Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and in the shadow of the Brandenburg Gate two men meet. Gunter Ziehe and Peter Daube share common memories. They were two policemen guarding the border working on either side of the Berlin Wall until it crumbled.
The Bernauer Strasse memorial, the last remaining part of the wall, is witness to their story. Gunter Ziehie was a member of the so-called “People’s Police” in East Berlin.
“It was becoming restless for a month and then it started on the 7th October or maybe some days before, but I didn’t believe it could happen so quickly but it did,” he said.
Suddenly things happened between the night of the 9th and 10th of November. In a few hours hundreds of people from East Berlin besieged the guard posts, climbed the wall and passed into West Berlin. The contagious euphoric atmosphere did not stop Peter Daube, a West German policeman, from questioning what was happening.
“There was always a doubt. Whats going to happen. Would someone have a fall,what will really happen. We knew absolutely nothing whats was happenign on the other side and right at the beginning the question was what would happen afterwards. Nobody had an answer. Would someone open fire. Would the allies intervene,” he said.
Indeed on the East side of the Wall death would have been certain. The aim was to stop people fleeing to the West.
But from April 3 in 1989 Erich Honecker, chief of the Communist Party, gave the order to the guards at the Wall not to resort to weapons to prevent people crossing the frontier.
But still, Gunter Ziehe was not entirely sure how that would affect the crowd: “The situation was not easy and I don’t know today I still hesitate. Personally I always thought everything would turn out well that people would be sensible and by the grace of God that’s what happened.”
The wall had separated these two former enemies for many years but now it has brought them together. It has been that way for twenty years.
More on the Berlin Wall: www.euronews.net/1989-2009
Berlin Wall memories