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European

Nov. 9, 1989 the day the Berlin Wall fell and peace broke out all over northern Europe. The party that ensued was legendary as hundreds of thousands danced upon the wall then drunks attempted the inconceivable, they started breaking the wall apart piece by piece.

One techno-pop song by Nena was a favorite of the crowds. Written five years earlier it barely got play in Germany but its video got play on America's brand new MTV and across the ocean and far from home it became the first German hit of the music video era. Like all facets of western popular music there was a huge underground following for it in the Soviet occupied areas of Eastern Europe. By 1989 the crushing presence of Russian troops was 34 years old and the Germans, Poles, Czechs, Hungarians, Bulgarians and Romanians were tired of communism without prosperity or good music.

In the late summer Hungary in particular decided to not enforce a crossing into western Europe. A trickle soon became a flood as eastern copies of FIAT sedans jammed up rural roads looking for the path west. Cars poured out of East Germany into Hungary looking for the dog leg route west around the Soviet forces then positioned on the West German border. Through that first hole in the fence between Hungary and Austria, where no front line troops were stationed, estimated hundreds of thousands crossed over.

When it became obvious no Soviet forces were going to punish Hungary for their going AWOL on the border, the spirit of rebellion spread became contagious. On November 9th 1989 crowds approached the Berlin Wall, the guards asked their commanders what to do? Let them pass.

So began the longest dance party of recent memory.

 

About the Author

Robert Alexander Boyle

Robert Alexander Boyle

 Alexander Boyle is a graduate of Trinity College, Hartford, CT where he majored in History. Prior to graduation he co-authored the seminal book Acid Rain in 1983. Alex has worked for the Metropo...