GŁnter Schabowski, a spokesperson for the politburo, had the task of announcing this; however he had not been involved in the discussions about the new regulations and had not been fully updated. Shortly before a press conference on 9 November, he was handed a note that said that East Berliners would be allowed to cross the border with proper permission but given no further instructions on how to handle the information. These regulations had only been completed a few hours earlier and were to take effect the following day, so as to allow time to inform the border guards — however, nobody had informed Schabowski. He read the note out loud at the end of the conference. When the Italian journalist Riccardo Ehrman, the Berlin correspondent of ANSA newsagency, asked when the regulations would come into effect, Schabowski assumed it would be the same day based on the wording of the note and replied "As far as I know effective immediately, without delay". After further questions from journalists he confirmed that the regulations included the border crossings towards West Berlin, which he had not mentioned until then.
Walking through Checkpoint Charlie, 10 November 1989Soon afterwards, a West German television channel, ARD, broadcast incomplete information from Schabowski's press conference. A moderator stated: "This ninth of November is a historic day." "East Germany has announced that, starting immediately, its borders are open to everyone."
After hearing the broadcast, East Germans began gathering at the wall, demanding that border guards immediately open its gates. The surprised and overwhelmed guards made many hectic telephone calls to their superiors about the problem, but it became clear that no one among the East German authorities would take personal responsibility for issuing orders to use lethal force, so the vastly outnumbered soldiers had no way to hold back the huge crowd of East German citizens. In face of the growing crowd, the guards finally yielded, opening the checkpoints and allowing people through with little or no identity checking. Ecstatic East Berliners were soon greeted by West Berliners on the other side in a celebratory atmosphere.