Both Germanys continued to develop along divergent paths, earning prestige and envy for their many achievements. By the late 80s, DDR officials were proudly proclaiming that East German living standards had surpassed those of Britain. Many observers, in both East and West, seemed convinced that the Communists had in fact achieved a fairly successful society which, if not quite a match for their cousins across the border, at least offered true stability and a sense of identification.
Early in 1989, Erich Honecker, leader of the DDR and ideological architect of the Berlin Wall, gave a speech in front of his concrete pride and joy in which he confidently declared that the Wall would stand for another hundred years. At that point, few on either side would argue with him. But events proved Honecker and his believers to be roughly 99 years off.