German Revolution: "immediatley"

20 years ago, November 9th 1989, a marginal mistake on a press conference.

6.53 p.m.
Günther Schabowski announces the new travel regulations. When asked by a journalist when the regulations are to go into force, Schabowski answers: "Sofort, unverzüglich", which means: "As of now; immediately!" This was wrong, on the government's paper, which he didn't found at this moment, was written: 10 November, which means, one day later.

11.30 p.m.
On Bornholmer Strasse, the situation is becoming a threatening one for the passport inspectors. Thousands of people are pushing towards the border crossing point. The "valve solution" has proved to be unwise. When some are allowed to leave the country, the others who have to wait push and shove even more. When the wire fence in front of the border crossing is pushed aside, the border guards fear for their lives. Lieutenant-Colonel Harald Jäger decides to open up everything and stop checking passports. Thousands of people pour into the border facilities, overrun the checkpoints, go over the bridge and are welcomed enthusiastically on the West Berlin side.

By around midnight, all the Berlin border crossings are forced to open, sometimes by West Berliners (at the Invalidenstrasse crossing point, for example). [more]

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