The 9th of November 1989 was a day of its own, especially for me, well, also for me as well as for everybody else who did live this very unexpected moment in Berlin. The day before, the 8th, I came back from a 35 hours never ending train trip from Moscow! As a student of Political Science of the Free University of Berlin (West!) we went there to experience “life” what Gorbacev’s Perestroika really meant. It was a very interesting journey (we heard there, in a Moscow travel bus, about the huge 1 million people demonstration at Alexanderplatz in Berlin, the 6th of November and it was, these times, still possible to come with jeans and take home caviar for change), and it was a very very long journey!
In order to get recovered as soon and as well as possible, I decided, the following day, the 9th, to go to the gym in the afternoon and have a swim in the gym’s pool and go to the sauna; a classical relax program.
In the evening, relaxed but still very tired, I finished there and took the U-Bahn from Möckernbrücke to Mehringdamm, changed to the U 7 to Hermannplatz, then with U 8 up to Hermannstrasse and walked home… I still remember that I was like in trance, I somehow noticed that there is something somewhat very different:
another smell in the street, another noise…
I felt it, but I was not able to realize what was going on… I was and felt like being in a wrong movie… And arrived at my house in Silbersteinstrasse, went up, switched on TV and saw in the news: that the “wall” was open… and then realized that it was not that I was in a wrong movie but that the world got suddenly another screenplay.
I could not do anything else as stick to the TV, watching, not living what was going on… until about 23.30 h when a friend of mine called me from Washington D.C. Sheila just said: Hi Frank! What are you doing at home?
What a historic moment! Why are you not I the streets?”
Sheila was a good friend that I knew a year before, 1988, when IMF and World Bank had their Joint Annual Meeting in the divided city and I had an interim job there in the legendary congress center ICC of a month, preparing this enormous event, serving in the “social office” which was the protocol department.
It was her call from the other side of the Atlantic that made me awake, that motivated me to yes, to go out, to live that very moment, which was a moment in life that not all generations have the luck to experiment. I took the Nightbus, all from Hermannplatz to Kudamm, alone, just by myself, and yet, within a collective wave of human beings, all melted together in a clash of civilization unexpected, we all being virtual brothers and sisters, laughing, screaming, drinking free beer in all bars. The population of West-Berlin seemed to have doubled this night, and the following days as well, but already less hysteric.
I don’t remember when and how I got home in the early morning hours of November, 10th. But I knew: it will not be same any more, my city, my life, our world.