Berlin Witness: An American Diplomat's Chronicle of East Germany's Revolution

Synopsis

In a remarkable combination of personal reflections, official dispatches, and sophisticated political analysis, Berlin Witness recounts the dramatic story of the erosion of communism in East Germany and the forging of the new united Germany. Jonathan Greenwald arrived in East Berlin in the summer of 1987, when discontented East German youths were shouting "Gorby, Gorby!" on Unter den Linden and Erich Honecker was still received in Bonn as the respected leader of the Soviet Union's most powerful ally. Germany was divided, and Honecker's GDR was a cornerstone of the armed but apparently stable security order that grew up after the Second World War. As Political Counselor of the American Embassy, Greenwald expected to chronicle Europe's evolution away from East-West confrontation and to assess for the State Department the implications of strengthening ties between the two German states that were beginning to cause unease in the alliances of both superpowers. Instead, he found and described a revolution that climaxed with the fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of the Soviet Empire, and the unification of Germany. The daily entries, beginning with a traditional Communist May Day 1989 when time seemed to stand still, tell the story of that astonishing year from the unique perspective of a senior American diplomat. Greenwald had access not only to the leading personalities of the GDR including Honecker, Egon Krenz, and Gregor Gysi, but also to the idealistic young people and churchmen who set in motion the events that astonished the world and changed all our lives. He participated in the often frustrating efforts to shape an American policy response to the accelerating crisis. In hisafterword, he offers insightful, and sometimes skeptical observations about the rush to unification that has left Germany whole and free but racked by new tensions and self-doubts. Provocative and personal, Berlin Witness is likel