Modern history

The Collapse: The Accidental Opening of the Berlin Wall

The Collapse: The Accidental Opening of the Berlin Wall

On the night of November 9, 1989, massive crowds surged toward the Berlin Wall, drawn by an announcement that caught the world by surprise: East Germans could now move freely to the West. The Wall—infamous symbol of divided Cold War Europe—seemed to be falling. But the opening of the gates that night was not planned by the East German ruling regime—nor was it the result of a bargain between either Ronald Reagan or George H.W. Bush and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

It was an accident.

Introduction: Discovering the Causes of the Collapse

Part I: The Struggle Within the Soviet Bloc and Saxony

Chapter 1. A Brutal Status Quo

Chapter 2. Marginal to Massive

Chapter 3. The Fight for the Ring

Part II: The Competition for Control in East Berlin

Chapter 4. The Revolution Advances, the Regime Plays for Time

Chapter 5. Failure to Communicate on November 9, 1989

Part III: The Contest of Wills at the Wall

Chapter 6. The Revolution, Televised

Chapter 7. Damage Control?

Epilogue: Violence and Victory, Trust and Triumphalism

Brief Timeline of Major Events Highlighted in the Text

Notes