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ON THIS DAY

22 December 1989: Brandenburg Gate re-opens. Berlin’s most famous landmark the Brandenburg Gate has been opened for the first time in almost three decades. Thousands of people spilled on to the city’s streets cheering in the pouring rain to watch the historic ceremony which effectively ends the division of East and West Germany. East German army engineers worked through the night to tunnel through one of two crossing points in the gate, which stands in the “no man’s land” on the eastern side of the Berlin Wall. West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl walked through to be greeted by Hans Modrow, the East German Prime Minister. Both leaders, flanked by their mayors, shook hands in a moment which signalled the first time a West German leader has officially entered East Berlin. Delighted crowds popped bottles of champagne, hugged and kissed and waved flags of a united Germany. Within minutes the gates had opened and thousands of people flooded through from either side of the city. Hundreds more scrambled on to the top of the wall in jubilation chanting “Deutschland”, “Deutschland”. Mr Modrow made an impassioned speech before an audience of millions, broadcast live on television to East and West Germans. He first paid tribute to Romanians where dictator Nicolae Ceausescu has been overthrown. “The Brandenburg Gate is not just one of many,” he said. “The burning stench of war must never be smelled here. It must be a gate of peace.” His words were almost drowned out by cheers of “Helmut!”,”Helmut!” Dr Kohl responded to the people by declaring it the “most important moment of my life”. The decision to open the gate was taken on Tuesday in Dresden by Dr Kohl and Mr Modrow during their first meeting. The 200-year-old gate was built as a monument to Prussian power and it embodied German unity until Hitler’s defeat at the end of the Second World War. It subsequently became one of the most potent symbols of Cold War division of Germany and of Europe. (Source: BBC)

23 December 1956: Jubilation as allied troops leave Suez. Crowds of Egyptians have poured onto the streets of Port Said to celebrate the withdrawal of British and French forces from Egyptian soil. Yesterday’s troop departure follows pressure from the United Nations and United States to end the armed occupation of the region which followed President Abdel Nasser’s nationalisation of the Suez Canal. The demonstrations reached a peak this afternoon when a small detachment of the Egyptian Army marched into Port Said greeted by well-wishers waving the national flag and pictures of President Abdel Nasser. Shouting “Long Live Nasser” and “Down with [British prime minister] Eden and [French PM] Mollet”, demonstrators burned British and French flags. King Hussein of Jordan has sent a message to President Nasser praising the “heroism” of the people of Port Said. Allied forces completed their withdrawal by sunset yesterday to be replaced by a United Nations Emergency Force that has already handed over security responsibility to the Egyptian police. The next tasks for the UN force are: to complete clearance of the Suez Canal still blocked by wrecked ships, to oversee withdrawal by Israel of the Sinai and the Gaza Strip, to repair broken oil pipelines and to set up a peacekeeping force on the Egyptian-Israeli border.
Although the French and British have bowed to US and UN pressure to abandon control of the Suez region, the military operation has strengthened the “entente cordiale” between France and Britain. Speaking on BBC Radio, General Sir Charles Keightley, allied commander in chief, paid tribute to the spirit of his forces against stubborn fighting. He stressed the “very close co-operation” between the three services and two nations’ forces, and the “most spectacular” work done by the British and French Navies in clearing the canal so far. The British withdrawal began yesterday at 1700 local time when The First Battalion The West Yorkshire Regiment and two companies of the Royal Scots move

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