Cold War Files: All Units: Events: Hungary opens border with Austria

September 10, 1989
Hungary opens border with Austria

On May 3, 1989, Hungarian soldiers removed the barbed wire fence on the border with Austria. The Hungarian government called the fence "outdated" and superfluous, given the existence of Hungary's new (1988) liberal passport law. The Hungarian government publicly stated that all sections of the fence would be removed by the end of 1990.

East Germans touring Hungary in the summer of 1989 took advantage of the newly opened border to flee to Austria. The Hungarian Border Guard interfered only sporadically with the flight, and eventually the Hungarian government allowed the East Germans to leave through Hungarian border checkpoints. In September 1989, the government announced that it would allow all the East Germans in the country wishing to emigrate to the West to leave Hungary. By the beginning of October, more than 35,000 had left the country to go to West Germany.

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