East German officials today opened the Berlin Wall, allowing travel from East to West Berlin. The following day, celebrating Germans began to tear the wall down. One of the ugliest and most infamous symbols of the Cold War was soon reduced to rubble that was quickly snatched up by souvenir hunters. The East German action followed a decision by Hungarian officials a few weeks earlier to open the border between Hungary and Austria. This effectively ended the purpose of the Berlin Wall, since East German citizens could now circumvent it by going through Hungary, into Austria, and thence into West Germany. The decision to open the wall was also a reflection of the immense political changes taking place in East Germany, where the old communist leadership was rapidly losing power and the populace was demanding free elections and movement toward a free market action also had an impact on President George Bush and his advisors. After watching television coverage of the delirious German crowds demolishing the wall, many in the Bush administration became more convinced than ever that Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s statements about desiring a new relationship with the West must be taken more seriously. Unlike 1956 and 1968, when Soviet forces ruthlessly crushed protests in Hungary and Czechoslovakia, respectively, Gorbachev actually encouraged the East German action. As such, the destruction of the Berlin Wall was one of the most significant actions leading to the end of the Cold War.
7. Female models . Several women pointed out to me that GDR models weren’t anorexic waifs or larger-than-life sex bombs but rather average women. There was no East German Kate Moss. In fact, many weren’t professionals at all but hobby models. Leafing through a few old copies of magazines like Für Dich ( For You ) and Modische Maschen ( Fashionable Stitches ) most of the clothes look dowdy and, indeed, the models are everyday women — though, naturally, on the pretty side. They certainly wear less make up and show less skin than those in Vogue . There are no sex tips, but rather an emphasis on work, motherhood, and party politics. For all their libertine body culture, it all strikes me as awfully prude.