Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Picnic that helped topple the Berlin Wall

My piece on the Pan-European picnic -- an event on the Austro-Hungarian border in 1989 that (accidentally) helped bring down the Berlin Wall -- is the lead story this morning at Global Post.

Along with the picnic's organizers (including Otto von Habsburg's daughter), I was able to interview Aprad Bella, the border guard who had to make a split decision whether to use force to try to stop a crowd of hundreds of desperate East Germans who rushed his border post during the event. As you'll read, his decision helped turn the tide of history.

Celebrations commemorating the 20th anniversary of the event are underway today in Sopron, Hungary, with German chancellor Angela Merkel (an East German herself) and Hungarian President Laszlo Solyom in attendance.

Photo courtesy of the Pan European Picnic Foundation archives.

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