Twenty years ago this month, we were on the verge of one of America’s great victories: the fall of the Berlin Wall and ultimately the collapse of communism in Europe, our third liberation of the Continent in the 20th century. By the end of 1989 there was freedom once more in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Romania. Within a year, there was once more a united Germany. Within two years, the Soviet Union was no more.
If Nov. 9, 1989, was the D-Day of the Cold War, it’s true that Americans weren’t the ones breaching East Germany’s defenses. The heroes of that night were the Berliners who finally knocked down the wall after an East German Politburo member mistakenly gave them the green light, as well as the scores of their desperate countrymen who died or were killed while fleeing westward over 28 years.
Yet our country was critical to the survival of liberty in the divided city — from the Berlin Airlift to our soldiers’ fortification of its western precincts, from Kennedy’s