Guenter Schabowski, former East German Politburo member, is seen before a meeting with Christian Democratic Union (CDU) top candidate for Berlin mayor Frank Steffel, in Berlin, Germany in this August 9, 2001 file picture. REUTERS/Staff/Files
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Guenter Schabowski, the senior East German official whose cryptic announcement that the communist country was opening its fortified border precipitated the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, died Sunday at 86 .East German leader Egon Krenz later insisted he told Schabowski to tell reporters to withhold news of the new travel regulation until 4 a.m. the next morning, so citizens could line up properly to get exit visas.Schabowski, a trained journalist, said he never heard Krenz say that and it would have been unrealistic anyway.Schabowski later became one of the most senior East German leaders to be convicted of manslaughter and jailed for the shooting deaths of East Germans trying to flee to the West.
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