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Wolfgang Thierse, Vice-President of the German Bundestag, talks about the day the Wall came down

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Wolfgang Thierse, Vice-President of the German Bundestag, talks about the day the Wall came down


Michael Reichmann – euronews: “The 9th of November is an important day for Germans and our country. On this day in 1918 the first German democracy was announced – the Weimar Republic. And of course on this day in 1989 the iron curtain fell. Wolfgang Thierse is the Vice-President of the Bundestag, the German Parliament. He was a member of the citizen movement when the wall came down. What are your memories of the 9th November 1989?”

Wolfgang Thierse, Vice-President of the German Bundestag: “It began as an ordinary day and I was at home with my wife watching West German Television,” explained Wolfgang Thierse. “Gunter Scabowsk a member of the Politburo appeared in a press conference to announce new rules for people travelling from the east, it was bizarre and what he was saying was unclear We asked ourselves what it meant, we couldn’t believe it. “Later, on other news the presenter began by sayingsomething sensational had happened, the GDR had opened it’s borders. That struck us like lightening. It was after that report that people ran to the border, they pushed to break through. Finally an officer opened the barrier and no one could stop the flow of people,” he said. Michael Reichmann – euronews: “What were your hopes then on hearing the news? It wasn`t just the freedom to travel, you had other aspirations as well?” Wolfgang Thierse : “We had been demonstrating against the autocracy of the communist party and calling for democracy months before the fall of the wall,” continued Wolfgang Thierse. “We demanded basic liberties. We asked for free elections, we wanted to be another country and I believe that’s something that has to be stressed. We first eeked out freedom and then unity. This peaceful revolution is not only the pre-story to the fall of the wall, it is also the story of a democratic revolution. It was a magic moment in the history of German and European freedom and the history of democracy,” he said. Michael Reichmann – euronews: “ There are still many questions about those events. There were many meetings between the political parties, round tables as you call them with attempts to form a new system from the two old ones, a so called third way. Why didn’t it work?” Wolfgang Thierse: “The round table existed from December 1989. It was an attempt to organise a peaceful change in the division of power because the SED – the communist party – didn’t want to give up their power voluntarily,” said Wolfgang Thierse. “At the round table the East Germans were learning. The pressure rose in 1990, the East German people were impatient they wanted the West German currency, the Deutsch Mark the German Mark. “Then there was the promise of Helmut Kohl saying he would lead us to the promised land – the west. There was the uncertainity of what would happen in foreign policy, if Gorbachev and the Soviet Union would accept German unity. “There was no chance for a third way. The GDR became part of West Germany. We became part of the western system. Their economy, their parliamentary democracy. That’s what the majority wanted. The minority dreamed of a third way. But that wasn’t possible,” said Wolfgang Thierse. Michael Reichmann – euronews:” Can I ask finally have your hopes been realised and do you think that the events of twenty years ago could have been handled better?” Wolfgang Thierse: “Everything in relation to democracy and the rights of the people has has been fulfilled. But wé still don`t live in a united country. There are huge economic and social differences between west and east. Justice is still a political issue. Capitalism has just shown its brutal face. That hits some people hard, especially in East-Germany,” stressed Wolfgang Thierse. Michael Reichmann – euronews: “Thank you Wolfgang Thierse, Vice-President of the German Bundestag.”

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