Fall of the Berlin Wall: Sarkozy was wrong by a week
Sarkozy: I was in Berlin on November 9, 1989
Nicolas Sarkozy did visit Berlin after the fall of the Wall, but on November 16, 1989, and not the same evening, as he claimed on his Facebook page
What he said.
On his Facebook page, the President of the Republic posted a message on Sunday stating that he was in Berlin on the evening of November 9, when of the fall of the Wall. “On the morning of November 9, we are interested in the information which arrives from Berlin, and seems to announce change in the divided capital of Germany. We decide to leave Paris with Alain Juppé to take part in the upcoming event. Arrived in West Berlin, we head for the Brandenburg Gate where an enthusiastic crowd has already gathered at the announcement of the probable opening of the wall. »
Why this is false.
1 – The trip did take place… but on November 16.
In the photo, alongside Nicolas Sarkozy, the former RPR deputy Jean-Jacques de Peretti initially confirmed the president's version to me. "He was in Berlin on November 9, 1989." Problem: an AFP dispatch, dated November 17, 1989 and found by the documentation of Le Monde, evokes a trip by Nicolas Sarkozy, Alain Juppé and Jean-Jacques de Peretti to Berlin on November 16, 1989. Contacted again, Mr. de Peretti, annoyed, confirms that "he has not been to Berlin twice", and that "if the AFP says it was the 16th, it must be true". "I'm going to double-check all that," he said. A date confirmed by two books: a biography of Alain Juppé, The Joker, found by Le Figaro.fr and The temptation of Venice, a book written by Juppé himself, from which Vincent sent me extracts.
2 – The narrative is inconsistent
For many observers at the time (including Liberation journalist Alain Auffray on his blog) but also several French and German Internet users, traveling from West to East in Berlin on the evening of November 9 was not "very easy”, as told by two witnesses of the scene, Jean-Jacques de Peretti and Philippe Martel, then Juppé's chief of staff, and organizer of the trip. However, the versions by Alain Juppé, Philippe Martel and Jean-Jacques de Peretti recount scenes that are more like scenes from November 10 or 11. “I remember a woman from Berlin on a bicycle who was constantly going back and forth between East and West,” says de Peretti. "We went to the East, we could pass, it was not a problem", assures Martel.
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All three tell an anecdote: a conversation with an East German soldier in a hurry to move to the West. But Juppé and Martel ensure that a German family lent them ice axes to destroy the wall. While Peretti rather remembers equipment lent by the head of the RPR in Germany. But a user present in Berlin, Henri Michel, assures that this material only appeared in the city from December 13.
Above all, Sarkozy's version claiming to have attacked the wall from the east side does not hold up: the photo, as several Internet users have pointed out, was obviously taken from the west side. Information confirmed by Jean-Jacques de Peretti.
The latter, like Philippe Martel, also claim to have met Alain Madelin, then UDF deputy for Ile-et-Villaine. However, a video from TF1 at the time, broadcast on LCI.fr, shows Alain Juppé and Nicolas Sarkozy with Alain Madelin on the evening of November 16.
3 – The curious day of Alain Juppé: from Colombey to Berlin in 24 hours?
One of the main flaws in the story comes from Alain Juppé's account of this day. After mentioning the date of November 10 or 11, he then modified his blog to mention “the evening of the 9th, or a few days later”. On Libé Lyon, he evokes November 10. Problem: in his biography The Joker (found by Lefigaro.fr) and in his book The Temptation of Venice, found by Vincent, it is the date of November 16 that is mentioned.
Joined by AFP, the mayor of Bordeaux said he could not remember the exact date.
Above all, Le Figaro found in its archives the presence of the former Prime Minister at the commemoration of the 19th anniversary of the death of General de Gaulle, on the same day. In the morning in Colombey-les-deux-Eglises, in the evening in Berlin? Why not, but the fact that he makes no reference to it in his testimonies at the time is astonishing. Celebrating the general and the fall of the Wall on the same day would surely have marked the memory of a historic Gaullist.
4 – The absence of any reference, in twenty years of political life
I consulted about fifteen biographies of Nicolas Sarkozy, the documentation of Le Monde found nothing in the archives, that of Le Figaro either. Arnaud Leparmentier, who follows the Elysée for Le Monde, has never heard Sarkozy mention this period. Asked about the controversy, the president did not wish to answer.
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