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Chronicle 1989

"The Wall … will still be standing in fifty and even a hundred years' time": that's what Erich Honecker is still saying at the end of January 1989. And the GDR does seem stable to most people at the time, even though the dilapidated condition of industrial plants, the old parts of cities and the roads, as well as the air and water pollution, all herald the imminent economic disaster. more
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    • 1989

      1 December

      Sitting of the GDR Volkskammer (East German Parliament). With the votes from the parliamentary party of the SED, the members of parliament delete the leading role of the SED from the GDR constitution. more
    • 1989

      2 December

      The start of a two-day summit between US President Bush and USSR state and Communist Party leader Gorbachev in Malta. The German question becomes the main topic.
    • 1989

      3 December

      Members of the old SED leadership (Harry Tisch, Günter Mittag, Gerhard Müller and Hans Albrecht) are taken into custody in the morning.
    • 1989

      3 December

      Last meeting of the SED Central Committee: in order to dissociate themselves from the old party leadership and in the hope of rescuing their own position, the newly elected First SED District Secretaries, who have no longer been appointed from the top, force the Politburo and Central Committee to resign – along with Egon Krenz as SED General Secretary. more
    • 1989

      4 December

      Mikhail Gorbachev rejects the Ten-Point Programme, telling foreign minister Genscher it is a "diktat".
    • 1989

      4 December

      The end of the State Security (Stasi) is brought closer by the occupation of the buildings used by the district administrations of the Ministry of Security in Erfurt, Suhl and Leipzig.
      Occupation of the State Security headquarters in Leipzig: Improvised press conference with the head of the district authority, Lieutenant General Hummitzsch (centre), 4 December 1989
    • 1989

      5 December

      The GDR chief public prosecutor starts a judicial enquiry against Erich Honecker on charges of "abuse of confidence" and "embezzlement to the serious disadvantage of socialist property." On August 8 1990, further charges are brought: "suspicion of multiple murder" and "deliberate bodily harm in several cases." The enquiry is transferred to the chief public prosecutor at the Berlin Court of Appeal in October 1990.
    • 1989

      5 December

      The SED Betriebskampfgruppen (Eng: combat groups) are disbanded and their weapons taken over by the Volkspolizei (People’s Police).
    • 1989

      5 December

      After negotiations with the West German government, the GDR announces that visa requirements and obligatory currency exchange for Western visitors are to be abolished from January 1, 1990.
    • 1989

      6 December

      Egon Krenz resigns as Chairman of the State Council and the National Defence Council. A session of the National Defence Council called at short notice can no longer take place; this committee, which is in charge of operations at district and regional level and can take over all executive and legislative authority in a state of emergency, is no longer able to negotiate. more
    • 1989

      7 December

      Constitutive meeting of the Central Round Table of the GDR: Wolfgang Berghofer, SED (left), Gregor Gysi, SED (centre) and Wolfgang Schnur, Democratic Awakening (right), 7 December 1989
      The first meeting of the central "Round Table" in East Berlin, attended by the SED, the party bloc, mass organisations and the opposition, calls for new elections, a new constitution and the disbandment of the Ministry of State Security, renamed "Amt für Nationale Sicherheit (AfNS)". more
    • 1989

      8/9 December

      Start of a two-day extraordinary party conference of the SED. A proposed motion to dissolve the SED does not gain a majority. Gregor Gysi becomes the new SED chairman.
    • 1989

      9 December

    • 1989

      11 December

      Once more, there are a large number of so-called "Monday demonstrations" across the entire GDR. The calls for German reunification are stronger in the south than in the north.
    • 1989

      12 December

      The first prisoners are freed as part of the amnesty decided upon by the State Council. The amnesty does not apply in cases of serious crime.
    • 1989

      14 December

      The Modrow government decides to recall Mielke’s successor, Schwanitz, from the cabinet and to dissolve the AfNS owing to continuing protests against the State Security.
    • 1989

      16 December

      Start of the second part of the extraordinary SED party conference. The party rechristens itself SED-PDS (Party of Democratic Socialism; Ger: Partei des Demokratischen Sozialismus).
    • 1989

      19 December

      Meeting of heads of government in Dresden: Kohl speaks at the Altmarkt, 19 December 1989
      West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl is welcomed enthusiastically by the people during a meeting with prime minister Hans Modrow. more
    • 1989

      19 December

      A rally of the SED-PDS is taking place in East Berlin. Speaking at Academy Square, Gregor Gysi calls for the independence of the GDR and speaks out against reunification.


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    • 1989

      20 December

      Pieces of the Wall become worldwide top sellers in the run-up to Christmas.


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    • 1989

      21 December

      GDR defence minister Theodor Hoffmann finally and officially abolishes the order to shoot in his Command 101/89 for the GDR border troops. The command states: "The use of firearms, with the exception of repelling attacks on the lives of the family members of the border troops or other citizens of the GDR, is to be reliably ruled out."
    • 1989

      22 December

      Prime Minister Hans Modrow and West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl open a border crossing directly at the Brandenburg Gate.
    • 1989

      24 December

      Gotha residents welcome West Germans entering East Germany without a visa for the first time, 24 December 1989
      Early start of visa-free travel for West German citizens and West Berliners to the GDR and to East Berlin. more
    • 1989

      31 December

      New Year’s Eve 1989: Unter den Linden
      The first joint German-German New Year’s Eve party at the Brandenburg gate. After the Wall was built in 1961 up to the end of 1989, around 500,000 GDR citizens moved to the FRG with permission, 15,287 were "ransomed" by the West German government, and 460,000 fled.
    • December 1989

      In December, 43,221 GDR citizens move to West Germany.