Daily Bread for 11.9.19

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of forty-three.  Sunrise is 6:40 AM and sunset 4:37 PM, for 9h 57m 23s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing gibbous with 91.3% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the one thousand ninety-sixth day.

On this day in 1989, the Berlin Wall falls.

Recommended for reading in full:

 Katrin Bennhold writes The Fall of the Berlin Wall in Photos: An Accident of History That Changed The World (‘The Communist regime was prepared for everything “except candles and prayers.” East Germany’s peaceful 1989 revolution showed that societies that don’t reform, die’):

It [party official’s Schabowski’s remarks on free movement between East and West Berlin] was a mistake. The Politburo had planned nothing of the sort. The idea had been to appease the growing resistance movement with minor adjustments to visa rules — and also to retain the power to deny travel.

But many took Mr. Schabowski by his word. After West Germany’s main evening news, popular with East Germans who had long stopped trusting their own state-controlled media, effectively declared the wall open, crowds started heading for checkpoints at the Berlin Wall, demanding to cross.

At one of those checkpoints, a Stasi officer who had always been loyal to the regime, was working the night shift. His name was Lt. Col. Harald Jäger. And his order was to turn people away.

As the crowd grew, the colonel repeatedly called his superiors with updates. But no new orders were forthcoming. At some point he listened in to a call with the ministry, where he overheard one senior official questioning his judgment.

“Someone in the ministry asked whether Comrade Jäger was in a position to assess the situation properly or whether he was acting out of fear,” Mr. Jäger recalled years later in an interview with Der Spiegel. “When I heard that, I’d had enough.”

Shortly after, Mr. Jäger defied his superiors and opened the crossing, starting a domino effect that eventually hit all checkpoints in Berlin. By midnight, triumphant easterners had climbed on top of the wall in the heart of the city, popping champagne corks and setting off fireworks in celebration.

Not a single shot was fired. And no Soviet tanks appeared.

That, said Axel Klausmeier, director of the Berlin Wall Foundation, was perhaps the greatest miracle of that night. “It was a peaceful revolution, the first of its kind,” he said. “They were prepared for everything, except candles and prayers.”

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