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Guenter Schabowski, East German official who announced opening of Berlin Wall, dies at 86

  • FILE - The Nov. 8, 1989 file photo shows the chairman of DDR privy council Egon Krenz and Guenther Schabowski, member of politburo, as they talk to demonstrators in front of the SED headquarters in East Berlin. Schabowski, whose cryptic announcement that the communist country was opening its fortified border precipitated the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, has died, his widow Irina Schabowski tells the German news agency dpa. He was 86 and died in a Berlin nursing home on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Klostermeier, file)

    FILE - The Nov. 8, 1989 file photo shows the chairman of DDR privy council Egon Krenz and Guenther Schabowski, member of politburo, as they talk to demonstrators in front of the SED headquarters in East Berlin. Schabowski, whose cryptic announcement that the communist country was opening its fortified border precipitated the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, has died, his widow Irina Schabowski tells the German news agency dpa. He was 86 and died in a Berlin nursing home on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Klostermeier, file)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Aug. 31, 2004 file photo former member of the East German Politburo Guenter Schabowski talks to media in Bernau, near Berlin, Germany. Schabowski, whose cryptic announcement that the communist country was opening its fortified border precipitated the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, has died, his widow Irina Schabowski tells the German news agency dpa. He was 86 and died in a Berlin nursing home on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Sven Kaestner, file)

    FILE - In this Aug. 31, 2004 file photo former member of the East German Politburo Guenter Schabowski talks to media in Bernau, near Berlin, Germany. Schabowski, whose cryptic announcement that the communist country was opening its fortified border precipitated the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, has died, his widow Irina Schabowski tells the German news agency dpa. He was 86 and died in a Berlin nursing home on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Sven Kaestner, file)  (The Associated Press)

Guenter Schabowski, the senior East German official whose cryptic announcement that the communist country was opening its fortified border precipitated the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, has died at 86.

His widow, Irina Schabowski, told the German news agency dpa that he died Sunday in a Berlin nursing home.

Politburo spokesman Schabowski's halting words at the conclusion of a plodding evening news conference on Nov. 9, 1989, put an end to Berlin's 28 years of division. Schabowski offhandedly said East Germany was lifting restrictions on travel across its border with West Germany.

Pressed on when the headline-making regulation would take effect, he looked down at his notes and stammered: "As far as I know, this enters into force ... this is immediately, without delay."