Human wave of East Germans surges across Berlin Wall

Fri Nov 7, 2014 5:46pm EST
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By Katerina Syrimi

WEST BERLIN(Reuters) - (This story, written by former Reuters correspondent Katerina Syrimi in West Berlin on Nov 11, 1989, reported on the human wave of East Germans pouring into West Berlin after the opening of the Berlin Wall. It was opened 25 years ago on Sunday.)

A human wave of East Germans, a quarter of a million strong according to an official estimate, swept through the Berlin Wall on Saturday to pack the pavements of West Berlin 20-deep with sightseers.

Even three new crossing points created during the night could barely cope with the tide of humanity.

The once feared East German border guards were brushed aside as the torrent of people swept through on foot, by car and by subway.

Smartly dressed West Berliners out for Saturday shopping were submerged in a sea of their East German compatriots, easily recognizable in what was almost a uniform of drab blue anoraks and shabby trousers.

Many of the visitors had crossed over on Friday and stayed all night. They wandered wide-eyed down the glittering shopping streets and formed queues hundreds long outside post offices and banks as early as 6 a.m. to collect the 100 marks (54 dollars) being granted to each visitor by the Bonn government.

One young man fighting for his place in one of these queues said: "I'm just going to collect my money today and come back to shop tomorrow when it's quieter."

There was a contrast in the emotions of East Germans crossing at Schlesischer Street, one of the new access points opened today.   Continued...