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One of the greatest all-time blunders in history took place in East Germany. Erich Honecker, the iron-fisted East German leader, stepped down due to an illness and was replaced by a reformer, Egon Krenz. Just before a news conference, with mass demonstrations in Berlin streets, Krenz gave a short note to Guenter Schabowski, a member of the Politburo. He misinterpreted the note to reporters saying, "as a transitional measure... travels to foreign countries is possible." Reports fired questions and Schabowski said the decision meant East Germans could now cross into West Berlin and travel freely. A border guard at the wall watched the news conference on TV and heard the announcement.

In the melee, and unable to get clarification by phone from his superiors, he allowed some people through. The leaders thought to leave the wall open for a day or so but it was too late. People flooded through both sides of the open wall, dancing with joy. Yes, those walls came down on November 9, 1989!

I recalled the excitement of that day, over ten years ago, as our young family watched on TV, the big news of the falling of the Iron Curtain—it had changed people, culture, history and freedom for decades, starting at the end of World War II. With Berlin divided, many were...

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