The First Crack in the Wall

The First Crack in the Wall

Andreas Oplatka

At 7 PM on the 10th of September 1989, it was announced on Hungarian television that the government had decided to open up the country's western border to refugees from the German Democratic Republic. This decision led to a chain reaction, culminating in the reunification of East and West Germany, the disintegration of the Soviet Union, and the entry of several Eastern block states into NATO and the European Union – although the Hungarian politicians who decreed that the barriers should be dismantled had no way of knowing what the consequences of their actions would be. Since those momentous events, a whole generation has reached adulthood with no memories of a divided Europe. In his analysis of the Hungarian political scene in 1989, in which he draws on interviews with the key players involved – from Gorbachev to Genscher and Miklós Németh – Oplatka explains how the development that shook Europe to its foundations was the result of misunderstandings, coincidences, off-the-cuff decisions, and the tenacity of desperate people. In his absorbing commentary, he demonstrates how it is not always the global super-powers whose actions change the world we live in.

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Hungary (Helikon)

The First Crack in the Wall

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