When Mikhail Gorbachev, the former leader of the Soviet Union, launched his policies of glasnost and perestroika, he never anticipated for his fear-based regime to lose its power. A crucial peace demonstration led to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain. This event is known as the Pan-European Picnic, which was held on the Austrian-Hungarian border on August 19, 1989.

The event was organized by the Pan-European Union, in which the rulers of Austria and Hungary agreed to cut down the barbed wire of the border fence for approximately three hours. The event was advertized ahead of time: pamphlets were distributed, inviting East German holiday-makers to a picnic. Once arriving to the picnic, they were given various presents and food before crossing over to the West. A total of 661 gate-crashers eager to escape from the Communist Bloc flooded to cross the border into Austria.

A couple of months later on September 11, 1989, Hungary opened its borders for citizens of the GDR and other Eastern European countries. This marked the beginning of the fall of the Iron Curtain. Only a few months after the opening, 70,000 people fled to the West through Hungary.

Now, with summer approaching, people are starting to dust off their picnic baskets and head to parks and beaches to enjoy the warm sunshine. While the Pan-European Picnic was significant politically, I thought it would be interesting to explore the aspects of more every-day picnics in East Germany.

These are two examples of typical picnic containers that were used to carry necessary dishes, utensils, food, and beverages.

Here is a men’s straw summer hat, which would be a perfect accessory for a picnic in the summer.

Picnic-goers passed the time by eating, drinking, conversing with one another, and sometimes playing card games using cards such as these.

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