The mistake that toppled the Berlin Wall

  • 🎬 Video
  • ℹ️ Description
One of the Cold War's biggest moments began at a routine press conference.

The fall of the Berlin Wall has a lot of memorable moments: US President Ronald Reagan’s declaration to “tear down this wall”; David Hasselhoff singing at the Brandenburg Gate; and Berliners wielding pickaxes and hammers, tearing apart the visible symbol of a divided Europe.

But a less spectacular moment actually triggered the crumbling of the wall. It happened at a routine press conference on November 9th, 1989, when East German spokesperson Günter Schabowski was handed an announcement about relaxed travel regulations. In his lack of preparation, he mistakenly insinuated that the checkpoints in the Berlin Wall — which up until then were guarded by soldiers with orders to shoot anyone trying to cross — were now open (das sofort, unverzüglich). They weren’t, but that announcement was all East Berliners needed to storm the wall and demand they be allowed to cross into West Berlin. After that, the wall became obsolete, and soon fell.

💬 Comments on the video

“We dont make mistakes, just happy little accidents” - Bob Ross

Author — Alberto Neurohr


If the reporter didn't ask the question, '' when does it take effect? '' history as we know it would have been different. They should thank that reporter for asking that question.

Author — Mushroom Lau


“They started unrolling kilometres of barbed wire.” Finally, at long last, metric! Sweet, beautiful, simple metric!

Author — James King


That Raegan statement is only a thing in the USA. Nobody in Europe remembers that.

Author — Ruth Cuadrado


"Immediately. Without delay" is kind of a meme here among those with an interest in politics/history. Good on Vox for putting a spotlight on Schabowski!

Author — senkus


Let's just hope that Korea does the same little mistakes

Author — ohgosh


Is this the orginal "Well they cant stop us all"?

Author — Tori :P


Republicans then: “TEAR DOWN THIS WALL”
Republicans now: “Build the wall”

Author — Sashimiroll


"Massive peaceful demonstrations."
Romania: Well yes, but actually no.

Author — Professor ES


As a german, i can only tell that you have published a beautiful video. Even though i am well aware of this event and It's details i got goosebumbs.
Well done Vox, keep on doing good work!

Author — everydaymashup


Ends the cold war by accident "oh I'm totally getting fired"

Author — Luke Swan


the guy who asked “when does this go into effect” literally. Quite literally unified Germany

Author — Oliver Anscombe


From a german citizen i can say: well made video! Congrats, it brought me to tears haha:)

Author — Paty H


The reporter should be awarded Pulitzer prize for the action asking "when does it take effect"

Author — Berembah


the joy coming from the people after they crossed is amazing. it almost made me cry.

Author — Fern Vale Volante


“According to my information...Immediately, without delay”

“Why do I hear boss music?”

Author — Artemis Wolf


7:24 thought this dude was from the future, recording this historic moment with a smartphone

Author — Parallel Timelines


The Berlin War rose by intention.

Fell by accident.

Author — BHuang92


It’s hilarious seeing how confused American sare when they learned they’re not the “heroes” that brought down the Berlin Wall.

Author — Shima Kaido


Schabowski: Immediately. Without delay.
The wall: well it’s over

Author — Martin Amarilla