Thirty years ago, in 1989, revolutions in the Warsaw Pact countries led to the collapse of the communist system in central and eastern Europe and foretold the end of the Soviet Union. To assess the long-term impact of these changes, join Current Time for a look at how people today remember the fall of the Berlin Wall, Czechoslovakia's Velvet Revolution, and the overthrow of the Ceausescu regime in Romania.
The upheavals of 1989 that led to the collapse of eastern Europe’s communist governments would prove to be precursors of the USSR’s own collapse, but, at the time, this was far from clear. To find out firsthand how then Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev interpreted the destruction of the Berlin Wall and Czechoslovakia’s Velvet Revolution, Current Time spoke with Andrei Grachev, Gorbachev’s press secretary from August – December 1991.
How A Spy Helped Spark The Velvet Revolution
In late November 1989, just over a week after the Berlin Wall's demolition began, a rumor about a student protester killed by police in Prague became a catalyst for Czechoslovakia’s Velvet Revolution But the “dead student” in question appears to have been an employee with the then state security services. Current Time spoke with the ex-officer, Ludvik Zifcak, about his undercover role during the final weeks of communist rule in Czechoslovakia.
How Theater Professionals Helped Stage The Velvet Revolution
Thirty years ago, theater professionals in Czechoslovakia used their skills and renown to help rally public opinion against the brutal breakup of a November 17, 1989 anti-government rally in Prague. The demonstrators’ defiance would lead to the Velvet Revolution, a peaceful changeover from communist to democratic rule. Current Time spoke to some of those who took part, and who remember when, for a moment, all of Czechoslovakia was their stage.
A Concrete, Communist Kiss That Was 'All About Love'
After the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989, one of its most famous symbols became a piece of graffiti known as The Fraternal Kiss. Completed in June 1990, this mural depicts Soviet Communist Party General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev kissing East German leader Erich Honecker on the lips; a greeting then common among Soviet bloc leaders. For the 30th anniversary of the Berlin Wall's demolition, Current Time spoke to the graffiti’s creator, Russian artist Dmitry Vrubel.
Why Russian Media Mourn East Germany
Ten years ago, Russian TV channels depicted the 1989 demolition of the Berlin Wall between the two Germanies as a triumph for freedom and democracy. But today, the rhetoric has sharply shifted. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova declared that people’s hopes for “a peaceful, prosperous, united Europe” after the Wall have not been met. Current Time’s Footage Vs. Footage program examined how Russian media match that message.
In Moscow And Berlin, Remembering The Berlin Wall
Thirty years ago, on November 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall, the ultimate symbol of the Cold War divide, was finally pulled down, following mass protests in East Germany. Its destruction signaled a rapprochement, in general, between East and West. For this anniversary, Current Time took to the streets in Berlin and Moscow to find out what people of all generations remember about the construction of the Wall.
Back In The GDR: How 1989 Impacted Vladimir Putin
Thirty years ago this November, a young KGB officer, Vladimir Putin, witnessed firsthand the mass demonstrations that helped end East Germany's authoritarian system of government. To find out how 1989, central and eastern Europe's year of revolutions, impacted the future Russian president's perceptions of protests and power, Current Time traveled to Dresden, the eastern German city where Putin worked from 1985 until 1990.