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October 3, 1989 – The scene at the German Embassy in Prague was chaotic. The flood gates had opened as thousands of East Germans streamed into the West German Embassy compound, many carrying just the clothes on their backs, all of them seeking asylum in West Germany, now that the travel ban from East to West was lifted. West German diplomats, fearful that the sanitation and overcrowding would only add to the chaos, closed the gates of the Embassy to the more than 5,000 crowding outside. That didn’t seem to stop anyone, as fences were being scaled and East Germans were hurling themselves over just to get into the compound. West German Red Cross officials said they could no longer accommodate any more refugees, but that didn’t stop the wave nor the thousands more seeking asylum.
Moscow wasn’t happy – lashing out at West German authorities via Pravda, the Soviets warned that West Germany was threatening European stability by allowing the continuing flow of refugees through its embassies in Prague and Warsaw. Moscow denounced West Germany for using their embassies in this way. This coming, despite Soviet Foreign minister Shevardnadze helping strike the deal to allow freedom for the refugees in the embassies over the weekend. Moscow was, in reality showing tacit acceptance over the changes taking place in the Warsaw Pact countries. It was unclear if this latest Pravda attack was an attempt at defending its old friend East Germany or if it signaled a shift to a more hardline reaction to unsettling changes unfolding in Eastern Europe.
Meanwhile, the trials and tribulations of Mikhail Gorbachev continued. He was scheduled to visit East Germany later on in the week. Leipzig staged a demonstration where more than 10,000 showed up, chanting “Gorby-Gorby” while demanding Soviet-style reforms. It was the largest protest held in East Germany since 1953. After an all-night meeting, Soviet lawmakers rejected as unconstitutional Gorbachev’s proposal to ban strikes for fifteen months. They did however, give him new powers to break the rail blockade of Armenia.
Poland’s Communists, who have taken a backseat to Solidarity have voted overwhelmingly to transform their party. They were set to devise a new program, new rules and even a new name.
And that’s only a small slice of what went on, this rather fast-changing October 3, 1989 as presented by The CBS World News Roundup.