6 IN 10 Americans remember where they were when the Berlin Wall fell

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tags: BERLIN WALL



News of the fall of the Berlin Wall had a dramatic impact on American public opinion 25 years ago. Although it was clear that major changes were going on in the Soviet Union even before then, the wall coming down between East and West Berlin drove home in a very dramatic and convincing way to Americans that the communist world was coming undone.

No less than 82% of the public paid close attention to news about the opening of the Berlin Wall between East and West Germany. And as many as 50% paid very close attention to this story, according to an early November 1989 nationwide survey conducted by Gallup/Times Mirror. This is one of the highest levels of closely following a foreign story not directly involving the U.S. in all of the news interest measures taken by Center for the People & the Press before or since.   

The impact of the “Fall of the Wall” on American opinions about the Cold War were as profound as the event was dramatic. At the time, then Gallup vice president Larry Hugick, analyzing a national survey he had conducted, wrote:

“The political and social changes that have taken place so swiftly in Eastern Europe are being embraced by Americans with few reservations. Most see the democracy movement in Poland, Czech, and East Germany continuing for the foreseeable future … and … Americans predict a better life for the people of Eastern Europe and a more peaceful world.”


This was indeed a game changing moment for the public, and they have not forgotten it. Pew Research Center surveys over the years have found as many as six-in-ten Americans, who were ages 8 and older at the time, say they remember where they were or what they were doing when they heard the news about the end of the physical divide between East and West Berlin.




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