Charles Woff, Jr.
The fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 was one of the "defining moments" of global history in the post-World War II period. It confirmed the collapse of communism in Poland and heralded communism's impending fall in East Germany, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary. It presaged the emergence of democratic leaders and elections in central and Eastern Europe. The fall of the Berlin Wall also reflected the consequences of Mikhail Gorbachev's perestroika, glasnost, and "new thinking." It probably also accelerated the process that formally ended the Communist party's legal monopoly of political power in the Soviet Union and led to the dissolution of the union at the end of 1991.
The remarkable momentum of these pluralizing and democratizing changes brought with them in 1990 the unification of Germany and the reigniting of age-old national and ethnic passions and rivalries within the Soviet Union, the Baltic states, and the twelve