World marks fall of Berlin wall

On Nov. 4, 1989, a half-million East Berliners, most having grown up behind a nearly 10-foot-tall wall of oppression, mounted a huge demonstration in Alexanderplatz demanding freedom.

Colorful blocks decorated by children in Berlin and around the world line the former route of the Berlin Wall and will come tumbling down like dominoes during today’s Festival of Freedom marking the 20th anniversary of the wall’s demise.

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It was the capstone of many such demonstrations that had been taking place for months throughout the communist country. That was a straw in the wind to people like Christhard Lapple, then a 31-year-old reporter for German ZDF Television. Could something big be about to happen? Was it really possible after all these years? Friday morning, the now 51-year-old Lapple sat in his ZDF office near the Brandenburg Gate. He was holding a fist-size chunk of the Berlin Wall that he had removed from the “monster” back in 1989. “Something was in the air,” he said about that Nov. 4 demonstration. “But none of us knew that the wall would fall just five days later. It was a total surprise.” Lapple echoed what many others have said about the momentous event of Nov. 9, 1989, when the 28-year-old symbol of the Iron Curtain was breached by everyday East Germans who carried no guns. “It was a people’s day,” Lapple said. “The fall of the wall is a story about the power of the people.”

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