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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 August

      According to the draft of a paper presented by the Central Committee Security Issues Department ("Information and Conclusions on Some Current Issues Regarding Hostile Influences on Citizens of the GDR"), GDR security organs have counted 160 "hostile, oppositional groups," including 150 so-called grass-roots church groups, with altogether 2,500 members. The paper says that "around 25 non-permitted printed and duplicated publications with anti-socialist content were produced and distributed, almost always using church-owned or private equipment." more
    • 1989

      5 August

      The GDR government makes its first official statement on the embassy refugees on GDR television, confirming that the exodus constitutes a problem.


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    • 1989

      7 August

      The SED leadership rescinds the so-called "lawyer’s promise". The lawyer Wolfgang Vogel tells the West German Ministry for Inner-German Relations that he can offer those seeking refuge in West German missions impunity when leaving and returning to the GDR, but cannot, as previously, promise them a quick, affirmative decision on their applications to leave the country. more
    • 1989

      8 August

      The West German Permanent Mission in East Berlin, which is being occupied by around 130 GDR citizens, is shut. This is followed on August 14 and 22 by the closures of the embassies in Budapest and Prague, in which, respectively, 171 and 140 would-be emigrants are staying. more
    • 1989

      14 August

      At the handing-over of the first functional models of 32-bit microprocessors by the Erfurt collective combine Mikroelektronik, Erich Honecker says: "Neither ox nor mule can stay socialism’s rule." ("Den Sozialismus in seinem Lauf halt weder Ochs noch Esel auf.")
    • 1989

      19 August

      GDR citizens rush a border gate to Austria in Sopron
      The Hungarian Democratic Forum and other Hungarian opposition groups, under the patronage of the MEP Otto von Habsburg and the Hungarian reformist politician Imre Pozsgay, member of the HSWP Politburo and state minister, have organised a "Pan-European Picnic" at the Hungarian-Austrian border near Sopron to demonstrate for the abolition of borders and a united Europe by symbolically opening a border gate and allowing a "one-off, occasional border crossing". more
    • 1989

      21 August

      Several hundred people are arrested during demonstrations in Prague on the 21st anniversary of the "Prague Spring".
    • 1989

      22 August

      A GDR citizen is shot dead by a Hungarian border guard while trying to escape to Austria.
    • 1989

      23 August

      Hundreds of thousands of people in the Baltic republics of the Soviet Union commemorate their lost independence.
    • 1989

      24 August

      With the assistance of the International Red Cross, over one hundred would-be East German emigrants from the Budapest embassy are flown to West Germany via Austria.
    • 1989

      24 August

      In Poland, the co-founder of the Solidarity movement, Tadeusz Mazowiecki, is elected as the first non-communist prime minister.
    • 1989

      25 August

      In Bonn, the Hungarian prime minister, Miklos Németh, and Foreign Minister Gyula Horn meet secretly at Gymnich Castle with West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Foreign Minister Hans Dietrich Genscher. more
    • 1989

      26 August

      An initiative group including Martin Gutzeit, Markus Meckel, Arndt Noack and Ibrahim Böhme calls for the formation of a social democratic party in the GDR.
    • 1989

      29 August

      At a SED Politburo meeting, perplexity prevails on the question of how to proceed in the refugee crisis. Günter Mittag, who is standing in for a sick Erich Honecker, says: more
    • 1989

      31 August

      GDR citizens wait in a refugee centre run by the "Malteser Hilfsdienst" ambulance service for their exit permit
      The Hungarian foreign minister, Gyula Horn, arrives in East Berlin to talk with GDR Foreign Minister Oskar Fischer and Günter Mittag. more
    • August 1989

      In August, 20,995 GDR citizens manage to flee to the West; 12,812 people are given permission to leave the GDR.
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