Where were you when the Wall came down?
Twenty-five years ago the Berlin Wall came down. We tend to remember disasters, where we were when bad news hits. But the fall of the Wall was good news that sticks in my memory.
In August of 1989 Hungary disabled its physical border defenses with Austria, allowing Germans who wanted to emigrate to travel through Hungary to Austria to West Germany. The East German authorities quickly disallowed travel to Hungary, but the stage was set. Demonstrators gathered all over East Germany chanting, “We want out!”
In early November over half a million gathered in East Berlin’s Alexanderplatz. On November 9th the authorities decided to open the checkpoints, and—in a bureaucratic snafu—announced this in a press-conference before telling the border guards. Thousands of Germans flooded through the gates, mobbing formerly closed-off areas, even juggling atop the Wall. Over the next several months, the Wall came down.
Less than a year later, East and West Germany reunified under a democratic government. Europe’s borders were re-drawn for the first time since World War II. The Berlin Wall was the first part of the Iron Curtain to come down.
Times change. Markets move. Adding millions of producers and consumers to global markets has created trillions of dollars in wealth. It’s good to remember how it began.
Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA
Chief Investment Officer
Leave a comment if you have any questions—I read them all!