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Sure, Reagan got more press and all of the credit, but a concert in West Berlin with Genesis, David Bowie, and Eurythmics started the wrecking ball rolling during the summer of 1987. According to Time magazine,
"As the bands played, the East Berlin crowds chanted "Gorby, Gorby" and "Down with the Wall," until they were silenced by East German security forces who beat them with batons and made scores of arrests."
On June 9, 1987, an article in the Orlando Sentinel reported,
A brief disturbance broke out Saturday, but on Sunday, when rock fans gathered too close to the wall to listen to the Eurythmics, hundreds of club-wielding police fought about 3,000 fans, many of whom shouted 'Pigs!' and 'The wall must go!' To prevent a repeat performance during Monday's Genesis concert, police erected barricades and stood shoulder to shoulder across the street."
Three days later on June 12, Reagan repeated the challenge. It should be noted that the wall did not come down the next day. In fact, it wasn't until November 9, 1989 that the East Germans opened the Berlin Wall.

...below the fold
More Music, More Problems for East Germany
...and a powerful video from The Boss

In 1988, with the wall still standing, Michael Jackson and Pink Floyd scheduled shows in June. The East German government approached West German officials and tried to shut down the festival claiming that patients in a nearby hospital might die. The pressure worked and promoter Peter Schwenkow had to adjust the staging.

"But I had already sold 30,000 tickets to Pink Floyd -- the concert couldn't be cancelled," Schwenkow said. "Even though we had to make sure that we played very quietly and directed our sound toward the west, it was Pink Floyd's decision, during sound check, to turn the speakers toward the east and blast East Berlin with (Pink Floyd hit) 'The Wall.'
The East German Stasi planned counter concerts on their side of the wall to "draw rebellious music fans away from the border." It didn't work. According to German news source Spiegel,
"As it was, the distraction never happened. Instead, as feared, there were violent clashes between East German music fans and police, many of whom were in civilian clothes, mixing into a crowd of thousands. As eyewitness, Alan Nothnagle, a translator living in Berlin, writes on his blog: "We noticed 'inconspicuous' men in civilian clothes, slouching on street corners in groups of three, eyeing the passers-by. The reason was no secret: somehow everyone knew that Michael Jackson was giving a concert in front of the Reichstag that evening, just a few hundred meters from where we were standing … Hundreds, soon thousands of young people congregated to hear the music. The Stasi agents also multiplied... We never heard a note of music that night, but soon voices arose in the crowd calling 'The Wall must go!' and 'Gorbachev! Gorbachev!' Now the plainclothes Stasi men came alive. They hurled the young people to the ground, shouting 'What did you say? What did you say?' and hauled them off by the collar into side streets where police vans were waiting to bundle them off to Stasi headquarters."
One month later on July 19, 1988, Springsteen played in the East German velodrome, performing to 160,000 East German fans in a government approved show. Only 100,000 had purchased tickets. According to Reuters, The Boss "stopped halfway through the three-hour show for a short speech:
"I want to tell you I'm not here for or against any government. I came to play rock 'n' roll for you East Berliners in the hope that one day all the barriers will be torn down."
It was not Reagan's sole idea to tear down the wall; many came before him and after him. It was the music fans that were beat down by the Stasi. It was the musicians on the ground at the wall, instilling the hope of freedom to those on the other side. It was the power of music that stormed the gates.

After Springsteen spoke to the East Germans in their native language as translated above, he played this song...

Originally posted to Z. Woof on Sun Sep 09, 2012 at 07:04 AM PDT.

Also republished by DKOMA, Protest Music, and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Good Mornin' (19+ / 0-)

    A little something for music fans. Hope everyone is feelin' groovy.

    When you're born you get a ticket to the freak show. When you're born in America, you get a front row seat. George Carlin

    by Zwoof on Sun Sep 09, 2012 at 07:08:46 AM PDT

  •  David Hasselhoff still thinks he did it. nt (9+ / 0-)

    "I was a big supporter of waterboarding" - Dick Cheney 2/14/10

    by Bob Love on Sun Sep 09, 2012 at 07:09:53 AM PDT

  •  Very helpful! (20+ / 0-)

    In my classes, I solve the Reagan/Wall question by showing them this:


    We've already established at this point that Time then was centrist on most things and center-right on foreign policy.  It's usually an eye-opener.

    Great to know popular culture played a major part too!

    -7.75, -8.10; All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent, and we are all Wisconsin.

    by Dave in Northridge on Sun Sep 09, 2012 at 07:14:25 AM PDT

  •  mccartney (33+ / 0-)

    when he first toured post-soviet russia, he was talking with a member of gorbachev's cabinet, who told him that as a young man he had learned english so he could understand the beatles' lyrics. gorbachev himself was and is a fan of jazz. hard to hate a people when you love their culture.

    The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

    by Laurence Lewis on Sun Sep 09, 2012 at 07:22:28 AM PDT

  •  Reagan was great (10+ / 0-)

    at taking, or stealing, credit for what other people did.  Now, I can't recall everything he would take credit for, but I do recall whatever it was, it was just ridiculous.

    I used to say [during the Reagan years] that if we found life on Mars, he would take credit for it.

    The banks have a stranglehold on the political process. Mike Whitney

    by dfarrah on Sun Sep 09, 2012 at 07:26:18 AM PDT

  •  WOW (5+ / 0-)

    really moved by the Springsteen concert.  Singing "Chimes of Freedom in E. Berlin - priceless! Thanks for this bit of history.

  •  No, it was Reagan. (4+ / 0-)

    Ironically, it's easily explained with Marxist jargon than with Republican hagiography, but it's still an explanation.  Reagan exploited, objectively (i.e. without really grasping it), the contradictions of the Soviet system, which was incapable of innovating its way out a crisis of (shift to Frankfurt School jargon here) legitimacy.  Under a stable Cold War the Soviet system couldn't provide enough well-being to justify itself, and under what Fred Halliday called the Second Cold War (started under Carter and ramped-up under Reagan) it couldn't even keep pace in military terms. This gave rise to the Gorbachev critique, that the USSR was "Upper Volta with missiles," and the reformism that ended up sinking the ship (again with the contradictions).    There's some decent chance that this would have happened eventually even without Reagan, but for every Helen Carrere d'Encausse who predicted the unraveling of the USSR there were 100 Adam Ulams who predicted a "convergence" between the US and USSR in a soft authoritarian socialism. So it's hard to deny Reagan's centrality.

    Romney '12: Berlusconi without the sex and alcohol!

    by Rich in PA on Sun Sep 09, 2012 at 07:32:26 AM PDT

    •  Reagan was a vegetable (6+ / 0-)

      Ketchup would have been a better president.

      "Political ends as sad remains will die." - YES 'And You and I' ; -8.88, -9.54

      by US Blues on Sun Sep 09, 2012 at 07:34:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Well that was wonky (8+ / 0-)

      I still prefer to think that the unrest on the East side sparked by the Eurythmics, Bowie, Genesis concert  had much more of an effect on the ground.

      Action happens when the billy clubs come out.

      When you're born you get a ticket to the freak show. When you're born in America, you get a front row seat. George Carlin

      by Zwoof on Sun Sep 09, 2012 at 07:39:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I had to teach this, so it's my revenge. n/t (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Zwoof, penguins4peace

        Romney '12: Berlusconi without the sex and alcohol!

        by Rich in PA on Sun Sep 09, 2012 at 07:40:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Rich you NEED to watch this (0+ / 0-)

           The documentary How the Beatles Rocked the Kremlin aired Friday night on PBS. It was a rerun. It may be on line or you could request your local station run it.

          It was very detailed and through interviews and period films amply demonstrated the point: The Beatles and Rock and Roll did the Soviet Union in.

          Oil, being broke, propaganda from western institutes were all immaterial.

          First you have to break the fear. Then you need a critical mass. The music did that. It was a craze and the more they tried to forbid the decadent western music the more kids heard about it and took it up.

          They would make bootleg records on old abdominal X-ray films. Hence they were called "ribs." Playing the ribs was the pastime that spread. They were flexible and could be folded around the arm so the seller could sell them out of his sleeve.

          One person they interviewed was the Deputy Prime Minister
Sergei Ivanov who recalled hearing "Love Me True" in about 1963 on the highly illegal Radio Luxembourg.

          By the mid 60s the Beatle mania was underway. Kids all over USSR wore their hair Beatles style. Suppression efforts were in force; having or selling a record, even speaking favorable about the Beatles got you jail time — and they shaved their heads.

          Some of my notes:  "Back from the USSR" gave rise to many legends: that the Beatles gave a secret impromptu concert at some air field when their plane stopped for refueling …

          They made their own guitars   A magazine article showed how to make a pickup out of a telephone receiver and the next day phone receivers were missing all over Russia.

          It talked about and showed the gap between the Beatles generation and their geriatric leaders.

          You gotta' watch it. It was so cool. And really interesting about how nations really fail. If you are really interested in the history of this time it would be worth buying a copy.

          I'm asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about real change in Washington ... *I'm asking you to believe in yours.* Barack Obama

          by samddobermann on Mon Sep 10, 2012 at 06:00:59 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Ummmm... no. (5+ / 0-)

      Reagan's insane arms race and bellicose rhetoric came within a whisker of sparking a catastrophic nuclear launch by the Soviets. From the Soviet perspective, the U.S. nuclear arms build-up, particularly the Pershing II missiles positioned in Western Europe for an apparent quick 'decapitating strike', were convincing evidence of U.S. plans to launch a nuclear first strike as soon as we felt confident of destroying them. And several small misunderstandings came terrifyingly close to convincing them to launch.

      The collapse of the Soviet Union was coming regardless of Reagan's insanely bellicose and dangerous policies. The best perspective on this was from Professor John Mueller, a brilliant political scientist currently at Ohio State. He accurately predicted the collapse of the Soviet Union, well in advance of its occurrence, and has been a consistent advocate of ending the insane and self-defeating reliance on nuclear weapons...well, for pretty much anything...because they are genuinely useless militarily.

    •  Reaan did absolutely nothing but take credit (6+ / 0-)

      The "contradictions of the Soviet system" you speak of and the strategy for the West to deal with them were laid out decades before Reagan took office. Reagan did nothing but carry on the same policy seven presidents had implemented before him.

      In 1947 George Kennan, a Democrat, wrote an enormously influential paper for Foreign Policy which said, in part:

      The United States has it in its power to increase enormously the strains under which Soviet policy must operate, to force upon the Kremlin a far greater degree of moderation and circumspection than it has had to observe in recent years, and in this way to promote tendencies which must eventually find their outlet in either the breakup or the gradual mellowing of Soviet power.
      The policy Kennan advocated -- massive economic and diplomatic counter-pressure on the USSR on the world stage, waiting patiently for the day when the cracks in the Soviet system turned into fissures -- became known as containment. It was adopted by the Truman administration and became the blueprint for US strategy throughout the Cold War.

      Reagan - or more accurately, Bush I (poor guy never catches a break on this) -- happened to be lucky enough to be around when the Soviet economy's own internal contradictions destroyed it. But but the people in America most responsible for this weren't Reagan and his crew -- they were Kennan and the Truman administration.

      (Reagan, to be sure, enjoyed grandstanding about the Wall and throwing money at expensive defense programs. But that's because grandstanding and throwing money at defense programs were good domestic politics, not because Reagan seriously thought a speech or a bunch of money spent on a failed Star Wars system would actually materially affect when Kennan's prediction would pay off.)

    •  Not that accurate (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Soviet military spending from Carter onward was flat.


      Mitch Gore

      Want to end too big to fail banks? Then move your money and they will no longer be too big.

      by Lestatdelc on Sun Sep 09, 2012 at 06:16:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Afghanistan? (6+ / 0-)

    I agree with you that Springsteen, Pink Floyd, and MJ wrote and played the popular soundtrack that inspired and accompanied the end of the Iron Curtain.

    I think we all have to acknowledge that Russia's little adventure in far-away Afghanistan played a major role in the dissolution of the Soviet empire, allowing Soviet satellite countries to free themselves.  The Russians spent ten years fighting a failed war in Afghanistan.  The war placed a heavy toll on the Soviet treasury, and largely bankrupted the empire.  Without sufficient funds, the Soviet empire no longer had enough money to police E. Germany, Poland, Romania, et al, and to hold on to the satellite countrties.

    Sadly, today, the US faces the same fate, despite the lessons of the Soviet empire.  Our war in Afghanistan has gone on longer than the Russian's war with Afghanistan.  As a nation, we have more debt than did the Soviets.  Currently, we can not pay for all our obligations around the world.  

    We have followed the Russian script into decline to the letter.  The Russians lost their empire; what we lose remains to be seen.

    Bonus question for music lovers: who is writing the soundtrack to the fall of the American dynasty?  In my opinion, Springsteen does a good job of this.  I'm guessing there are a lot of newer rap and hip-hop artists who I have never heard that are also putting out relevant music.  

    "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

    by Hugh Jim Bissell on Sun Sep 09, 2012 at 07:41:04 AM PDT

  •  Labor movement in Poland (9+ / 0-)

    Once it was obvious the Soviets wouldn't crackdown as they had in 1968 in Prague it was pretty much over.  Give the people of Eastern Europe credit.

  •  Don't forget Frank Zappa! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jds1978, Zwoof, Debby, SherwoodB

    I'm the plowman in the valley - with my face full of mud

    by labradog on Sun Sep 09, 2012 at 09:17:09 AM PDT

    •  Easy for the Establishment to forget Zappa. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      labradog, samddobermann

      He threw barbs everyone's way.  (Some people talk about how they don't exempt anyone; Zappa really didn't.)  And more important, he made some REALLY DANGEROUS music.

      The '60s were simply an attempt to get the 21st Century started early....Well, what are we waiting for? There's no deadline on a dream!

      by Panurge on Sun Sep 09, 2012 at 08:40:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Eyes that could bring down a wall (7+ / 0-)

    White-collar conservatives flashing down the street, pointing their plastic finger at me..

    by BOHICA on Sun Sep 09, 2012 at 10:27:24 AM PDT

  •  The Berlin Wall was doomed to fall, Reagan or not (9+ / 0-)

    The youth in East Germany was fed up: No fun in their life. West Germany economy was so advanced, with a living standard well above the United States at that time.  
    Yes, western MUSIC (specially Bruce Springsteen, Micheal Jackson, U2, Madonna...) was the trigger for the revolution and the downfall of the curtain wall. Politicians, lying as usual, jumped onto the ship and claimed the steering wheel.
    May be politicians put money behind the scene (who knows!) but they were not on the street.
    But, if there is one politician to congratulate for the fall of the curtain wall, it will be Gorbatchev. Only History will tell WHY he did it. He didn't have to do it. The Chinese did not follow him (see Tianamen)

    (btw, GREAT DIARY, Zwoof!

    •  The war was over (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      the Afghan war has been cited as a cause for collapse, but the collapse didn't happen until after the soldiers came home and everyone realized that things were still sucking when they should have been fixed.

      I just genetically engineer them, I don't nominate them for President.

      by happymisanthropy on Sun Sep 09, 2012 at 06:14:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  He was an early Beatles fan (0+ / 0-)

      He was of that generation.

      We in the West don't realize just how much younger Gorbachov was than the other geriatric leaders.

      I'm asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about real change in Washington ... *I'm asking you to believe in yours.* Barack Obama

      by samddobermann on Mon Sep 10, 2012 at 06:11:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Sinead O'connor and Cyndi Lauper (5+ / 0-)

    had parts in The Wall concert at the Berlin Wall-

    but was that concert given at the time of its dismantling? I remember an Eastern Block honour guard, Soviet or East German, furling their flags and retiring from the stage- going home- as the band sand 'Bring the boys back home'.

    I happened to see the Cold War end one day on TV: this was Gorby-era, and I was watching an 'All-Soviet Military Choir Competition' because that's just how sad my life is...

    Anyway, between songs the camera panned around the audience of Soviet officers seated at their dinner tables, and lit on one older officer, looked like cast iron, like he hadn't smiled since 1945; a Khruschev-era guy of some considerable rank.

    Rank enough, that he didn't take kindly to being watched by a camera, and his reaction was to glower at it, I mean seriously, threateningly, no jokesky-

    Until he remembered that he was being recorded not by  Soviet Security but rather by the West, to whom this show was being broadcast in the spirit of Glasnost, and then he slowly screwed his face into a smile- well really a grimace but he was trying his best- took about thirty seconds, you could see he just hated the hell out of doing it.

    To me, the Cold War didn't end there, but at a table behind this guy, among some younger officers seated around it, one of whom, with a laconic, understated smile, nudged his neighbor and nodded toward Old Guy's discomfiture; the other young officer smiled the same way at the spectacle. And it was, really, quite amusing.

    Those four or five young officers seemed intelligent, refined and cultured. Not hotheads, not reckless, not war-starters.

  •  Ha! (5+ / 0-)

    I posted a joke on facebook last year that said "Contrary to popular belief, Ronald Reagan did NOT win the cold war. Rocky 4 did."

    "They've got the guns, but we've got the numbers..."

    by danktle on Sun Sep 09, 2012 at 01:35:30 PM PDT

  •  Thanks for this very (4+ / 0-)

    special diary.

    Your story explains what really happened when Reagan gave his speech.
    I didn't go back to watch it again but when I saw the video not too many years ago, after reading that the words: "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall" were not in the speech or had been removed from Reagan's speech by the handlers.

    When Reagan spoke, the German audience was very animated and Reagan seemed to sense the mood. He started to tentatively suggest things should change for Germany (east Germany) and the audience became more excited and IMO they literally drew those words from his lips. He spoke tentatively, a little nervously IMO but when he said the words, the audience had their feelings expressed out loud and the cheering was full of powerful emotions for liberation and justice and freedon for East Germans.

    So now we know, it was the emotions that the concerts help to give expression to peoples'  hopes and those emotions were recognized by Reagan and he responded to them.

    I never felt he personally had much to do with the events taking place to end the cold war. He was in the right place at the right time and yes, did have the courage to speak those words, and benefitted politically from the current of history.

    But it was a little shocking for me to watch the speech after hearing all the hype about it. There was a lot more uncertainty to it than the press and the pundits made of it, IMO.

    Finally people have gotten sick and tired of being had and taken for idiots. Mikhail Gorbachev

    by eve on Sun Sep 09, 2012 at 01:49:50 PM PDT

  •  Jimmy Carter's human rights campaign also... (6+ / 0-)

    deserves a lot more credit than it has ever been given. Citizens of the East Bloc countries thought that we really meant all that stuff about freedom; this message was absolutely corrosive for Soviet control of Poland, Czechoslovakia, East Germany et al.

    My brother in law had the chance to travel to Moscow around 1982 and spent several weeks there with an art group. He was astonished to find that many Muscovites spoke fluent English, that cynicism and contempt for Soviet rule was almost universal, and that there was widespread admiration for Western freedoms in general and Jimmy Carter's human rights campaign in particular. My brother i law predicted to me at the time that the Soviet Union was going to collapse before too long. Candidly I thought he was nuts; but he was quite correct.

  •  Cell phones, the control of communication. (3+ / 0-)

    When the anti Gorbachev coup began the nation was by then filled with reporters with satellite phones.  This was another factor in the collapse and I would suggest that although the western concerts were indeed a big part of that collapse, had the Generals in that coup had 100% control of the means of communication, they might have been quite comfortable with a blood bath to stifle those demonstrators like China did a few years later.

    Indeed, China purposefully did not call upon Beijing stationed troops to implement the Tienanmen square blood bath.  They were not sure they could trust them to shoot at kids demonstrating in the streets.  So they imported troops from far off provinces to do the deed, and no doubt propagandized those troops all they was as they traveled to Beijing.  

  •  You Gotta Give Reagan (and Thatcher ) credit (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Zornorph, jds1978

    Both of them recognized Gorbachev for who he was and not just another hardline leader. Reagan, against the counsel of his advisers,  extended the olive branch to Gorby.  

    One of the mighty empires of the world, armed to the teeth with nuclear missiles, fell without a shot.  History could have been different, very different.

    This is not a troll, in general I am not a fan of Reagan.  We are now witnessing the denouement of his economic policies, but I give credit where it is due.

    •  The only thing I give Reagan/Bush credit for... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ....was handling the disintigration of the USSR without there being a nuclear exchange.

      The whole break-up of the Soviet Union along ethnic lines had always been an possible end game scenario and the play book usually went along with WWIII

      Who Built MittBot2012?

      by jds1978 on Sun Sep 09, 2012 at 03:03:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  You're all wrong (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    happymisanthropy, Zwoof

    According to evangelicals it was prayer and candles the brought down the wall. Not heathen rock and roll. Google Christian Fuhrer if you can stomach the BS
    If the music's too loud, you're too old

  •  And please don't forget Jimmy Carter. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jds1978, Debby, Nedsdag

    His ramping up of the military and cancelling the Moscow Olympics did more damage to the Soviets, according to most prominent Soviets, than anything the Reagan or Bush administrations did.

    Still enjoying my stimulus package.

    by Kevvboy on Sun Sep 09, 2012 at 02:38:39 PM PDT

  •  I've always hated that stupid and wrongheaded (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Anak, jds1978, Zwoof

    #Republican belief that former president Ronald Reagan was somehow responsible for the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the tearing down of the Berlin Wall the night of November 9, 1989.

    I've always said that I thought it was much more the result of products like Levi Jeans and the US Television and Movie Industry, both of which were high-dollar black-market items during my youth (1960-1970s). Reportedly, very large numbers of them were continuously entering the Soviet Union Nation/States; and there were rumors abounding at the time that this contraband was being helped on it's way into the Soviet Empire by our own CIA.

    Personally, I think Ronald Reagan just happened to be the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue when a crux of history occurred, and he saw it coming (or his advisors did), and he publicly urged the coming social upheaval on with his call of "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"
     -- President Ronald Reagan
         Speech at the Brandenburg Gate
         West Berlin, Germany
         14:20, June 12, 1987

    And the Wall came down in November of 1989, more than two years later.

    and the telling thing is from the Department of State Office of the Historian's own website:

    The Berlin Wall Falls and USSR Dissolves

    Initially, Department of State officials and Bush’s foreign policy team were reluctant to speak publicly about German “reunification” due to fear that hard-liners in both the German Democratic Republic (GDR) and the Soviet Union would stymie reform. Although changes in the GDR leadership and encouraging speeches by Gorbachev about nonintervention in Eastern Europe boded well for reunification, the world was taken by surprise when, during the night of November 9, 1989, crowds of Germans began dismantling the Berlin Wall—a barrier that for almost 30 years had symbolized the Cold War division of Europe. By October 1990, Germany was reunified, triggering the swift collapse of the other East European regimes.
    [emphasis added]

    I can recall being up late at night, watching this happen on CNN (yes, back in 1989 it was the best damned, non-partisian NEWS source out there for global 24/7 coverage).

    It was clear that the US government was caught completely off-guard by this spontaneous event in Germany from the television coverage and the blundering TV interviews that we saw with US Gov't officials (and there wasn't much of that).

    Nice lens to see this through, as it totally supports my personal viewpoint: US products, from jeans to music to movies, and what they bought the US citizens (a stunningly high-level Middle Class) was something USSR citizens wanted too.

    Very, very nice piece.

    Write On!

    "Taxes are what we pay for civilized society.''
    -- SCOTUS Justice O.W. Holmes Jr
    "I like paying taxes...with them, I buy Civilization"
    -- Angie in WA State

    by Angie in WA State on Sun Sep 09, 2012 at 02:47:47 PM PDT

    •  Even East Germany was totally (5+ / 0-)

      caught off-guard, since it wasn't supposed to happen; that it did was an accident.

      There was a very detailed article in Der Spiegel a few years back that explains what happened the night of Nov 9, 1989. A government spokesman was speaking to reporters. Someone asked him about changes to travel restrictions. He wasn't prepared for that question, so he just read what was written on a document he happened to have with him. Iirc, he wasn't supposed to read what was written there. Anyway, it sounded like he had just announced that travel restrictions would be dropped right then and there.

      For a while, there was some confusion. Did he really just say what we thought he said? People started gathering at the Wall. Guards were confused and tried to get more info. Funnily enough, the main guy who could have cleared everything up was at the opera house (or at the symphony) and couldn't be reached. Eventually, the guards decided, well, ok, guess we should open the check points.

      One boy against the Stock Market all Wall Street ascream. --Allen Ginsberg, "Elegy Ché Guévara"

      by Anak on Sun Sep 09, 2012 at 03:13:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  "Accident" and "caught off-guard": BINGO! (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Anak, milkbone

        This is my recollection too.
        Someone mentioned above that REAGAN CAME TO BERLIN 2 YEARS EARLIER. Republicans don't know what they are talking about.
        That wall would have collapsed anyway, sooner or later. Some people said Gorbatchev was genius.
        Other people argued that Gorbatchev was the biggest idiot: It was more like family feud/ national security/ internal affair style. History will tell. Reagan couldn't do anything.  

  •  Don't forget the Beatles (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Anak, netop, mookins, Debby, SherwoodB, Zwoof

    Millions of youth in the former Soviet Union got Beatle haircuts and black market records, formed Beatle copy bands, and generally checked out of the dominant discourse, choosing to inhabit a universe of love, peace, and understanding.

    "It's not like lightning or earthquakes. We've got a bad thing made by men, and by God that's something we can change." John Steinbeck

    by Snarky McAngus on Sun Sep 09, 2012 at 03:07:05 PM PDT

  •  The VCR played a significant role as well. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Zwoof, SherwoodB

    The Soviet controlled media continuously spewed propaganda depicting the US as a hotbed of race riots, ghettos and poverty, and being led by a rich elite that used the forces of government to impoverish workers.  A Russian Jew, who immigrated to my town in 1993 told me he saw a change in Russia during Reagan's terms for a different reason.  He said bootleg copies of American TV shows began a growing circulation in that time.  He said the shows made it clear that everything their government had been telling them about our country was not true.  He shared that the two shows that had the most impact on him were the Dukes of Hazard and Dallas.  He said he especially liked the Dukes, as it depicted the poorest of Americans (hillbillies, and white I would note) living, in his words, "well enough for any wants", and needless to say Daisy impressed him.  But the big observation he made was that in every episode the Duke boys battled the law, openly and without fear, with the support of friends and neighbors. No Stazi, no gulags.  

    The revelation of a more true America through our culture, TV, music, movies, etc., pulled back the iron curtain and in a short time every Russian had seen generations of official lies exposed.  Their government as it had existed was doomed.

  •  Truman? Marshall? Kennan? It was 50 years. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Real Change, happymisanthropy

    Really it was bi-partisan effort started by realists in 1945 that contained the Soviet Union and let their own stupid policies gradually undermine their economy.

    Marshall Plan financed rebuilding of western Europe

    Must give credit to Eisenhower, Kennedy, LBJ (sort of - though he escalated the wrong war), Nixon, Ford and Carter too - Brzezinski went to the Khyber Pass.  Certainly Eisenhower stood firm. Kennedy stood up to the wall when it was built. ("Ich bin ein Berliner").

    Nixon certainly put immense pressure on the Soviets by making a deal with Mao and PR China.

    DeGaulle and Adenauer also contributed immensely.  
    Havel, Solzhenitsyn,

    A long long list of people fought the Soviets peacefully, letting it rot from within.

    Reagan was there when it fell down - and these lunatics claim he did something special.

  •  Thank you Recue Rangers (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    A nice surprise when I got home this evening and saw 50 new comments from this mornings diary.

    When you're born you get a ticket to the freak show. When you're born in America, you get a front row seat. George Carlin

    by Zwoof on Sun Sep 09, 2012 at 04:05:41 PM PDT

  •  Music is a powerful thing (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Zwoof, Debby

    I wish we had a more prominent protest music movement in this country. During the Bush years I was constantly wishing a new Phil Ochs or Buffy Ste.-Marie would appear. Oh I know there were a few musicians protesting, but IMO not nearly enough and not widely heard enough.

    I was just listening to a labor show on Daily Kos radio where one of the guests made the point that even though Reagan gets the credit for getting the wall torn down, a bigger factor was probably that the West Germans and West Berliners were driving BMWs while the East Germans and East Berliners were stuck with Trabants. His point was that getting glimpses of a much better standard of living, sometimes mere meters away, contributed as much to the fall of the Berlin Wall as anything. The ability to hear Western music on the other side of the wall undoubtedly falls into that category.

    You and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children's children what it was once like in America when 25% of the population was batshit insane.

    by Omir the Storyteller on Sun Sep 09, 2012 at 04:07:32 PM PDT

  •  well, not really (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Anak, Real Change, Lestatdelc

    But it was a fun piece!
    The Soviet Union had been crumbling for years, and its infrastructure had reached a pretty firm point of no return. The class differences, the abject poverty in the more rural areas, etc., all combined in that perfect storm. Also if you read the coverage done by some of the reporters based in Russia -- and not just Moscow -- during those years, you see a pattern in their reporting about these issues. They reported what was happening, but really didn't know what it was they were seeing.
    Working with as many Russia experts and linguists as I do, this canard about Reagan makes me crazy! Why won't it DIE?!

    Life is a shipwreck. But we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats. — Voltaire

    by agrenadier on Sun Sep 09, 2012 at 04:25:11 PM PDT

  •  Music has no boundaries. With a universal language (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    In the case of Germany, I think politicians used musicians to fight communism. Cleverly knowing that young people will be future leaders.
    Reagan has nothing to do with it.  But again, Reagan is an actor.

  •  Rock, paper scissors, concrete (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    we know who wins that one :>

    Thanks Zwoof, that Springsteen interview was great too.

    This machine kills Fascists.

    by KenBee on Sun Sep 09, 2012 at 06:08:40 PM PDT

  •  I think trade unions and a little group called... (0+ / 0-)

    Solidarity had the most impact.

    Just sayin'


    Mitch Gore

    Want to end too big to fail banks? Then move your money and they will no longer be too big.

    by Lestatdelc on Sun Sep 09, 2012 at 06:13:53 PM PDT

  •  the fall of the wall (0+ / 0-)

    I vote for Ted Turner.  When the east Germans saw refrigerators avaialabe in stores in the west on satelite tv......that's all she wrote.  Reagan was artful in sensing opportunity.  Sometimes we don't give enough credit to free markets.  I know the right uses free markets as a motto but they don't cherish free enterprise any more than Stalin.  they abuse free enterprise.   But when it's really properly used it brings great innovation, great hope.  So, my vote is that Ted Turner had more effect on the fall of the wall than Reagan.

  •  I'd also credit the anti-nuclear movement in that (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    they linked up with a strong human rights movement behind the iron curtain to protest against nuclear weapons.  

    At the time, Moscow warmed to the anti-nuke crowd because they were giving western governments fits, so they allowed demonstrations*.  Human rights groups (such as then-Czechoslovakia's Charter 77 movement), however, took advantage of this public space to advance their agenda (which also had long-included an anti-nuclear weapons/pro peace stance), forcing the bureaucracies into a clear dilemma to either ease up on their crackdown of these organizations, or to risk losing the momentum on arms control.  

    Add into this the flight of Mathias Rust which badly showed up the Soviet military, already reeling from the Afghanistan disaster and the shooting down of a Korean airlines passenger plane.**

    Speaking of the Soviet's not-so excellent adventure in Afghani-land, that had been a huge drag on their economy, and now that it was winding down, the rising unemployment (all those soldiers with nothing to do) and lack of military spending provoked serious crises in the Soviet economic system.

    Put it all together to the music, and down comes the wall.

    *I'm not here repeating the RW spew about Soviet and East German secret police and intelligence officers (spies) infiltration of the movement, which was and is complete BS.  I'm talking about Soviet tolerance for public dissent within the iron curtain countries.

    **Nor am I here saying I agree with the claims of Western governments about the "cold-bloodedness" of the Soviet shoot-down.  I'm talking about the propaganda hay that Western governments were able to make of it.

    You can't stand up for Main Street when you're genuflecting to Wall Street

    by caul on Sun Sep 09, 2012 at 07:09:20 PM PDT

    •  IOW, everybody had a hand. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Now comes the jostling for the credit.

      Jostling for the credit is, alas, important, because how this matter is settled determines how various groups of people get treated down the line.  In fact, this thread is all about doing just such a thing.

      The '60s were simply an attempt to get the 21st Century started early....Well, what are we waiting for? There's no deadline on a dream!

      by Panurge on Sun Sep 09, 2012 at 08:54:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The East German youth (0+ / 0-)

    wanted their MTV.

    Hige sceal þe heardra, heorte þe cenre, mod sceal þe mare, þe ure mægen lytlað

    by milkbone on Sun Sep 09, 2012 at 08:27:03 PM PDT

  •  Apropos of nothing... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    samddobermann wife was a political science major with a minor in Russian at BU in the late 70s.  (One of her professors was a fella by the name of Zinn you may have heard of.)  Those of her professors who studied the Soviet Union, traveled, and had lived there were all in agreement that the Cold War would come to an end when the generation of Soviet leadership that had been around in WWII died off. Which is exactly what happened when Gorbachev came along.  

    Sure, Springsteen and the Eurythmics played their part.  Our popular culture was a much more potent export than Reagan's hoary prejudices and glib sloganeering, after all.  As did the fact that the USSR was doomed to collapse under its own mismanagement sooner or later.  (Kinda like we're doing right now.)

    BTW, you know who also took credit for the collapse of the Soviet Union?  Osama bin Laden.  Pretty crazy, huh?

    When you punch enough holes through steerage, the first-class cabins sink with the rest of the ship.

    by Roddy McCorley on Sun Sep 09, 2012 at 10:56:06 PM PDT

  •  how dare you not give "St. Ronnie of Raygun" (0+ / 0-)

    full, 150% credit for the wall coming down, and the ensuing breakup of the soviet union? you cad! why, just everyone knows that, had it not been for "St. Ronnie", the soviet union would still exist, to this day, stronger than ever. the fact that it was already suffering from an economic implosion had nothing to do with it i tells ya!

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