In my novel, The Puzzle People, I place one of my main characters, Stefan Hansel, at a pivotal point in the history of the Cold War. I place Stefan at the Bornholmer Strasse border crossing in East Berlin on the evening of November 9, 1989. The following YouTube video was what I used to create this scene, so check out the video and see history in the making: 

During a press conference on November 9, East German bureaucrats inadvertently announced that citizens with passports could cross the border between East and West Berlin. The result: Within hours, tens of thousands of East Germans flooded the various checkpoints throughout the city. The border guards were taken completely by surprise, as you can see in the YouTube video. And as more and more people arrived, demanding to be allowed across the border, the guards began to let some people through, as a safety valve.

No use. The guards at Bornholmer Strasse saw that it was impossible to keep the crowds at bay, so they relented and opened the floodgates. The border between East and West Berlin opened, and within days the Wall began to fall.

Bornholmer Strasse was the first Berlin checkpoint to open on the pivotal night of November 9. This was where the fall of the Berlin Wall–and the Soviet Union–all began.

By Doug Peterson



History by the Slice