The East German lieutenant colonel who gave the fateful order to throw open the Berlin Wall 25 years ago said he wept in silence a few moments later as hordes of euphoric East Germans swept past him into West Berlin to get their first taste of freedom.
Harald Jaeger said in an interview with Reuters that he spent hours before his history-changing decision trying in vain to get guidance from superiors on what to do about the 20,000 protesters at his border crossing clamouring to get out.
When he had had enough of being laughed at, ridiculed and told by commanders to sort it out for himself, Jaeger ordered the 46 armed guards under his command to throw open the barrier.
He then stepped back and cried - tears of relief that the standoff had ended without violence, tears of frustration that his superiors had left him in the lurch and tears of despair from a man who had so long believed in the Communist ideal.
He had joined the border guard unit in 1961. Over 28 years, he saw the barrier grow from an infancy of coiled barbed wire, to a brick wall and then to maturity as a towering 160 Km (100 mile) double white concrete screen that encircled West Berlin, cutting across streets, between families, through graveyards.
keyboard shortcuts: V vote up article J next comment K previous comment