Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

Berlin Wall went down with a party — rather than a bang

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One of the most amazing aspects about the Berlin Wall’s sudden collapse 20 years ago was that no one lost their nerve. Not a single shot was fired. The Cold War ended with the biggest street party Berlin, or any city anywhere, has ever seen. 

Who would have thought that’s how the Berlin Wall would go out? Berlin’s long division was the result of World War Two. The Wall was the focal point of the Cold War — Soviet and American tanks faced off almost barrel-to-barrel at Checkpoint Charlie. Not surprisingly, many people thought that the stalemate would only be changed by another war. But instead on Nov. 9, 1989 there was no bang, no blood. Just a lot of celebrating. And a lot of tears.

That’s for me probably the most fascinating thing about the sudden implosion of the Communist East German regime — it went out so peacefully. And that’s one of the themes that has been touched upon in the myriad of German media accounts in recent weeks ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Wall’s fall on Nov. 9.

It’s also an issue that’s been explored by Reuters correspondents in Berlin past and present — in a series of  stories that you can read on this special page 

The Berlin Wall 2.0

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The Berlin Wall fell 20 years ago on Nov. 9, 1989. A team of Reuters correspondents and multimedia journalists from Berlin and London will be covering the major event in a completely new way — Berlin Wall 2.0. The team from The Berlin Project are joining forces with the Reuters text, pictures and TV correspondents in Berlin to present real-time coverage and impressions of everything going on in Germany’s reunited capital city.

You can also view the best of Reuters’ content on our Berlin Wall global coverage page, follow the team in Berlin on Facebook and get a behind the scenes look at Berlin 2.0 by visiting The Berlin Project. Please send us your thoughts and memories by commenting on the live blog below.

Merkel’s 2nd term off to a bumpy start

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After spending the last four years trapped in a loveless grand coalition with the centre-left Social Democrats, Germany’s conservative chancellor Angela Merkel is looking forward to happier, more productive days in a cosy new centre-right coalition with her preferred partners, the pro-business Free Democrats.

However, rather than smooth sailing with her new, more like-minded coalition partners, it’s turned out to be one turf battle after another between Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats and their Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union, on the one side and the Free Democrats on the other.

Could the “Baron from Bavaria’s” success rock the coalition in Berlin?

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It was a weekend of mixed fortunes for the German
government’s aristocratic AC/DC fan Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg.

    In Sunday’s federal election, the 37-year-old conservative
Economy Minister won 68.1 percent of the direct votes in his
constituency — more than any other politician in Germany, and
nearly 20 points more than Chancellor Angela Merkel — and
earning him the nickname “King of the votes” in German media.

Germany’s Greens celebrate victory in defeat

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Sunday’s federal election threw Germany’s Greens into a state of disarray — should they celebrate their best result ever or mourn the fact they failed to prevent a centre-right coalition and languished in fifth place?

“A Victory that is a Defeat”, “Triumph and Bitterness”, “Celebrations despite missing goal,” read newspaper headlines on Monday.

from Commentaries:

Germans vote for change; will they get it?

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angieGermans have voted for change. A centre-right government with a clear parliamentary majority will replace the ungainly grand coalition of conservatives and Social Democrats that ran Europe's biggest economy for the last four years.

This should mean an end to "steady as she goes" lowest common denominator policies, and at least some reform of the country's tax and welfare system. The liberal Free Democrats, who recorded their best ever result with around 14.7 percent, will try to pull the new government towards tax cuts, health care reform, a reduction in welfare spending and a loosening of job protection in small business.

German election live blog

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Welcome to the live blog of the German election, a showdown between Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (left) and Chancellor Angela Merkel (right). More than 50 Reuters correspondents, photographers and television crews in Berlin and across Germany will be tracking the story throughout the weekend.

And in this box you will be able to follow the latest twists and turns throughout the weekend. We’re using #germanelection as the hashtag if you want to follow us on Twitter.

Will former minister’s stab in the back hurt Germany’s SPD?

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The last time Germany went to the polls, Wolfgang Clement was deputy head of the Social Democrats (SPD), and one of the most powerful figures in government: the “super minister” in charge of both economic and labour market policy, who had previously governed the SPD heartland of North-Rhine Westphalia, home to 18 million people.

 Four years on, Clement is urging the public to vote for one of the centre-left SPD’s most bitter rivals, the business-friendly Free Democrats (FDP).

from Commentaries:

West raises stakes over Iran nuclear programme

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big-3President Obama and the leaders of France and Britain have deliberately raised the stakes in the confrontation over Iran's nuclear programme by dramatising the disclosure that it is building a second uranium enrichment plant. Their shoulder-to-shoulder statements of resolve, less than a week before Iran opens talks with six major powers in Geneva, raised more questions than they answer.

It turns out that the United States has known for a long time (how long?) that Iran had been building the still incomplete plant near Qom. Did it share that intelligence with the U.N. nuclear watchdog, and if not, why not? Why did it wait until now, in the middle of a G20 summit in Pittsburgh, to make the announcement -- after Iran had notified the International Atomic Energy Authority of the plant's existence on Monday, after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had delivered a defiant speech to the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday and after the Security Council had adopted a unanimous resolution calling for an end to the spread of nuclear weapons on Thursday?

Little help from celebs for Germany’s undecided voters

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Nobel prize-winning writer Guenter Grass is dressed in a
mustard-brown cord suit and reading his work to a reverent
audience in a hushed Berlin night club.

It feels more like a book launch than a political campaign
event just days before the German election. Yet as far as
celebrity endorsements for German political parties go, this
is as big as it gets.

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