Ever heard of the "cold war"? ;) Already going for 50+ years!
Yes, I may have heard of the cold war. Nothing happened. Just some propaganda on both sides against the other and some awesome inventions in the area of weaponry. No concrete steps taken by Americans to actually abolish the the USSR. That started with Reagan.
Do you really think hard core stalinists would have given a fart about some PR stunt on the wall or some protestors on some wharf or what a religious nutter thinks about them who most of them don't gave a **** about religion anyhow? Get real!
At the time the West didn't care either. After all it was the Allies who participated in shaping post WW2 Europe.
No...it needed the change in Moscow to allow all that to happen, it was alone Gorbatschows decision to let it go and not send the military, not Washingtons, not Warsaws, and surely not Berlins.
Of course a change in Moscow was needed and I wouldn't say that Gorby was insignificant in the process of dismantling the USSR. To his credit the process was made fairly peaceful and relatively blood-less. But then, what options did he have at the steer of a wrecked ship? The Soviets only recently were taught a lesson in Afghanistan and the USSR was virtually bankrupt. Eventually they would have had enough trouble within the USSR borders and not need ones outside it. They knew their time was running short. For fuks sake, they were running out of food. How long do you think before they would be able to keep sucking food out of Poland while taking Russians the situation is crappy becaus they have to feed Poles?
The USSR was not in a position to fight the satellites without bloodshed rivaling that during WW2. Even the the staunchest commies realized that.
Of course East Germans were not to be counted on in case or major insurgency. They were too well behaved. But there have always been Poles, Czechs, Hungarians and the Baltics. Could have they lost and be in an even worse situation tthan before insurgency? Sure. But they didn't.
That's why, I think, Merkel thanked Poles and Walesa.