Europe 1989: Fall of the Berlin Wall
By the 1980s, the Eastern Bloc had begun to fall dangerously behind the West both economically and technologically. To address these issues, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev introduced economic reforms and opened up Soviet politics. He also sought better relations with the West by declaring an end to Soviet meddling in Eastern Europe. The result was the peaceful dismantling of Communism in Poland and Hungary. East Germany followed suit a few months later, with demonstrators tearing down the hated Berlin Wall.
6 Jun 1982–10 Jun 1985 1982 Lebanon War▲
In response to Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) activity on its northern border, Israel agreed to support the Lebanese Front, dominated by the Maronite Christian Phalange, in exchange for a peace treaty with Lebanon. Israel invaded in June 1982, defeating the PLO and their Syrian allies and advancing as far as Beirut. After US- and Arab-backed negotiations, the PLO agreed to evacuate Lebanon, dissolving the PLO-dominated Lebanese National Movement. However, the assassination of Phalangist President-Elect Bachir Gemayel in September impeded progress toward a peace treaty, and the continued Israeli presence inflamed public sentiment against the Phalange, compelling Israeli forces to withdraw to a buffer zone in the south of the country in 1985.
11 Mar 1985 Mikhail Gorbachev▲
Following the deaths in quick succession of Supreme Leaders Leonid Brezhnev, Yuri Andropov, and Konstantin Chernenko, the Politburo appointed its youngest member, Mikhail Gorbachev, as the new General Secretary.
15 May 1988–15 Feb 1989 Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan▲
Soon after Gorbachev became General Secretary of the Soviet Union, he gained the support of the Politburo in seeking a withdrawal from the war in Afghanistan. In the 1988 Geneva Accords, the Soviets agreed to withdraw immediately, removing their last troops out in February 1989, but continuing political support of the moribund People’s Republic of Afghanistan.
26 Mar–25 May 1989 Soviet legislative election▲
First democratic elections held in the Soviet Union to elect the Congress of People’s Deputies
24 Aug 1989 Tadeusz Mazowiecki of Solidarity appointed Prime Minister of Poland▲
Tadeusz Mazowiecki of Solidarity appointed Prime Minister of Poland
10 Sep 1989 Removal of Hungary’s border fence▲
Hungarian government opens borders with Austria, permitting East Germans to travel to the West
9–10 Nov 1989 Fall of the Berlin Wall▲
After Hungary and Czechoslovakia opened their borders to Austria, allowing tens of thousands of East Germans to escape to the West, the government of East Germany partially opened its border with West Germany. In the confusion over the new regulations, masses of East Germans gathered at the Berlin Wall, overwhelming the guards and demanding to cross to the West. At 10:45 pm on 9 November, the guards relented. The Wall was swamped by celebrating East and West Germans, then torn down over the ensuing days.