How a slip of the tongue far away helped bring down apartheid

Ideas

How a slip of the tongue far away helped bring down apartheid

The Berlin Wall’s fall 30 years ago changed the world forever, and it was all thanks to a flustered apparatchik

Columnist

On Saturday night in Berlin, the capital of chic modernity in Europe and of its largest economy, throngs celebrated the 30-year anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the most menacing and divisive symbol of the Cold War.

On November 9 1989, Berlin was ground zero of the four-decade battle between the liberal market free countries of the West, and the “iron curtain”, per Winston Churchill’s famous phrase for the ring of steel that surrounded Eastern and Central Europe and kept it under Soviet control. 

Like much else which the so-called “velvet revolution” of 1989, which saw hordes of East Germans and other Europeans pour across into West Berlin, there was a great deal of ambivalence in the celebrations. Just as in the events in Europe and the wider world since the fall of communism – of which November 9 1989 was the single most important herald – and the unification of Germany and the restoration of democracy across Europe...

This article is reserved for Times Select subscribers.
A subscription gives you full digital access to all Times Select content.

Times Select

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Questions or problems?
Email helpdesk@timeslive.co.za or call 0860 52 52 00.