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"Small question, enormous consequences"

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"Small question, enormous consequences"


Giovanni Magi – euronews: “Ricardo Ehrmannn, hello, welcome to euronews. It was you who on the 9th of November, 20 years ago, during a press conference held by the spokesperson of the German Democratic Republic, asked the crucial question about the new law on the right of citizens to travel, the question which triggered the fall of the Berlin Wall. Somme recent reports have claimed that the question was probably suggested by the Communist Party. How did it really happen?”

Riccardo Ehrmann – Italian journalist: “No I deny categorically that the question had been suggested. First, I’d like to say that it’s not the questions which are important but the replies. In this case, the reply changed the world and I don’t think the German communist regime needed a planted question to announce this news.” euronews: “During the press conference, is it true that other journalists didn’t ask questions about the new emigration laws but that you insisted on this question?” Riccardo Ehrmann: “I had arrived late and for that reason I was sitting at the foot of the podium and from the beginning I had raised my arm to ask to speak. But Mr Chabovski, that was the name of the spokersperson for the GDR, he didn’t look my way. Finally he said, “let’s see what our Italian colleague wants to know” and he invited me to speak. I asked the question and as a reply he read the statement which effectively signalled the fall of the Berlin Wall. Even after 20 years I still find it surprising that among all the people in the room I was the only journalist to understand the incredible significance of these words and I was the only one who ran outside to telephone to ANSA in Rome with the news flash: “The Berlin wall has fallen”. A few days after the fall of the wall I met Willy Brandt, the famous Chancellor who’s considered as the father of modern Germany. When they presented him to me, he held me enthusiastically in his arms and said to me in German: “Small question, enormous consequences”. euronews: “The fall of the wall created a great wave of idealism in Europe and throughout the world. What’s left of it, 20 years on?” Riccardo Ehrmann: “20 years on, happily, we have a Germany which has become one nation, marvellous as it is today. Of course there are always little defects, and maybe they’re not that little, which need rectifying. It’s true, a worker in East Germany doesn’t earn the same as a worker in West Germany who does the same job. I think that these are things that will disappear with time, in months or years.” euronews: “Ricardo Ehrmann, thanks very much for your testimony.” Riccardo Ehrmann: “Thank you.”

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