Berlin Wall. Riccardo Ehrmann, Italian chronicler who made him "fall" with a question: "Schabowski said 'Now', and that came down"


Harald Jager was in front of the TV that night. He ate at the command cafeteria. When in the screen Gunter Schabowski pronounced the fateful "From now on", Harald felt a drop of sweat slip down his back. "I thought" What does this madman say? "," He said recently. Why the spokesman of the Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands he had just announced that the law that prevented expatriation was exceeded and that going to the West was now possible. A few minutes later Lieutenant Colonel Jager got up and looked out the window: in front of the bar, but at a safe distance from the soldiers' rifles, there were about twenty. An hour later at the crossing point of Bornholmer Strasse tens of thousands of people had arrived. "Tell the guards to send them home," his superiors had told him once, twice, three times. But it wasn't possible. So Jager had given orders to lift the bar, certifying the fall of the Berlin Wall and the birth of the new Europe.

that 9 November 1989 Jager did not know or care, but the journalist who asked Schabowski's unprepared questionab sofort"(" Immediately ") was an Italian. Is called Riccardo Ehrmann. The live press conference on state television was slipping away like all those of the Sed, despite the movements triggered by the Perestroika that crossed the party and the country as telluric waves. "It was announced that same morning and the spokesman told us only that" it was important "- he tells on the phone from Madrid, where he lives today, the then correspondent of theHandle in Berlin – But for the communist regime they were all important, so there was no reason to think that they should say something sensational ".

What happened instead?
Schabowski read the written statement of the politburo, of which I have a copy because he himself gave it to me years later – recalls Ehrmann, 90 years, the stentorian and dry voice as an agency launch – He announced that the party had decided to loosen the restrictions provided by the law that prevented the expatriation to the citizens of the GDR. I asked him three questions. I asked him if the easing of restrictions was also valid for West Berlin and he replied: "Yes, it is valid for all borders". Then I told him: "Without a passport?" And he said to me: "Yes, only with an identity document". And then: 'Ab wann?', 'Since when?'. And he said, "There is no writing here, but I am sure that it is immediately. From now on'.

And it all came down.
The nice thing is that in the piece of paper there is really written 'Ab sofort"Or" Immediately ". These are the words with which the second paragraph opens. So probably in the excitement of those moments he won't have had time to read the dispatch well. According to what I could reconstruct, the sheet had been given to him just before the conference by Egon Krenz in person.

In the Ehrman circle at the press conference of the Sed spokesman

The man who had taken the role of Erich Honecker at the head of the state and who believed that Perestroika could have saved the GDR from collapse.
Yes, and if he is so obviously Schabowski had not read the communique or had given him only a last one before making the announcement. The reconstructions of German journalists who said that the new rules should have come into force at 4 am the following day are not true.

The demonstration of how it is sometimes the case to determine the great turning points of history.
As happens in the life of the infinitely smaller thing in history than men are. But in this case History was already turning. And there are those who say that there was a direct influence of Gorbachev, which was in stark contrast to the Stalinist regime in eastern Germany.

Where today nostalgic parties of other regimes are full of votes. In Thuringia Alternative fur Deutschland he took…
The Nazis, you mean.

Their. They took 23.4% in lands that belonged to the former German Democratic Republic. Why?
A colleague from there who was with them a little while ago tells me that it is a reaction of many Eastern Germans who feel they are treated worse than Westerners. But I also believe it depends on the strong right wind blowing over Europe.

By the way, with that question you gave the last shoulder to the "earthly" structure of the value system on which the left-wing parties of half of Europe had been built.
I couldn't imagine any of this. Then they accused me of everything. They said I was an accomplice of the communist regime, a puppet of his. Magazine Time he came to publish an article saying that the press conference had been a staging in which I was an accomplice. But to make that announcement, no regime in the world would have needed a cue or a trained question. There was also a German journalist who told al Wall Street Journal that it was not possible for an Italian to express himself in such perfect German, so even though the cameras looked at me it was he who spoke and doubled me.

Did you answer him? In 2015, even the finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble publicly recognized you as the leader.
I told the journalist the truth: I was born and raised in Florence, but the son of Polish Jews who came to Italy in the 1920s to escape the first racial persecutions that took place in Poland. At home they spoke German and I had a German governess, so I speak the language almost as well as Italian.

Did you immediately realize that you helped change history?
I didn't realize I did it, I just understood what the spokesman's words meant. I didn't think it meant the end of the Cold War, the Soviet empire and the communist system.

When did you get it?
It took a while. After the press conference I spent moments of terror, pure terror of having given false news. Immediately after the press conference I ran to the nearest border post to see what was happening and when I got there I realized that absolutely nothing happened. That everything was blocked as before. And then I got scared. "He is seeing that I was wrong in full," I said to myself.

Instead a few hours later thousands of people were pressing at the crossings at different points of the Wall.
I returned home, which was also an office, and at the door I found a lady, a neighbor. He was a very high figure in the East German nomenclature. She had been an ambassador for Deutsche Demokratische Republik at the United Nations and, having returned to Berlin, she became a professor of Marxism and Leninism at the Von Humboldt University. The lady was waiting for me at the door and cried. When I arrived she threw herself into my arms and said: "Alles ist vorbei, aber vielleicht ist es besser so", Which means:" It's all over, but maybe it's better this way ".

Then you started reassuring yourself.
Soon after I entered the office and rang the phone. I pick up the phone and I hear a very excited voice from the other side that says: "Riccardo, I am the ambassador of Italy. What the fuck did you do? All my fellow ambassadors tell me that an Italian has done something incredible. " I don't remember what I told him, but today I could tell him with certainty: "Well, yes, I dropped the Berlin Wall".

Is there a wall, even a metaphorical one, that should fall today?
Today in Europe the walls are those that are erected against the emigrants. I know that our former Minister of the Interior says that we must build walls to block these people from entering. I do not agree, building walls is always a mistake.


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