09 11 1989
We flew to West Berlin and made our way by coach to the East via Checkpoint Charlie(held up for a couple of hours which was the 'norm' at that time) and then on to our very posh hotel only a few hundred yards from the crossing.
After checking in(this hotel was for western diplomats and business people and only accepted western currency..very odd I thought)we made our way to the conference centre and were met by our hosts who were most charming and got started. The atmosphere was quite surreal as there was a feeling anything might 'kick-off' in the streets and in fact there was a strict curfew on evening movement and on any public demonstrations with orders to shoot if necessary...exciting and frightening.
A few of us befriended a couple of students and snuck out our hotel in the evening to 'hang out' with them at the student union..good music good fun and innocent..but not allowed.
On the last night of the conference (the 9th ) we invited our new friends to our hotel for supper and were enjoying a splendid meal and conversation when a waiter came to our table and said there was a rumour that Checkpoint Charlie was about to allow a free flow between east and west with simple ID.True or false this was not to be missed and we(8 or 9 of us including our two young friends who had never been to the west before)quickly made our way to the checkpoint.
There were about 60 to a 100 people gathered around a few bemused guards who seemed unsure of what to do,but without much fuss an officer said something to the guard at the front of the excited line of people and they let us pass through with a skant glance at our passports and ID cards and we made our way across 'no man's land'to the west.
It was amazing...there were thousands of people on the other side cheering and yelling and throwing rose petals in the air...it was like the war(cold) was over.
We of course made our way to a pub to celebrate where our young student friends insisted on buying the first round.I went to the bar with them to help carry the beer back to the table but on trying to pay with their east German money they were told in a horrible unfriendly and condescending manner 'we don't take that money here!'.They did take my credit card,but what a welcome for these guys....It did not spoil the moment however...but it did remind us that not all things were changing.
Still on one glorious evening we thought the world was going to change for the better and for ever.....I still believe.
Give peace a chance and Long live the Revolution !!