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East German Who Announced Berlin Wall Opening Dies Age 86

Guenter Schabowski announces the opening of the Berlin Wall during a press conference in East Berlin.

Guenter Schabowski, the senior East German official whose cryptic announcement that the communist country was opening its fortified border precipitated the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, has died at the age of 86.

His widow, Irina Schabowski, told the German news agency dpa that he died on November 1 in a Berlin nursing home.

Politburo spokesman Schabowski's announcement at the end of a news conference on November 9, 1989, put an end to Berlin's 28 years of division by the wall.

Schabowski offhandedly said East Germany was lifting restrictions on travel across its border with West Germany.

Pressed on when the headline-making regulation would take effect, he looked down at his notes and stammered: "As far as I know, this enters into force...this is immediately, without delay."

Soon after Schabowski spoke, Western media reported that East Germany was opening its borders and East Berliners were jamming the first crossing.
Border guards had received no orders to let anyone across, but gave up trying to hold back the crowds.

Based on reporting by AP and dpa