Wednesday, August 19, 2009

This Day in History

August 19, 1958: My mother was born

Happy birthday Mom.

August 19, 1989: Pan-European Picnic

I had always heard about this when I lived in Sopron. The legend still lives on and the story is openly shared by proud Hungarians, but I never understood how important the event was to the fall of Communism in the Eastern Bloc.

Hundreds of Hungarians and East Germans gathered at the Hungarian-Austrian border to take advantage of the short time the border gate would be open. Somewhat taking the border guard by surprise (but not really, read more here) the people escaped from Communist to political sanctuary in Austria. What made the escape peaceful was the border guard's decision to not deter the citizens from leaving.

The Pan-European Picnic was one of the many events that marked the fall of Communist power in Eastern Europe. By September 11th of that same year, the border in Hungary was permanently opened.

Since living in Sopron, I've learned that there are many reasons the town's citizens are a proud people. This is just one more feather in their cap.

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