Yesterday we went to the Newseum in Washington DC. It’s a fascinating place of which we only managed to scratch the surface, but included one photo that held particular significance to me.
You see, this picture sums up my memory of the fall of the Berlin Wall through the eyes of a child living in Austria in 1989.
As a family, we’d travelled across the border to Eastern Europe many times. Waited hours at the border to do so, seen people’s cars turned over by scary looking police officers and stayed at Westerner-only hotels.
Then in September 1989, the border between Austria in the West and Hungary in the East opened and families from East Germany travelled down through Hungary, over to Austria and back up to West Germany.
As a child, my understanding of the political significance of this was limited. What I do remember is the roads around Vienna suddenly full of Trabants – or “TinTin cars” as my friend called them – and asking my dad why there were so many of them. I just wish I remembered what he said…