1989 and all that….

berlin wallHow many people remember the momentous events of 1989? The revolutions across Eastern Europe, the sense of impending change, the excitement of “people power”?

Chances are, if you’re in your 20s or younger, you’ll have heard that Europe used to be divided by the Berlin Wall, but you didn’t live through those years.

You probably didn’t directly experience the profound changes that swept not just across Europe, but were felt in Africa, Vietnam, Cuba, South America and China.

As part of a season of programmes looking back at 1989, the BBC World Service would like you to get involved in a series of cross-generational interviews – where people in their 20s find out how the world changed from those who were in the thick of change in 1989.

You may want to interview your parents, teachers, friends or relatives. Or if you lived through the events of 1989 – and your life was profoundly changed – we’d love to hear from you.

World Have Your Say will be there too.  Here’s where to go for more details.

Kate Goldberg, WS Interactivity.

15 Responses to “1989 and all that….”

  1. 1 Tom K in Mpls
    July 29, 2009 at 19:11

    I was 29 in the US at the time. To use one word to convey what I saw I would use ‘relaxation’. There was no deep fear, that died in the early 1970s. But it allowed more options and freedom economically. The military refocused and looked to squad tactics with fewer casualties versus divisional strategies with high casualty rates to all in the area. Travel also became more interesting.

  2. 2 Konstantin in Germany
    July 29, 2009 at 19:34

    🙂 🙂 🙂

    I had turned 7 two months earlier. I lived in Bonn (former capital of Germany) and that night, when the GDR opened its borders, it was an entire German celebration. My parents woke me up in the middle of the night and told me the wall is open (having only seen it months before in West-Berlin, where they explained it to me).
    We drove to the Marktplatz in Bonn (one of Bonn’s central places) and it was filled with people celebrating. I never felt such a joyious mood around me again in my life. Only a few years later, I became aware, what had really happened. Two years after the fall, we made a roadtrip through the New Bundesländer. It was then, when I realized, in what conditions people lived in. It was still another world. Visit Cuba or North Korea, for such an experience.
    Our center of life shifted a decade later to Berlin. So the fall of the wall had an immediate effect on us, too. BTW, It was in Berlin, where I started hearing BBC World Service.

    We united. 🙂

    – Konstantin in Clausthal-Zellerfeld, Lower Saxony (no 10 miles from the former border between the West and East)

  3. 3 tipsylife
    July 29, 2009 at 20:34

    It meant the end of the cold war and the end of nuclear threats as enemies started engaging.

  4. July 29, 2009 at 21:50

    you do the crime you pay. except of course if such laws are unreasonable. as is in samantha’s case.

  5. 5 scmehta
    July 30, 2009 at 08:16

    I was in my forties when I watched that Wall being brought down; at that time I felt that the world was coming closer and being safer. But now, in the present times of extreme greed, intolerance, violence and chaos, I sadly feel proved wrong in my hopes; many new virtual ‘walls’ have now been raised to create more & more divides in the societies around the world.

  6. 6 Jack Hughes
    July 30, 2009 at 10:49

    It was a victory for freedom, for democracy, for the oppressed people of eastern europe, and for the human spirit.

    The soviet empire buckled under the strain of the cold war. They lost. The US and NATO won.

    We owe a huge debt to the strong leaders of the west like Reagan and Thatcher.

    It was fashionable at the time to sneer at them or pretend that we could just ignore the real threat posed by the soviet empire. The leftist intelligentsia seemed oblivious to the oppression of millions in eastern europe. History has shown that standing firm and true to our values was the correct policy.

    Reagan was once asked how he wanted the cold war to end:

    “4 words” he answered “we win – they lose”

    • 7 Tom K in Mpls
      July 30, 2009 at 13:45

      As a side point, Reagan saw a way to the end. It was economics. The ‘Star Wars’ program was a fake. Most of the money sent to the particle accelerator in Texas to develop energy weapons actually went to the development of the B-2 bomber and F-117 stealth fighter. Both aircraft were designed with post Cold War strategies in mind. The Soviet Union didn’t have the financial ability to keep up and called an end to the war.

  7. 8 patti in cape coral
    July 30, 2009 at 11:42

    I was 19 and I remember the sense of jubilation everywhere. The Jesus Jones song was playing every time you turned on the radio, and like he said, it was like “watching the world wake up from history.”

  8. 9 steve
    July 30, 2009 at 15:30

    I was a freshman in high school and in my first semester of learning German. Very memorable that it happened while I was beginning to learn German.

  9. 10 RightPaddock
    July 31, 2009 at 02:25

    @Jack Hughes – I totally agree with your sentiments regarding Reagan & Thatcher.

    I was 47 in 1989, I wasn’t surprised, I was more surprised it took so long.

    After visiting the Soviet Union and some of its satellites in the preceding couple of decades, I never understood why many in the West seemed to think the USSR and the Warsaw Pact would NOT collapse. I’m not referring to those on the left but people like Condaleeza Rice, William Webster and the other professional Kremlin watchers.

    Let us not forget Mikhail Gorbachev, without him the collapse could have got really nasty in any one of several dimensions. It’s because of his efforts that the collapse was as peaceful as it was.

    I think we sometimes forget that the collapse was not just of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact, but also of the Russian Empire on which the Soviet Union was originally built. Was it “perfect”, no of course not, but nor were the collapses of the Roman or Ottoman Empires or indeed the British Empire.

    The highlight for me was seeing East Germans going over the border between Hungary & Austria, I knew then that it was game over for the Communists.

  10. 11 Alan Beutal
    August 1, 2009 at 07:26

    It seems like a lifetime ago (20 years) when it was impossible for millions of people to travel within the continent of Europe and visit one another. Polish, Czech, Hungarian, you better have a good reason for wanting to go to London, Paris or Rome. (Or in those days, as they said, the ‘West’). Of course, even if you did have a good reason, you weren’t going anywhere. Berlin was the prime example of the failure of communism. We were allowed to travel to East Berlin for a brief visit (one day ‘visa’) but for the East Berliners to go the other way, no visa. Just a bullit. if you had the guts to try.

  11. August 1, 2009 at 12:19

    In rhyme, Humpty Dumpty fell off a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. In reality, the wall fell with him. And putting Humpty Dumpty together has provided a less than handsome replacement so far.

  12. 13 Alan Beutal
    August 1, 2009 at 19:38

    RightPaddock has it right when he says that no one foresaw the collapse of the Soviet Union. Before Carter left office, Strobe Talbot, Carter’s Deputy Secretary of State, only saw a strong Soviet Union, at least militarily, for the future. Even Reagan’s own advisers (out of the inner circle, that is) didn’t foresee the collapse of the Soviet Union. Only Reagan did. He was right while most everyone else was wrong.
    Most people run for President because they want to become President. Reagan ran for the highest office because there were some specific things he wanted to do – stop the expensive and dangerous, continuous arms race that he had lived through for part if not most of his life. His achievement on this count was vast and enormous.

  13. 14 Dennis Junior
    August 3, 2009 at 05:00

    I remember the downfall of the 1989 story; I was 12 years of age….Remember the world revolving in many ways….

    ~Dennis Junior~

  14. 15 Dr.A.K.Tewari
    August 4, 2009 at 13:47

    The demolition of German wall has resulted a unipolar world. This give us an opportunity to remove all obstacls existing in the way of world peace.Now even a unilateral action will not turn in to a world war if it is needed to ensure peace in the world and sm it is happening in on going wars.

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