Removal of Hungary's border fence with Austria

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The removal of Hungary's border fence with Austria in May 1989 was a historic event during the Cold War, directly prior to the revolutionary wave known as the "Autumn of Nations".


On 2 May 1989, the first visible cracks in the Iron Curtain appeared when Hungary began dismantling its 240-kilometre (150 mi) long border fence with Austria.[1] The relatively open border with the West allowed hundreds of East Germans on holiday in Hungary to escape to Austria and then travel safely to West Germany.

The open border infuriated many Soviet Bloc governments, who feared a return to a pre-Berlin Wall day, when thousands of East Germans fled daily to West Berlin. Although worried, the Soviet Union took no overt actions against Hungary, taking a hands-off approach.

The most famous crossing came on 19 August, when, during a "friendship picnic" between Austrians and Hungarians, over 900 East Germans rushed the border and escaped into Austria.[2]

Since 2007, Hungary and Austria have been part of the Schengen Agreement.


  1. ^ Stokes, G (1993), The Walls Came Tumbling Down, Oxford University Press, p. 131 
  2. ^ Woodard, Colin (10 September 2009), "How a picnic led to the fall of the Berlin Wall", Christian Science Monitor .

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