1989: the autumn of change

First it was hundreds, then thousands and finally tens of thousands of GDR citizens who took to the streets in 1989. This culminated on 9 October in a demonstration in Leipzig of at least 70,000 people. Contrary to what was feared, the security forces did not intervene. Europe's press commemorates the peaceful revolution, which a month later culminated in the fall of the Berlin Wall, and takes a critical look at the world today.

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Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

The real revolution was in October

The Süddeutsche Zeitung finds it incomprehensible that the events preceding the fall of the Berlin Wall receive so little attention:

“The days of October 1989 were decisive for the victory over the repressive regime that had existed for forty years. The GDR leadership gave no order to fire and it was now the rulers who were afraid rather than the demonstrators. Solely for that reason were GDR citizens able to storm and dance on the Wall. Unity was preceded by freedom. It was the victory of a whole country, albeit one still divided into two halves. The Berlin Wall fell on 9 November, but the revolution was in October. Yet this is not celebrated in Germany, which prefers to focus on the final act ”

The Evening Standard (GB) /

It's worth fighting for an open society

Even if democracies aren't perfect, it is certainly worth fighting for them, The Evening Standard believes:

“The Europe we inhabit has struggled to live up to its aspiration. But the gambles taken on the streets of eastern Europe then, and Hong Kong now, were about a belief that open societies were better than those which defined themselves by enmities. They were also driven by a faith that unpredictable democracies outweigh the paralysis of closed societies. It was worth the risks the foot soldiers of change took 30 years ago. For all the setbacks since, it still is.”

Latvijas Avize (LV) /

Modern walls are even harder to overcome

Latvijas avize finds it regrettable that thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, borders in Europe and the world are once again becoming fortified:

“Because of the negative connotations, we no longer speak of walls, but of fences and defensive systems. Thanks to modern surveillance technology, these fences are even harder to overcome than the Berlin Wall. In 1989, Hungary was the first socialist country to open its border with Austria. Today, this same country has built a barrier that is far more difficult to overcome - on the border with Serbia. Other fences exist in the form of barbed wire: those between Israel and the Palestinian territories, between Bulgaria and Turkey, between the Baltic States and Russia, and between Abkhazia and Georgia. Not forgetting Trump's wall on the Mexican border. ... The history of humanity has, however, shown that mechanical barriers are only a temporary solution.”

La Vanguardia (ES) /

Reunification has yet to succeed

East and West Germany are still divided, La Vanguardia observes:

“There are many reasons why East and West still feel divided. There is huge inequality, as a study by the Munich Ifo institute has shown. This means that living standards in the East German federal states will not reach those of West Germany for decades, if indeed at all. Many Germans, especially in the east, are poor, even though they live in one of the world’s strongest economies. That fact is both dramatic and paradoxical. And now the spectre of recession has raised its head as well. ... After three decades, the country has not managed to overcome these inequalities. ”