25 years on Prague remembers exodus of East Germans to West Germany

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25 years on Prague remembers exodus of East Germans to West Germany

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The former West German foreign minister who famously announced that East German refugees could travel to the West has returned to the Czech capita Prague to mark 25 years since that day.

In the summer of 1989, hundreds of East German refugees had gathered at the West German embassy in Prague demanding to be allowed into West Germany.

On September 30th, Genscher arrived at the embassy and came out onto the balcony to address the 800 people camped out. He began to say “Dear fellow Germans, we have come to you in order to inform you that today, your departure…” before being drowned out by cheers.

At celebrations in Prague on Tuesday, Genscher was greeted by one man who said “We still want to thank you for your efforts at that time.” Genscher replied “You, too, you did a lot “ to which the man said “Not so much as you.”

During the summer of 1989, thousands of East German refugees attempted to move to the West by travelling through Warsaw Pact countries. Thousands managed to cross from Hungary to Austria as border guards allowed them through.

At the beginning of October, after the German foreign minister’s statement, thousands of refugees travelled from Prague to West Germany on specially chartered trains.

The tide was turning, and six weeks later the Berlin wall fell.