The Fall of the Berlin Wall 1989

by Irene Xavier

painting by Army wife Circe Woessner, who lived on the East-West Border in 1989 and witnessed history unfold firsthand

painting by Army wife Circe Woessner, who lived on the East-West Border in 1989 and witnessed history unfold firsthand

Sometimes you can watch history take place right in front of you. Matt and I were in Southern Germany November 1989 when the Berlin wall came down. We quickly changed our travel plans and headed to Berlin on November 11 for a one-day adventure. We took the night train and arrived very early on the morning. Excitement filled the air everywhere we went – the city was alive – and swamped with media. We looked on as people were hammering away at the Berlin wall – and the East German guards could only look on as the wall they had been trained to protect was crumbling away. Matt says I stood out in the crowd with my red hair – an East German guard smiled and handed me a huge chunk of the wall – I didn’t have to whack out my own piece of history!

The downside was carrying the huge block around all day!! We now only have a small rock left as a souvenir from our journey – gave most of it away to family and friends.

We saw many cars from East Germany in West Berlin – most of the parked cars had oranges and bananas placed on the hood of the cars – gifts from Westerners since these fruits were not common to the East Germans.

One young East German lady saw me in the restroom with soapy hands. She asked where I found the soap – she couldn’t see the bar of soap anywhere. I showed her the liquid soap in the dispenser – and she cried. She said we had everything in this country!! Makes you appreciate the little conveniences in life!

My fondest memory was on the train ride back to Munich. West Berlin was a West German city surrounded by East Germany. The train leaving Berlin was packed – standing room only – and everyone was ecstatic!! Matt and I were fortunate to have seats, thanks to my mother who had the foresight to reserve seats for us the day before. It must have been about 2AM when the train crossed from East Germany into West Germany. It was then that the East Germans on our train yelled out “Freedom, Freedom”…it wasn’t until they were on solidly on West German soil did they allow themselves to celebrate – they were going to finally see relatives and friends ~ and a world that they never thought they would be allowed to see. It was a true freedom train and not a dry eye around!

Matt and I will never forget our trip into history 25 years ago. We didn’t have a camera with us (shocking for me to think of this now!!), it was a well-documented event, and we were part of these proud crowds!


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