« Et si ? » : Un autre cours de l’Histoire était-il possible en 1989?

NEW YORK – Depuis des semaines, les images passent en boucle sur les télévisions du monde entier, comme si l’événement était d’actualité : des Berlinois en liesse dansant au sommet du tristement célèbre Mur, renversé il y a 20 ans, le 9 novembre 1989. « Die Mauer ist weck ! » criaient les gens en levant les poings au ciel devant les caméras à la porte de Brandebourg. « Le Mur est tombé ! ».

Cette image incarne est sans aucun doute l’un des événements marquants du XXe siècle. Pour les Américains en particulier, cet événement historique en est venu à symboliser leur victoire dans la Guerre froide. Pourtant, si vous étiez présent cette nuit-là, comme je l’étais pour Newsweek, le moment avait une qualité plus ambiguë, en particulier avec un recul de deux décennies. Pour le dire simplement, l’Histoire aurait aisément pu suivre un cours très différent, et c’est d’ailleurs ce qui faillit arriver.

Egon Krenz, le dirigeant du parti communiste de la République démocratique allemande, a par la suite qualifié cet épisode de sabotage. Alors qu’il savourait un rare moment de triomphe, le porte-parole de son parti, Günter Schabowski, est passé dans son bureau l’après-midi du 9 novembre en lui demandant innocemment  : « Rien à annoncer ? ». Après un moment d’hésitation, Krenz lui tendit un communiqué de presse, à propos d’une décision qu’il était parvenue à faire adopter quelques heures auparavant par le Parlement et que des centaines de milliers de manifestants réclamaient depuis des semaines : le droit de voyager librement. Krenz avait bien l’intention de leur accorder ce droit – mais seulement le jour suivant, le 10 novembre.

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