacific time zones, (202) 748-8001. the special line we are keeping open for german-americans, (202) 748-8002. professor, as folks are calling in, remind people who eric honecker and helmut kohl were in their reactions that day. >> eric honecker had been the leader of east germany since 1971. a very repressive state. he was the one that when the demonstrations started in different parts of east germany
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in 1989 would have been happy to call the troops out and kill people. the soviets did not let him do that. he was very much out of touch with reality. by november 9, he was no longer the leader of east germany. he had given away to a new leader, but he was well equipped. helmut kohl was the chancellor of west germany from the christian democratic party. even helmut kohl the year before the wall came down was asked, do you think you will see german unification? he said, not in my lifetime. eric honecker said the wall will never come down and this will never happen. kohl was not prepared for this. when it happened they understood this was a tremendous moment. they knew what they had to do but there was a lot of uncertainty. for a while and not sure the soviets wouldn't counter react, which they didn't. >> pre-unification happened
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less than a year later. we are talking early october of 1990. why so quickly? when was it certain the reunification what happened? >> once people could travel to the west more and more east germans set i will not stay here. i would rather live in westjet germany. an attempt to keep people in east germany, helmut kohl decided to do a strange currency conversion with the east german deutschmark with the same value as a west german deutschmark was w which was ridiculous because it wasn't. i think they realized as soon as a unified the country, they would get a hemorrhage of people coming to the west. in the end the soviets did not what unification. they thought you could have reform in east germany. in march they had their first free elections in germany that it would not work. the united states played a key role with the west germans and the soviet union in pushing the unification process forward and a couple should get in a year.
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>> professor angela spent, author of "russia against the west." we are taking your phone calls this morning. we will start with steve out of webster, massachusetts. >> i joined the army in 1979. i studied czech, russian and serbian. my wife is also a linguist in the army. we went on the east berlin tour. someone mentioned how dark it was. what stuck out to me was the 50 caliber bullet holes the soviets had in east berlin. they never fixed that up. a lot
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of unwrap on today's program. the fall of the wall was a large seminal moment in the fall of communism, but people have criticized our role in southeast asia. i heard it referred to as failures in southeast asia. these were our shooting wars against the communists where we gave our blood to fight communism, as well as in korea. you look today and people criticize our southern border. there is a large chinese presence and russian presence in that area, central america and the caribbean. if you look at our wars in afghanistan and iraq, our enemies are all armed with ak-47s, rpg's, foreign weapons provided by the communists. i am happy the wall ended. i am 100% polish. my father was a tailgunner and world war ii. i had an uncle killed at anzio. it is a constant battle and it is great the wall fell.
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>> thanks for that call. angela stent, the role that the wall plate in the fall of communism? >> communism was teetering by the time the wall fell. it first started in poland. it started with a peaceful transition. by august of 1989, they had a non-communist government. it was like a series of dominoes falling. then the hungarians already had moved away from, is him, a government from communism. the symbolism of the wall was so important. communism had already begun to fall. when the wall fell i think every think accelerated. a couple of weeks later there was a revolution in
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czechoslovakia, the velvet revolution. a dissident came to power. at the end of the year you had the last domino falling in romania that was bloody. the leader and his wife were taken, tried and within 24 hours they were shot. what started with a peaceful role revolution and poland ended quite violently in romania. it was one of the most important pieces of it because it symbolized the division of europe. when you don't have a wall everyone can move around in the division erodes. >> east hartford, connecticut. this is david. >> thank you for c-span. i have a collection of memories from the time. i was 10 years old and football, the harvard crimson losing to the black knights, 56-20. i would rather ask a question for the professor. as the teaching of history in germany changed
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since unification? i will take my answer off the air. >> that's a great question. in east germany, of course, students were taught something complete different than west germany. they were taught the east germans had actively no responsibility for hitler for the holocaust. that was the responsibility of the capitalists. when the walls had fallen had to completely revise the textbooks in east germany. they did this in conjunction with the west german's so students in both parts of germany had a similar curriculum. the other question is, how do you look on the communist state? you had on the show some sense there are people in the eastern germany that look back on those communist days what is certain
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about a nostalgia. they forget maybe the worst parts of it and they think maybe it was not such a bad life. it was not as competitive. people related to each other differently. on the question of textbooks, they are constantly rethinking how one approaches this. it's a challenge in the eastern germany for them to understand the full brunt of their own history. >> i want to talk about the birth of the berlin wall. august 12 and 13 is considered the day the wall began to go up. what happened then in history? >> if we go back to that period, it was a very repressive system. what the east germans decided to do was collectivized agriculture. forcing people, farmers who had individual plots to live on collective farms. they did not want to do that. before august 13, 1961, you can still go to east berlin and you could get on the train and you could go to the station which divided east and west
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berlin. you could then say, ok, i will now change trains and take the train to the west. there was an open border in berlin. people could still leave. in the days leading up to the construction of the wall, up to 2000 east germans were leaving east germany every day to go to the west because they wanted to get out. at that point the joke was who was going to turn off the lights in east germany if we don't do something? the east german leader in the soviet leadership decided this has to change. christoph was in power krushe v was in power. the timing was to prevent more east germans from leaving and to make sure the country still existed.
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>> we talked about different iterations of the wall. when did it become the wall that we see today that we think of today, the 12 foot high concrete wall? >> in the beginning it was very crude and there was a lot of barbed wire. it took a couple of years and then it looked like the wall we see when it came down >> pictures of the construction of the wall we can show our viewers as we listen to david from florida. >> good morning. as always, thank you for c-span. i remember the wall going up in 1961 under kennedy, and of course, everyone in the west was very sad to see that. but persistence paid and in 1991
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excuse me, 1990, 1989, the wall came down. we persisted. president kennedy went in front of the wall and made his famous speech. then you showed president reagan going in front of the wall and calling for it being torn down. as an american i am very proud of that, and believe it or not, as a jew i am proud of that, that we persisted. thank god for the government staying the course and fighting the cold war and bringing it down. >> before angela stent talks about it, this is from president kennedy in 1963. >> there are some who say that communism is the wave of the
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future. let them come to berlin. there are some who would say in europe and elsewhere we can work with the communists. let them come to berlin. and there are even a
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few who say that it's true that communism is an evil system, that it permits us to make economic progress. let them come to berlin. all three men, wherever they may live, are citizens of berlin. and therefore, as a free man, i take pride in the words ich ben ein berliner. 1, >> the significance of that moment? >> it was very important. there are some debates. how much forewarning did the data sav the united states have at the wall was going up? maybe the u.s. could have prevented it. obviously we couldn't. we would not have done something because, you know, that probably would have led to a conflict or a war with the soviet union. it was important for president kennedy
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to go to west berlin, stand there with the mayor and to show american support for the people in berlin, the people in west berlin. in the late 1940's, the soviet union tried to stamp out west berlin and the u.s. had the berlin airlift and we saved people. it's important to show the solidarity and u.s. support and u.s. support for west german's and german unification was consistent throughout the decades. we were important in helping facilitate their unification. >> you mentioned the berlin airlift. dig into that for a little bit. >> just to explain to our viewers, the soviets tried to starve out west berlin. they wanted to take over west berlin. to them germany had been divided into two states. we're talking about 1947-1948. you had the presence of american, british and french troops in west berlin. the soviets tried to starve out west berlin. they tried to cut the lines of communication.
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what the united states did was to begin an airlift. we flew our planes and literally dropped food and other supplies. you can see photos of german children rushing and getting chewing gum and cigarettes, but also food. supplies for the west berliners. we broke the soviet blockade. that was a turning point because it meant we were a presence in west berlin until unification. >> professor angela stent of georgetown university. we are taking your phone calls this morning. wes, spartanburg, south carolina. >> great to be on c-span. this program is awesome. i wanted to make a comment about maybe the flavor of it. there are a lot of german manufacturing here,
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especially textiles. bmw is here, too. there were three large sections of the wall i think it was metzger that put it right on the interstate between greenville and spartanburg, south carolina. i remember in that time. i love this program. is there a book you can recommend that people read about this time that captures the flavor? what would be a good book you think would give some of the flavor of the things you know about this conflict at this time? >> first of all, i have written a book called "russia and germany reborn: reunification and the soviet collapse in the new europe." it details how the wall came up and down and what the soviets and u.s. and all the other countries did. i think you will have another guest on soon. she just wrote a
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new book about the fall of the wall. >> thank you for that preview harisson. >> i have not read it yet but i'm sure it's a very good book. >> talk to us about your latest book. >> the fall of the welcome center this. how has putin's russia with limited resources, the gdp the size of italy, declining population, how was it able to reassert itself on the world stage? even where the relations with the west were bad, relations with china, india are much better. we have seen russia back in the middle east now. i have a section on the relationship between germany. it's interesting to remember mr. putin got his start as a mid-level kgb officer in east germany. angela
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merkel grew up in east germany. for putin, the fall of the wall was really key. i go into this in my book. he was in dresdon at the time of the wall fell. after it fell, the east germans came to the building where the soviet kgb was cohead courted with the east german secret police and demanded to see files. putin, and in an biographical essay published when he became president in 2000 describes how they stayed up all night feeding all the files into the furnace. the furnace exploded. it was quite a frightening experience for all of them. they did not know what was going to happen. putin called moscow and said, what should i do about this? nobody picked up the phone. if you want to understand vladimir putin and his attitude towards
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life, go back to dresden is quite important. >> we have a picture of people of east berlin going to the stazi offices and wanting to see their files that was kept there. talk about the trials afterwards. >> in the end a lot of people did see their files. it turns out there were a lot of people first of all, west germans what was painful was when people started to find out their loved ones, members of their family had been informing on them. there was a famous east german writer. it turned out her husband was informing the secret police. this was a pernicious thing about east germany. the extent to which so many people in the population
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became informal workers informers for the ease german secret police. telling tales on their coworkers and even on their own families. a great outpouring and questioning of what people lives had been. it turns out your husband had been informing on you. you have to wonder what it all meant. >> only a few minutes left with professor angela stent a few minutes left with professor angela stent. richard in virginia, good morning. >> how are you doing today? >> doing well. >> the berlin wall was a great thing. it made people smile. it made people feel good. it was a positive thing. i wish we had more of that going on right now. there is some positive in the world. it's just all the
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emphasis is put on bad stuff. i don't know why we want to feel bad. all we want to do is get the news on all the bad stuff. there is so much to smile about. i've got one more comment. it is the 30-year anniversary. we should think about that all day today. the white house spokesman, she is definitely the most beautiful woman i've ever seen in my
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life. >> angela stent on how we should feel about today in the anniversary of the fall of the berlin wall. >> i think we should definitely feel positive. it ended a horrible system. the last nail in the coffin of the communist system in eastern europe. we should have positive feelings about it, understanding maybe we had exaggerated ideas about how easy it would be to integrate the east end west germans. if it is that hard, how much more difficult it has been for the rest of eastern europe and in russia for the post-soviet states to make the transition. it will take a very long time. we should be positive but realistic about how long it will take to get over the defamation of this system. >> professor angela angela
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stent. you can follow her on twitter. " putin's world." up next, more of your phone calls. stay on the line. we will get to your call and talk about your thoughts and memories from 30 years ago today. (202) 748-8000 if you are in the eastern or central time zones, (202) 748-8001 if you are in the mountain or pacific time zones. the special line for german-americans, (202) 748-8002. as you continue to call in we will show you president george h w bush's public reaction to the news they wall had opened when he talk to reporters in the oval office on the afternoon of november 9, 1989. >> when i talked about europe
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in poland we talked about this come of freedom to come and go and in this kind of staying with and living by the act which gives people rights to come and go. >> this is a great victory from east west but you don't seem elated. >> i'm elated but i'm just not an emotional kind of guy. i am very pleased. i'm pleased with a lot of other developments like the united states part of this which is not related to this today and it's been handled in a proper fashion. will have some doubles suggest more flamboyant is to this country and i think forehead
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owning this properly with our allies and this dynamic change and trying to help and hands and reform political and economic is not bubbling over it's getting along towards the evening. >> it is your second thought what are we going to do and they just flooded to west germany. >> what i'd like to think is the political change in the gdr would catch a very fast with this liberation if you will. you may remember i don't know if it was a jim baker sitting
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next to me or a polish journalist what would i my voice be and what i said is you ought to stay there and it's a dramatic change in your country and there's a search and freedom towards democracy and be a part of it. part of it. these are germans. germans love their country. at some point i think a lot of germans who felt pinned in and unable to move and move, but wouldn't it be better to participate in the reforms taking place in their own country?
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>> we're back in the berlin wall gallery at the museum just down pennsylvania avenue from the capital building. it's our home this morning on the washington journal on c-span on american history tv on c-span3. we are taking your phone calls and getting your thoughts and memories from 30 years ago today, the fall of the berlin wall on november 9, 1989. phone lines to join us this morning, (202) 748-8000 if you live in the eastern or central time zones. (202) 748-8001 if you are in the mountain or pacific time zones. (202) 748-8002 for german-americans. that special line this morning. we have our phone line that we keep for text messages. (202) 748-8003. a few text messages come in so far this morning. i want to review a couple of them. ted in new york city rights, "when the wall came down we took the train from amsterdam to berlin. patrolled by east german soldiers with rifles. at the brandenburg gate, east germans came across to stand in the west which was all they could do with no money." "i cried with relief and joy in disbelief. i thought it would never come down. i'm a
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midwestern woman. the desire for i am a midwestern woman. the desire for freedom is a powerful force." " i was 10 years old. my teacher was a berliner. i recall her tears of joy. she gave me a piece of the wall with a guiltl which i still display on my desk today." we are taking your phone calls on the phone lines we set aside for eastern, central, mountain, pacific, and german-americans. oceanside, california. >> i was born right after the war and i was always scared of the communists. everything that was on tv, everything was about how bad the calmness was. there were so many tv shows and movies about the war. you cannot escape it. it was scary.
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i guess i never thought it would come down. it just goes to show you things can change. >> thanks for that call this morning. bill out of waynesboro, pennsylvania. good morning. >> hello. hi. in 1977, my uncle made a trip to east germany to visit relatives. i just wanted to read a few excerpts from a letter he wrote to my dad. he said, and this is pretty brief, "it is most difficult to describe in written words the
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conditions one notices immediately between east and west germany. dad's cousin lives in the old family house. in his day it must've been a beautiful place. in our standards, we might call it a slum. she lives on the third floor. the rest of her home is occupied by other people. this is due to the great housing shortages. they do not have hot water, flush toilets, etc. they cannot get materials and help to keep their homes in good repair. she pointed out the glass factory that was started by our great-grandfather. now is run by the government." sorry, i'm a little emotional. "she was curious about our living conditions, what kind of houses we lived in. will be allowed to live without having to share our homes with strangers, etc." he closes by saying, "we are fortunate to live in the usa and what we have." >> how often do you take out that letter? >> gee, i have not taken it out
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for quite a long time. i found it in some old papers. i shared it with my cousin who is my his uncle is my dad. it was a couple of years ago. i have not looked at it since but never merit it when i heard the discussions today. >> i appreciate you sharing it with us in our viewers. andy is next out of indianapolis. your memories from number 9, november 1989? >> i was 17 then. i was ready to fight the communists, the socialists, the bad guys, the reds. and then all of a sudden it collapsed. i was 17 years old. at 18 i joined the army,
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the u.s. army. and, it was suddenly very different because the soviet union collapsed. the next thing we know saddam is our enemy. we were there and we were ready. i was in basic training. we were going after saddam, not these red, pinko communists. these bad guys that we always knew. how strange was that. but then, hey, we've got a job to do. we've got to do it and do it well. that is the way it was. now we find ourselves in, oh my god, all these jihadis, these al qaeda ties,
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these isis ties. >> what is the lesson you take from all that? >> you know, socialism and all that and the squad and these crazy socialist types, they don't know american history. and the younger ones, they don't know american history.
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they don't how bad socialism is. i mean it is like they have got no idea of what american history was before 1995 or 1999 or something. it is like they are so stupid they can't figure it out. yet we have a whole generation of these people that just want to go, oh yeah, this socialist idea, this bernie sanders thing. we want to follow it and we want to do it. you guys have no idea.
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>> this is mike out of indiana. this is michael out of taylorsville, north carolina. good morning. >> i would just like to share. i am not a german citizen. i came to this country when i was six years old. i went back when i was 18 and started working for the u.s. army, working for the u.s. army from 1976 up until 1991. my view is i remember sitting in heidelberg, germany at the barracks, and international barracks. we had
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this old projection television. we were sitting there watching this unfold. i was sitting there with german soldiers, british soldiers, american soldiers, civilians. we were like, what is going to happen? there was a feeling of unease. there was a feeling of euphoria. it is hard to describe. as a german i felt, hey, i got my country back. i am 62 years old. i was there when the wall was put up. i was there when it came down. i have been to east germany. i was over there in 1982. i was married to a canadian. that was the only way i was allowed to travel there. we got the checkpoint charlie and we were met by east german border guards with machine guns. they took our car apart. they took all the reading with serial. there was a stars & stripes newspaper and a herald tribune. all my cassette tapes and anything that had any kind of printed message on it. they took the backseats out of the car. they said put your car back together and move on. the whole time we were in east germany >> they made you put your car back together? they did not have the courtesy to do it?
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>> no, they stood there with a machine gun. ok, put your backseat back in and get out here. it was not a warm reception to say the least. they frowned at that time. pretty much the height of the cold war. we had german license plates on our car. they knew i was west german and she was canadian. i could have tactically because i was with her. they basically followed us the whole time we were in east berlin. it is like you see in the movies. there was a guy in a leather trenchcoat that every time you turn around was standing there. i have pictures in my living room of the changing of the guard with a goose stepped in front of their police building or whatever. i was taking pictures. the man with the trenchcoat came over and asked me why i was taking the pictures. i said it is for historical purposes. i think it is interesting. he just kind of walked away. >> thank you for sharing that. on the idea of espionage in berlin and the significance of
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that, stick around. in the next segment of the washington journal steve vogel, author and former washington post correspondent who worked in berlin about that topic specifically. thank you for sharing your memories. randy is in fayetteville, north carolina. go ahead. >> thank you for taking my call, c-span. i enjoy watching your program. i was stationed in germany in 1984. i remember vividly the berlin wall. i was in the military at the time. i served in the third infantry in germany. i was stationed about 45 minutes from the czechoslovakian border. we were on a field exercise, not knowing that the wall was about
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to fall. i have a lot of memories of germany. the transition of time. the disco bombing in berlin. i listened to the gentleman talking about espionage that was going on. that was one of the main reasons. there was a lot of tension going on over there. i remember in 1985. a lot of people forget about that. moammar qaddafi. i remember qaddafi was going on over there at that time. the bombing. i got married in germany. we
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showed you george h. w. bush his first public reaction to the news about the fall of the berlin wall on november 9th 1989. in that clip that you saw you saw secretary of state james baker in the oval office with him and sees ben talked with secretary baker last week about his memories about being in the oval office that day in what it was like to watch the fall of the berlin wall from the white house. this is secretary baker from rice university down in houston texas talking about where he was when he heard about the news on november 9th 1989. >> i was hosting a lunch for the president in the philippines and at the state
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department at that time was the president of the philippines and was hosting a lunch for her when an aide passed me a note saying that the east german government had just announced that they were going to permit traffic from east germany to west germany i read the no to the assembled group at the table and proposed a toast an excused myself to go to the white house to meet with president bush. >> i really don't remember the words of the toast and that it's the importance of the event and to the context of freedom and since harry truman. it's george h. w. bush who said dumb things about that. and
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being quite the move as well. >> what we are presidential ways like with. >> iran's weight to the white house and the president big they were discussing what the nature of the reaction would be and he was quite clear and was amount into winning the cold war. and we don't -- we have a lot of business left to do with miguel gorbachev and ed ward to the far ambassador and there's
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were reformers that we were working with and continue to support. we had a lot of work to do and the president think i don't think we're going to stick it in there i. the probably recall that he held a press conference there in the oval office and sitting there at the desk next to him. and the press were all over him about why are you being more emotional about this. after all, this is something america and our western allies fought for for 40 years. he said, i'm not an emotional kind of guy and he said i'm happy about this but i don't think we need to dance on the ruins of the berlin wall. >> was he emotional once the reporters left the room and what was it like in the hours and the evening afterwards?
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>> >> he was extremely happy as we all were but he was counseling us to be careful and not to come across and not to be triumphalist because we still out a lot of work to do. with those soviet leaders that are still on there and supporting governments that we were opposing. people tend to forget that and it was a wonderful moment and guess, what we had fought for for 40 years plus i've been mood very forward. but the president was quite right and saying we got a lot of work to do and we are not gonna stick it in there i. >> before november the 9th,
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light and were you sure that the wall would come down? was there a point? >> we were not all that sure that the wall would come down and i'll tell you that quite frankly the collapse of the wall on that day came as somewhat of a surprise, even though we knew that there had been protests and human rights protests for freedom all across the capital in the nations of eastern europe and spreading from there. we knew that the trend was in the right direction as we were concerned but i don't think anybody could've told you that the soviets could've told you that that was going to happen on that day. on a rather low level the eastern official made an announcement with visas. it was
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interpreted to mean that they would open the gates and let people freely pass between east and west germany. i'm not sure that was exactly the message that this low level functioning got and remember his name who intended to convey. >> when was the next time you're able to get to berlin after that day? >> i can't really recall. i was next there but i did take a trip down and i was the only secretary of state ever to have gone to eastern many. i when across the bridge of spies and into potsdam at a time when an american official hadn't done that because the cold war was identify. >> i want to end with one of
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the questions a president but got in that press conference that you described on that day and it was asked is this the end of the iron curtain. what are you thinking when that question was asked what we thought that day. >> we still had a lot of work to do. it did look like it was the beginning and if not the end or the beginning of the end of the iron. or but before that we had been given president bush and i had been given pieces of the iron curtain in hungary. this was the first country to start dismantling parts and it wasn't the law of the iron curtain that's piece
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of the barbed why are represented there. that had happened a little bit before but no one really anticipated the events that occurred on eighth and ninth. >> you have any sections of the wall? >> i'm speaking to you from the james baker institute and we have a big section of the wall of our building here on the campus of rice university. in fact, we had an event here not long ago but foreign ministers will that was serving for great britain, france and the united states and one of the most moving things for me was the day after this all happened. i got a call from the foreign
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minister and i said hello before you went on the line is secretary said mister secretary i have minister catcher for you but before i put on the line must i say to you god bless america. i found that to be an extraordinary moving tone and pace statement. >> secretary james baker. >> thanks. >> were back in the berlin wall gallery in washington d.c.. your calls and memories at the berlin wall fell and this is elizabeth thanks for waiting and good morning. >> good morning. i wanted to say to die experienced east germany and to west germany.
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what happened was until almost the 1989, the news for the east germans was tightened more and more. in the 1950's and 1960's we could send clothing and packages to east germany for the people because they did not have very much. eventually we had to send new clothing. i sent american dollars when i came to this country in carbon paper to east germany so the woman could buy some groceries. i experience the hungarian
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revolution. i never thought that berlin or east germany would become free. i have a person in east germany that i called and he was very drunk because he never thought the wall would come down. i never thought it did. i cried and cried and cried. i had visited east germany in 1959 with we traveled to various cities. the people that housed us, that gave us meals, they were so thrilled, and i don't know how they afforded food in 1959. to feed us. but, they had menus and the best restaurants you could go to. for me, germany was united. i was born in east
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russia, but to me, germany united is a gift. that's all it is. >> elizabeth, thanks for your call and memories from 30 years ago and belonged and beyond. the museum. you may see the public behind the scenes this morning with us as we continue the discussions. this is paul in washington, d.c. paul, good morning. >> good morning and thank you for c-span. i was in washington, d.c. and i was 46 when the wall came down. i recall, vividly, a cartoon by the cartoonist herblock that road for the washington post. herblock was quite a good artist. not quite at the level of daumier, but not bad. he did a picture of a young german couple, the man was representing the west, the
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woman was representing the east, and they were looking at each other with fond gaze, and it was absolutely no doubt no words were necessary except for the caption with an indication of reunification happening. do you recall it and can you show it? >> i don't recall it, paul, but you mentioned the washington post. we have a long time washington post correspondent and reporter up next in just a moment. a stick around for that discussion. later, we will be joined by another author to discuss the history of germany post-berlin wall, but first, before we get to those interviews, more from nbc news special report that aired 30 minutes ago today. the focus in this part of the riposte the report on the escape tunnels used to get into west berlin. >> in 1962, a documentary showed the tunnel under the wall to bring 59 people to
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freedom. >> every six feet, they planted two uprights and across them, a 4 x 4 which held up the wooden ceiling. the digger, the man with the beard, was a refugee himself. he had fled east germany after 4.5 years in a communist prison. now, he pulled the clay with a spade, twisting in a space three feet by three feet. barely roomier than a coffin. on thursday, september 13, they made their last inspection. in august, the builders of another tunnel had broken through into a cellar and looked into the eyes and gun barrels of communist police. some were killed and
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some were captured. in 10 minutes, the first of the refugees would come. death was not the greatest danger. prison camps can be worse. one of the diggers watched his daughter come through. his wife had spent ten months and i communist prison for trying to follow him in their second child was born in jail i. tonight, for the first time, he held his baby. >> back in the berlin wall gallery in washington, d.c. author steve vogel joins us now for a conversation about a different kind of tunnel, this was not used for escape but for espionage. steve, good morning to you. explain what operation goal was. >> this was in the years before
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the wall was constructed, so at that time, berlin was an open city. you had people, divided city but open. people were in the east, coming across the border tens of thousands per week and vice versa. they visited friends, went to jobs in the east and west, went shopping, but a lot of them were also involved in espionage. the u.s. and allies at that point had none of the later overhead technology that we come to expect, like the u-2 or satellites. there was a forest based in east germany that was that had more or less been there since the world war ii, and we had, on the west, little idea what we were up to. we had lost a source of intercepted radio communications when the soviets had discovered we were intercepting the radio calls. we were more or less fighting
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the cold war blind. the british secret intelligence service and cia came up with this idea of digging a tunnel from west berlin into east berlin, not to help anybody get out, but to tap into soviet communication lines. berlin was the center of soviet communication, and you had these lines that connected the red army headquarters back into moscow and other points of eastern europe. very important communications. they were across the border they were very important communications. they were across the border. >> steve vogel speaking on this. the true story of berlin's most audacious espionage operation. when it comes to operation gold, what is special? >> that's the big question. there are a lot of moving points. the most important
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moving part is a british spy named george blake who, at the time the tunnel was conceived, was one of the very few people in western intelligence either in the cia or the british sis who knew about the tunnel. he was also acting as an agent for the kgb. he had a remarkable life and was held prisoner in north korea for three years during the war there. it had turned at some point to the other side, and he had turned at some point to the other side. he knew this tunnel was being planned and he got it to the kgb. but, the kgb was afraid to do anything because blake was one of literally a handful of western intelligent people that know about the tunnel. doing anything to stop the tunnel would expose blake. this becomes a dilemma for the kgb. >> and that story in steve vogel's book. can you tell us about the city of berlin and
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its role in espionage battle throughout the cold war, and how that world changed after the wall went up. operation gold took place before 1960 one, before the wall went up. what changed when the wall went up 1961, before the wall went up. what changed when the wall went up? >> berlin was the capital of espionage in the world. you have people across, east and west, they could carry information, meet with in a safe house with their cia handlers, and vice versa. berlin was, at one point, along with vienna, to a lesser extent, where you had all four of the powers, the british, soviets, and americans together. they were behind the iron curtain, and this was the one place where we had a window view into
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the soviet union and satellites. the tunnel was one of the ways they came up to get that information came up with to get that information. you had, by some estimates, as many as 10,000 people involved in espionage operations and berlin. he couldn't walk down the street properly without running into someone. that all depended on the free access, taking access. one of the problems the east germans had was that they were losing so many people. only refugees were coming into the west, in other words, taking the transport across a never coming back. that was a big problem. espionage was another issue the
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kgb tried to clack down on that crackdown on. when the wall was built, all of a sudden, almost overnight, we lose this free access that we were unable to get most of the information that we were able to get prior to the wall being built. it is no longer the espionage center that it was during the 50's, which was its heyday. >> espionage, berlin, and the berlin wall is our focus for this segment of "washington journal" here at the berlin wall gallery at the museum at the time of the day where the newseum comes alive. you can see people around the exhibit as we continue our discussion as you call in. this is rob from phoenix, arizona. rob, you are on with steve vogel. >> good morning, john and steve. i have a couple anecdotal stories i would like to tell about when i was in berlin. i was in west berlin after the wall, and had a girlfriend there who told me stories about what it was like to grow up there, and she said all of the young girls would go to meet the guards at the different sectors, the tommies
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and armies, french, and they would get their first kiss from a soldier guard in those sectors, but funny things happen to her. she said she cried when the wall went down because she said it is our wonderful wall, because it gave them a special life in west berlin that people only experience because of the wall, and not all of the interest in berlin. those are a couple little stories i remember. i have a lot more, but i will leave it at that. >> rob, thanks. steve vogel spent a lot of time and was born in berlin. >> right. the wall almost created a time capsule in the east. if you are able to go across through checkpoint charlie into the east those years, it's like moving back in time. partly because so much of the world war ii debris was still there that was still there had been cleaned up, but it was a simpler existence over
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there. to some extent, it has been romanticized since the years in the year since the wall came down, and there's a great mental divide between easterners and westerners in terms of how they look at a unified germany, but it was a remarkable place, being born there. the wall was put up one year after i was born. my dad used to joke that they built it to keep me out. (laughs) >> and you were there not long after the wall came down. >> yeah, no, i had arrived in germany in september of 1989 to work with a freelance journalist for the washington post in army times and other publications. i was in munich on the night the wall came down. i was sitting in my apartment watching tv in germany to try to in german to
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try to improve my german. the talking horse, mr. ed, was on. they broke into a script saying the wall is falling. i got on the first plane i could to get to berlin and went straight to checkpoint charlie, which was a madhouse. streams of people coming over. the mps were more or less joining in the party. usually it was strict and sober minded as a place, but at that point, people were running around with champagne and schnapps and the guards much threw up their hands. it was a joy to see. >> what do you do as a journalist, where do you turn to in that moment? >> you try to find ordinary people and talk to the germans coming over. i try to talk to the mps themselves. these were kids from all across america, and none of them had seen this coming. they were caught up in the moment, and feeling the joy. one of them said we are
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part of history now, we are right here doing this. i also looked for some of the brash brass like general haddock. you sort of get the view from the you try to get the view from the top and he is trying to portray that everything remained calm, nothing is changing here, kind of this status quo, but there was all this evidence all around that it really wasn't the status quo. >> back to the phone lines on the phone line for german-americans. this is bruce out of charlotte, north carolina. good morning. >> good morning. i'm german through my father's side of the family who started coming over here in 1860's and 1870's, but we are all linked together. i was stationed in germany in the military in the 70's, and we were facing 30,000 soviet warsaw pack tanks. our duty was
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to stop that's massive armor in the event of war. we also had a terrorist problem. two gangs were active during that time. it was common to see german police running around with submachine guns. it was a clean country, but they had problems back then. >> bruce, thank for sharing your memories. >> absolutely. terrorists was a big fear at that point for sure. the american soldiers there were sometimes targets of that. there was the famous bombing at the berlin disco that was later tied to it, and i remember going out on patrols
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with some of the american soldiers, near the folded gap. this was two weeks before the wall came down. the tension that existed, the feeling that they were at the tip of the spear, that any moment you could have an attack launched, was very real for those guys. i talked to these guys later, after the walking down, and you had the second army cavalry regiment, and it took a long time for them to accept that the world was changing. >> how concerned where they that russia was going to respond with some sort of military response after the wall came down? >> that was a concern, but signals that are coming into washington from moscow and elsewhere was that gorbachev would not do something like that. but, that didn't mean the guys down on the front line
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didn't have to worry about it, because things can turn out differently than what they are being told from washington or moscow or wherever. they were very much on guard for that initial time in the confusion on whether you do, within a year or two, have an attempted coup in the soviet union, so things could have changed quickly and people were aware of that. >> this is penny in new york. good morning. penny, are you with us this morning? >> i'm sorry, it's bernie. >> bernie, go ahead. >> i called in because i was born in germany, during the war, and i afterwards ended up living in east germany, the worker's paradise. at some point, my parents had family in
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the states, my father's mother, and immigrated here in the 20's and had established himself in upstate new york. they decided to seriously they couldn't flee east germany, and let me just mention how we managed to get out. it goes back to the earlier this was in 1956, we left five years before the wall was established. what happened at the time is that my mother received a permit for her and myself to go west to germany to visit a sister that lived there. the communists gave us that currently, but my father had to stay behind. he was not allowed to come with us. i suspect that's because if all three of us left, they knew we would not be coming back. my mother and i went on vacation, and before the four weeks
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expired, we should have returned, my father took a case and made it look like he was on a business trip, had a permit from his workplace to go to berlin, one of his supervisors gave him that slip at some risk. he arrived in berlin in the russian sector, and i don't know if he used the subway or the taxi, whatever, but moved over into the american sector, which included an airfield, and he flew out to west berlin, and that is how we were reunited. we then applied to come to the states and it all worked out well. so, i have been living here for 60 years. >> thanks for sharing your families story. what do you take from that? >> there are so many stories like that, so many remarkable stories. some are seldom successful. as the wall was being constructed, some people took that chaotic time to make an escape. quickly after that,
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the east germans began sealing off all of the different escape routes and tricks people using to get across. you had families that were divided that, in many cases, wouldn't reach it for many years. there were moments of real joy of people escaping and moments of tragedy. i remember the daughter of the farmer under whose land the espionage tunnel was built. by that point, it had been dug up. she and her friends used to wish they still have the tunnel down there that they could use to escape into west berlin. >> steve vogel, our guest, brick trail in berlin betrayal in berlin. we've been talking about operation gold along with your memories, your thoughts on the legacy of the berlin wall,
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30 years after the fall of the wall. this is penny in new york. >> can you hear me? >> yes, ma'am. >> i'm 47. my grandfather was a world war ii hero. seven combat jumps. i was, on november 9, i was living in western pennsylvania. i was going to a city and rounds ville, pennsylvania, and i applied to a program called open door, so i ended up being an ambassador representing western pennsylvania for the united states of america in germany. we left d.c. abbasid or representing western pennsylvania for the united states of america in germany. we left d.c. when you are interviewing george bush, i remember our first two months
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in cologne. we were all told to go to the embassy and george bush got on the line and said, you know it was very heartfelt when he said this to us. he said i can't recommend that you stay for the year, or that you come home. he also said if you stay, i highly recommend that you act as a german, because that was our job. i wanted to promote freedom, and teach the countries on how to be free. even my grandfather never wanted me to go. the day before i got on the plane, he said please don't go and i said i will promote freedom. this is so healing to my heart, this program. i appreciate all of it because i have so many memories. i'm writing a book, and this is so encouraging to me, because for 10 months, i was in hamburg, germany and i got to go to berlin often. i got to be to teach the eastern
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bloc countries in berlin, with a company called cardos. i did hair when i was over there too so i got to do a lot of different things. when i spent the day with some east germans on the east berlin side, it was so joyous. the people were so loving and caring. the whole time i was over there, for the whole year, everyone was so joyous, but unfortunately, we did have that on our backs where people wanted to kill us because we were american. >> thanks for sharing your stories and memories this morning. steve vogel, your thoughts on that and how long you ended up staying in germany
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and berlin after the fall of the wall. >> i completely understand that emotion and that feeling. i ended up i was only going to stay in germany for two months to try my hand at freelancing, and all of a sudden, you have this revolution on your hands. the berlin wall begins triggering all of these other huge ramifications, leading quickly to unification. i ended up staying for five years. the pace of the change here, both for germany, all of europe, and for the united states, which had this large force in germany, and there is all of a sudden the questions about what happens to the american presence in europe. then, you have these things like the gulf war breaking out, and these forces in germany are sent out to cover that. this is a transformation in america's role centered in europe, and you had all of these issues in germany that pop up, the rise
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of right-wing radicalism as refugees continued to stream into germany, kind of the same issues we see today. that was all happening quickly. >> this is mary out of batesville, arkansas. good morning. >> hi. in 1974, i was with the uso and we were in germany for about a month because there were so many bases over there. we got to ride the duty train through east germany to berlin
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and we were told not to look out the window because they will shoot you. you're not supposed to look at the guards when we stopped at the train, all of the different stations, but of course we did. it was quite i have a lot of pictures and i often think about that. i get them out and look at it, because it was so, so awful. it was awful. i enjoyed my time there. berlin was so tray chic. they had discos, the fashion sector, and it was across the wall, this bleak, cold place. and across the wall, it was this bleak, cold place. >> our next caller. >> thank you for taking my call. my family was in the service and army, and when it all came down, yeah, it was surreal in a sense, but it was also kind of expected. at the lower level. it was started over in poland really, and the way it spread and, believe it or not, the influence of american soldiers all over that
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area, they loved our style. i'm talking western style. look at what happened. america the whole area got better, but i'm looking at it this way, that there's a lot to be appreciated about what the americans have done, and what nato did, and the way nato is getting stepped on now is kind of interesting. anyways, i appreciate that. evita zhang. > >> > steve vogel, your thoughts. >> both of the calls were interesting. reguarding nato, we look back on 30 years ago and there was a great division in germany about the presence of nato. some people were happy to have the western forces over there, but there was a lot of antagonism over the years, damage being done by u.s.
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troops training. you get the feeling that it was an occupation, but it is funny, berlin was one of the places where the american troops were always welcomed. it was very little of the anti-american feeling that you might experience elsewhere in germany. in berlin, there was appreciation that they were this island in the middle of east germany, and without having western presence there things could have turned out very differently. the previous caller was discussing that it was a tense journey to travel from the west either from western germany into berlin. if
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you drive the audubon along the restricted routes, it was like traveling back in time again, and you did feel crossing the border points with these huge guard towers and machine guns and all of that that it was a different time. >> you talk about tense moments. i want you to bring it back to operation gold and the days after the tunnel was discovered on the eastern side of east berlin. we have a picture of a press conference i believe that was held by the east germans after they found the tunnel. explain what the reaction was. >> it was a surprise for everyone because the cia and british intelligence had assumed that once the tunnel was discovered, the soviets and east germans would keep it quiet because they would be embarrassed about the fact that western intelligence had tapped into their communication lines, but the kgb and soviets had a completely different idea. they wanted to embarrass the americans and use it as a propaganda coup to prove that the americans are only using
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berlin as a nest of spies, and that they are here because of their espionage center. and look at this dirty tunnel they dug to spy, this is an outrage, a violation of german territory and sort both so forth. they had this press conference and invited every reporter in west germany. this was before cell phones, but they managed to get hundreds of reporters on the scene within half an hour. they took them to the site in the southern corner of the german americans soviet sector. it was a sensation and people could not believe what they were seeing. there was a very sophisticated command center down there, like a battleship. they had an incredible amount of taped conversations down there. >> it's a story you can read
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about in steve vogel's book, but trail in berlin, the true story of cold war's most audacious espionage operation. appreciate you telling part of that store this morning. >> my pleasure. >> next on the "washington journal, " we are joined with >> my pleasure. >> next on the "washington journal, " we are joined with author hope harrison to discuss the berlin wall falling. at first, more from the nbc news special report on november 9, 1989. this was the beginning of the 11:30 p.m. broadcast that evening. to freedom for all. what you're seeing now is taking place at 5:30 in t >> berlin, you are looking at a live picture of the berlin wall shortly before the dawn of a new day, a day that will see this border open to freedom for all. what you're seeing now is
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taking place at 5:30 in the morning, berlin time. these crowds, mostly young people, spent their whole night celebrating the opening of the wall, welcoming the tens of thousands of east germans coming across from the east to the west. we are truly privileged tonight. we are eyewitnesses to history. who on either side of the berlin wall or in this country would have believed this morning that this day would end the way it has and with a very simple of the division of europe, the division of the free world, becoming irrelevant. that is the result of the stunning to surprise decision by east
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germany leaders. east germany's germans may now cross into west germany directly, even through the berlin wall itself. tonight, germans on both sides of the wall couldn't wait to test the new freedom. these were sites on thinkable only a few hours ago. the young westerman's top the concrete barrier moving to help the east germans up the wall. jubilance and graffiti were once where there was only despair. for 28 years, the wall has been an integral part of berlin life, something that was just there. tonight, it symbolizes something else, the failure of an east german government to resist the wave of change over soviet bloc nations and the sound new freedom, the chipping away of the wall itself. >> back in the berlin wall gallery at the museum in washington, d.c. we welcome hope harrison, the author of the book "after the berlin wall, memories in the making of the new germany, 1989 to present." hope harrison, on the first page, you note the history and meaning of the berlin wall remains controversial today in germany. why is that? >> the big lessons of the wall, what it really was, some of the former leaders were still around and were vocal,
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especially emphasized it was a piece border, doing what they needed to do, what any sovereign state could do. people who were family members of people who were killed at the wall have a very different view on the legitimacy of the wall and see it as a terrible, violent thing. >> what are your thoughts on how germany is marking the anniversary today? is this a day of celebration in germany, a day of remembrance, what is your view, looking at what happened so far this weekend what's happening today. >> they've been busy all week with the climax today and i think they do multiple things. they always come on the anniversary of the fall of the wall, commemorate the people who lost their lives for whom the wall fell too late. they celebrate the glorious moment of the peaceful fall to the wall, and many germans feel proud of this. after the
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holocaust and the heavy weight of history on germany's shoulders, to feel there is something in their contemporary history they can be proud of, this peaceful fall of the wall and these germans who took to the street, calling for change, including taking down the wall, but they also realized 30 years after the fall of the wall, some people in the east are frustrated that although there have been major strides made between east and west, there is fewer differences, especially economics, and that gap has not been completely closed yet. >> are there people today in germany that want to forget the berlin wall? >> i think there are always people that want to forget some difficult part of the past. certainly some of the people who suffered and maybe have post-traumatic stress disorder because of it, it is easier to forget, but many germans feel it is so important to remember
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and teach young generations what it was like 28 years when that wall stood. and certainly, in this day and age, when so many walls are going up around the world, and countries neighboring germany, many germans feel it is important to remember that time when the wall came down. >> for our last 25 minutes on the "washington journal" today, we are talking with hope harrison, the author of "after the berlin wall: memory and the making of the new germany, 1989 to the present." you can see the berlin wall gallery here at the newseum in washington, d.c. starting to fill in with the tour groups and others. we are taking a look at the largest intact piece of the wall outside of germany, here at the newseum. we are taking the calls on the phone calls. if you are in eastern or central time zones, guest: for mountain or if your in eastern or
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central time zones, (202) 748-8000. (202) 748-8001 for mountain or pacific. (202) 748-8002 for german-americans. douglas go ahead. >> i was stationed in berlin from 1983 to 1989, and the things to remember is that the americans, in the 1950's, we had the berlin airlift to support the people in berlin. in the 1980's, we had president reagan telling us to tear down the wall, and in the 1980's also, hest died hest died, people were circumventing the wall going from east germany into checkless a blocky a and
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west germany checkless lamacchia checkless love bockius it was a time for the wall to come down and have freedom for these berliners. and all of the warsaw pact countries. i also forgot to remember to and forgot to mention on december 21, when they were invading panama, we were all having the berlin wall torn down both between the right stock and brandenburg gate. it was the best time in the world. >> hope harrison here to talk about the things to remember about the berlin wall. >> let me just say it is wonderful to be here with the only east german guard tower outside of germany. i hope very much they will find a place to keep these, because they are
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such important historic artifacts. speaking of memory of the fall of the wall, i myself was on a plane, headed to berlin on the night of november 9 when the wall fell as i was on the commuter flight to west berlin, the pilots got on the intercom and said, ladies and gentlemen, in case you haven't heard, the berlin wall fell last night, and we are flying into history. i couldn't believe my luck. i was there on the ground in berlin for 10 amazing days. i got my own pieces of the wall, i watched the incredibly moving scenes of west germans welcoming these east germans, coming into west berlin--- >> our viewers are seeing the picture standing in front of the wall. explain where you were. >> that picture is right in front of the brandenburg gate. this was two days after the wall had opened. they had put, as you can see, the east german border soldiers back on top of the wall, trying to keep a bit of order, hoping nobody, with all the partying they didn't
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want anybody to fall off and have any injury, so it was an amazing time to be there. something i will never forget, that's for sure. >> what's the history of how germany has remembered the berlin wall, about the larger story of reunification in germany. >> at the beginning, people didn't want to remember it. they wanted to move on and tear it down. then, they realized they needed to commemorate the victims, and they put money into researching exactly who was killed trying to escape. i write about one of those people, a 20-year-old who, on december 1, 1984, was killed while trying to cross. it was to walls, armed guards in between, and many other border obstacles in between the external and internal wall. in 2009, 10 years ago, the way germans
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focused on the memory of the wall changed. for the first time, they focused on the positive history of the fall of the wall and courageous east germans took to the streets, calling for change and brought that down. now, on the 30th anniversary, while there are many people celebrating, there are also some people as a minority, but a loud minority expressing their frustration that they have not still achieved western levels economically or in terms of the respect sometimes that they feel they are shown as being from the east. >> with just about 20 minutes left on the "washington journal" today, on c-span and on c-span3 on american history tv, taking your phone calls. this is jean out of detroit, michigan. good morning. >> good morning. i just want to say that i was 46 or whatever
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at the time of the fall of the wall, and i was happy for the people, but i also felt apprehension at the reunification because of germany having been involved in world war ii i'm sorry, world war i and world war ii. i think that it made me realize even more, since then, the importance of nato in preventing a third world war. i hope our current president realizes the history. thank you. >> thank for the call. hope harrison. >> yes. when the wall fell, many germans were happy, but the brits, french, soviets,
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polish, and many others were worried. just as that caller mentioned, we particularly remember nazi germany. and, wondering what is going to happen now. will it be the nationalism, aggression, and aggressive country, and it was only president george h w bush in the u.s. who wasn't afraid. that's partly because we lost fewer than the other countries did in world war ii and were separated by the atlantic ocean from germany, but president bush felt confident the democratic west germany that was our allies throughout the cold war, was mature enough, strong enough to absorb east germany and become the same kind of democratic peaceful, multilateral nation that west germany had been. but, it was very important to bush that this new united germany stay in nato. he lobbied strongly for that, and ultimately, together with chancellor cole, persuaded gorbachev, who really had to sign on the dotted line, giving up his trophy from world war ii
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in east germany, and ultimately in the summer of 1990, gorbachev agreed so, on october 3, 1990, germany united and had the right to decide 1990, germany united and had the right to decide what alliance it wanted to be a part of. nato is the answer. >> one of our callers brought up november 9 is not just significant for the history of the berlin wall falling but also significant in the history of the holocast. >> exactly. november 9, 1938 was the night of broken glass, a terrible night when the nazis attacked jews in their homes, businesses, synagogues, and the fact that that november 9 also occurred is the reason the
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german unification day is not november 9. the emotional day for everyone, having to do with unification, is november 9, the fall of the wall, but they couldn't do it on november 9 because of what had happened in 1938. so, they picked october 3. >> out of michigan, this is jean, good morning. >> i was just on. >> sorry about that. this is john in princeton, west virginia. good morning. >> i was wanting to comment. i was 12 years old when this happened, and i didn't know a whole lot of what was going on, but we had a neighbor that had came over during world war ii, and had married the man that lived next to us. when the wall fell, shortly after, her niece came over from the east, and i
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was so amazed at how she was in all of everything in awe of everything. we always joked we were 20 years behind the rest of the country, ourselves. but, she was in awe of the television shows and being able to go from state to state without papers or permission. i had no idea they had to do that. she was just so humble, and a very intelligent girl, but she was just in awe and so grateful of being over here. it gives all of us a new appreciation for being an american. it was a humbling experience for us, too. just being 12 years old, it gave a whole new perspective on the world. it kind of opened it up for us too. >> john, thanks for the call. hope harrison. >> we who grew up in a democratic system often take it for granted. sometimes, we can
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see a new through the eyes of people who had not had the privilege and good fortune of growing up in such a system. the former president of germany, someone who came from the east, always speaks of the tears in his eyes when he first got to participate in free elections. the first and last east german free election in march of 1990, where there voted they voted for rapid unification. he voted with tears in his eyes. people in many democratic countries don't go out and vote, and exercise the rights and privileges that we have as democratic citizens. >> our next caller comes out of los angeles, california. good morning. >> good morning. this has been a very emotional event for me, because of my family history. my father had been a jew who
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was protected by a catholic priest and made it so the through the nazi area, and he was a journalist and he took me to berlin and east germany one time, because he was made the americans made him mayor of a german city. it's an unbelievable story, but then the wall came down. it was such an emotional event for me, most life-changing event in my life. i remember going through the tv trying to find coverage anywhere and i came across c-span. i was introduced to c-span because of the berlin wall coming down, and it was brian lamb sitting in east berlin, and front of like a restaurant. it had a table there, and a chair, and he sat outside of the restaurant and talked to people, two east berliners that were walking by to east berliners that were walking by. it was the most unbelievable view to have and
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sitting in east berlin talking to the east germans about their reaction. i was wondering if you could ever show that again. >> the nice thing is that it is available anytime you want to watch it at our website at if you type in the search bar at the type of the day, brian lamb, and search by the date, november of 1989, you will be able to find it. thanks for bringing it up and watching c-span for so long. this is john out of rockford, illinois. you are next. go ahead. >> good morning. i was stationed in the army in berlin, and i'm sure a lot of people don't realize that we had small firefights when we were there. one of the guys in my company was injured. we also used to travel up and down the autobahn in convoy to keep the autobahn open. can you hear me?
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>> did you want to add to your thoughts? >> beg pardon? >> did you have anything more you wanted to add? >> well i also told standard guard duty at a prison. that's about all i had to offer. >> thanks for those memories. hope harrison on the memories of the soldiers who served in berlin, the american soldiers, and the british soldiers, the french as well. you wrote about them in your book did you write about them in your book? >> i read about them in their parts of helping take down the wall. in some cases, the german government asked the allied powers for their help in removing segments of the wall, and some of those were also allowed to take segments back home to london, to paris, to washington, but there are so many american soldiers that have served in germany throughout the cold war. and in berlin. that was a strong
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connection. after unification, when it was decided the troops would leave, and particularly the soviet troops would leave, while most germans, particularly in the east, were happy about the soviet troops leaving, there were others much more there was much more in most know emotional involvement with having the americans leave. people that felt so indebted to them for defending freedom, and this has been an important basis of the u.s.-german ties for large number of american soldiers who had served there over time, and
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exposed so many americans to the beauty of germany and how interesting it is. i'm sure many people watching had that experience. my own father was based from 1950 to 1954 in germany as one of them. >> about 10 minutes left in the program this morning. live from the newseum, you can see the berlin wall gallery at the newseum coming alive. more and more visitors coming on this day, the 30th anniversary of the fall of the berlin wall. here to see the unaltered portions of the berlin wall, the largest displayed unaltered portions of the relay wall berlin wall. it is here at the newseum. we are taking your phone calls regionally. mark is next out of shelbyville, indiana. good morning. >> good morning. i lived in berlin from 1979 to 1985. i was a bartender not far from where you are now. i loved that city. had it not been for a tragedy in my family, i would never have left. when i visit, it's hard to leave. to me, there are a lot of things to talk about,
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but what i remember, besides being upset i wasn't there, was the substance of it. the people that had lived there, i never thought i would have saw the wall fall in my lifetime, and is kind of the way history turns. i'm sure there were things leading up to it, but the actual event itself was sudden and a little shocking to me. >> mark, thanks for the call. hope harrison. >> the actual event was not supposed to happen. it was a mistake by a senior east german official who didn't read his notes carefully. suddenly, he announced the wall was open, which it wasn't supposed to be. then, the border soldiers, at the crossing points, had to decide, and it was harold yeager who made the decision at about 11:30 that night, facing thousands of people, saying didn't you see the news? it's
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supposed to be open. he finally opened it. at that border crossing point, angela merkel herself, the current german chancellor, was one of the 20,000 east germans who crossed over from east to west on that very night. i'm a historian, and i also talk to my students about the role of chance. there were many things pushing in this direction's poland had thrown direction. poland had thrown up the communist regime, but this one official said the wrong thing and the double chance that harold yeager, the official at the border decided to open it. >> i wonder what you think of the headlines in the wall street journal today. there are special segments of the fall of the berlin wall. the headline, "history made by ordinary
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people." talking about the german official and border guard. >> absolutely. the official was not an ordinary person except in the sense that he made a mistake. he showed his humanness and not being prepared, but absolutely, the role of individual people, this is what the germans talk about the most in terms of the lessons of the fall of the wall. they say it was the role of so many brave, individual german citizens who took to the streets, demanding change. in 2019, they tried to use that history as an inspiration and model for all of us now to remember that we can't take democracy and freedom for granted. we, each of us, must be civic lien engaged to stand civic lee engaged to stand up for freedom civically engaged for freedom and democracy. i interviewed over 100 germans for my book. one became persona on gada and he mistakenly opened the wall when he mistakenly opened the wall. he
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was loved by the west. all the western reporters always wanted to talk to him so he was in a strange position having come up through the communist system. suddenly, he was hanging out with the west a lot more. he was put on trial, along with the other leaders, shooting people at the wall. he was the most contrived of any of the german officials for that. he said on trial how wrong it was and that he was ashamed for the role he played. >> time for a couple more calls on the "washington journal" on american history tv today. this
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is maria out of kentucky. good morning. >> yes. i was sitting here and thinking how i would describe my feeling to you, but it's just impossible. absolutely impossible. every year, from october to november, i get the same feeling. i used to work at the hospital, and one of the doctors had a picture on his wall, the famous picture where the soldier stowed his gun away and jumped over to west germany. i had to go in his home every day, and it never got old. i said a little prayer every day. on that november and
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that november, my friends sister from east germany, was here to visit. if they would have the money, they would have been to germany the same day. being from east germany, he didn't have the money, but i wanted to just say that the feeling is so overwhelming, that's all i wanted to say. >> maria, thanks for the call. hope harrison on that and the soldier she referred to. his name was hans conrad shuman., a soldier that was 19 at the time when he jumped over the barbed wire to get from east berlin to west. this was before the concrete wall.
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>> exactly. this was shortly after they sealed the border. the location was now is now the home of the berlin memorial which is seven blocks long along the former death strip. it has an outdoor and indoor exhibit telling people the history of the wall in general, and at that site in particular. on one of the buildings is the huge photograph of conrad schumann throwing off his gun above the barbed wire. that was an inspiration to so many others that even someone who is supposed to be defending this said forget it. i want out. >> time for maybe one or two more calls. this is richard in massachusetts. thanks for waiting. >> good morning. the professor who is on, it is a pleasure listening to her, and c-span. i'm going to make a few comments and i would like her to interpret what i'm going to say and re-clarify it if she
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would like. >> sure. we just have about a minute and a half, so go ahead. >> it was the russians who lost 20 million people in that war. it was the germans who came into russia and committed those atrocities. during the war. there had to have been a lot of bitterness and hatred toward the nation, especial the unification of germany. when allies came in and split the country up and you had france in the united states on one half, and the russians who did all the dirty work. according to them, we would have never won the war anyway. now, they had to do something, so they put the wall up. this conversation i'm hearing is primarily the significance of that wall and what it represented, but if you look at the totality of the totality of the actions of the german nation i had a history professor, and he said as a nation you could never trust
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them. i agree with that. >> the east german leaders had called to close the wall and the soviets resisted for eight years. they finally gave in to the pleas of the east german leaders to seal up the border. over 1000 east germans were fleeing to the west every day. they built the wall that lasted for 28 years but miraculously came down peacefully 30 years ago today. it is wonderful to be here to celebrate that with you all. >> hope's book, the making of the new germany 1989 to the present. we appreciate your time this morning. if you would
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like to learn more about the fall of the berlin wall starting right now on c-span three, a series of nbc news special reports that cover the breaking news that day. a -- we appreciate your time today. >> thank you.
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