Milestone or massacre? On the morning of 4 November 1989, no one knew that Alexanderplatz would become the site of largest non-state-organised demonstration in the history of the GDR. “I was really quite fearful”, civil rights activist Friedrich Schorlemmer later admitted in an interview with German television network ARD. “First, because I had no idea how many people would turn...Read on
What the world considered impossible just a few months earlier: as the border crossings at the Berlin Wall were opened on 9 November 1989, not only did Germany change overnight, but all of Europe suddenly had a whole new perspective for the future. What led up to this world-changing event that has come to be remembered as a peaceful revolution? In the coming weeks, our MILESTONES project will tell the story of the final months of the German Democratic Republic with anecdotes and stories about the events in 1989 that paved the way to German reunification. We hope you look forward to the exciting stories behind the story!
Wolfgang Schnur was one of the co-founders of the new political party known as Democratic Awakening and he was elected its chair in East Berlin on 29 October 1989. He could feel success within reach: the East German state was disintegrating and all the signs were pointing to change. Schnur, with his experience as a lawyer, was certain he would...Read on
As the politician Erich Honecker entered the meeting room of the East German communist party’s politburo on 17 October 1989, he was in a good mood and had no idea that conspirators had set the trap that would mean the end of his political career. “Erich, it’s not working any more”, Willi Stoph, the chairman of the Council of Ministers,...Read on
On the eve of the celebrations to mark the 40th anniversary of the German Democratic Republic, East German leader Erich Honecker and Stasi chief Erich Mielke walked through what then known as Marx-Engels-Platz. “I wonder if it’ll be full tomorrow?” Honecker asked. And Mielke responded: “Of course.” This story reveals the situation of the East German leadership before the anniversary...Read on
If revolutions are successful and become part of the collective history, it often seems that their success was inevitable. People begin to forget those courageous souls who were at the forefront, risking life and limb while the great majority were still watching passively. Katrin Hattenhauer is one of these people: her first Monday demonstration is one of the key events...Read on