The annus mirabilis of 1989 got off to an inauspicious start when, on 18 January, Honecker proclaimed that the Berlin Wall ‘will still be standing in 50 or 100 years, if the reasons for its existence have not been removed’ [211: 592–3]. As if to emphasize the point, border guards shot dead 20-year-old barman Chris Gueffroy as he tried to escape to West Berlin on the night of 5–6 February. Chris was about to be conscripted into the NVA but wanted no part in defending a state he detested. Instead, he yearned to travel abroad, particularly to the United States. His death unleashed a storm of international protest, prompting the SED General Secretary to revoke, albeit secretly, the ‘shoot-to-kill’ order in April [211: 588–90]. Hence Gueffroy became the last person to die this way. Honecker himself seemed blissfully unaware of the profound midlife crisis that plagued his beloved ‘workers’ and peasants’ paradise’. He would soon discover that the existential danger came not from the Capitalist devil but from the guardian angels in Moscow.
Swipe to navigate through the chapters of this book
Please log in to get access to this content
To get access to this content you need the following product:
- Collapse, 1989–90
- Macmillan Education UK
- Sequence number
- Chapter number