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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

      4 September

      Following the regular Monday prayer for peace in the Nikolaikirche in Leipzig, there is a demonstration by around 1,200 people. Demonstrators express their desire to be able to leave the country freely by chanting "We want out!" and demand to be allowed to travel to the West.
    • 1989

      4 September

      In Böhlen, representatives of a socialist opposition group meet and formulate an appeal "for a united left wing in the GDR," which argues in favour of radical socialist reform and sees the best economic and political conditions for such a reform in East Germany and the CSSR.
    • 1989

      8 September

      Persuaded by assurances from the GDR lawyer Vogel, all East German citizens leave the West German Permanent Mission in East Berlin. It is then shut to visitors. more
    • 1989

      9 September

      The West German news programme "Tagesschau" reports that East German refugees are about to leave Hungary for the West.


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    • 1989

      10 September

    • 1989

      11 September

      Another prayer for peace in the Nikolaikirche in Leipzig; the Volkspolizei closes off the church yard to prevent a demonstration. Numerous people are arrested.
    • 1989

      12 September

      At the Tuesday Politburo meeting, Günter Mittag, standing in for an ill Honecker, brings up the question of how "to close the hole in Hungary" as the most important issue, as the number of applications for travel to Hungary has risen steeply all over the GDR. more
    • 1989

      12 September

      At the invitation of the German Confederation of Trade Unions (DGB), the chairman of the Free German Trade Union Federation (FDGB), Harry Tisch, arrives in West Germany. When asked by journalists about the flood of refugees from the GDR, he angrily demands, among other things, that the "mud fight" stop.


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    • 1989

      14 September

      In Bonn, the Erfurt pastor Edelbert Richter announces the founding of the GDR opposition group "Demokratischer Aufbruch" (Democratic Awakening), which champions a "socialist social order on a democratic basis" and speaks out in favour of human rights, freedom to travel, freedom of expression, of the press and of assembly, and free elections in the GDR.
    • 1989

      14 September

      The West Berlin Senate discusses the growing number of East German refugees and how to put them up. It decides that everything possible should be done to organise emergency accommodation.


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    • 1989

      18 September

      Leipzig, 18 September 1989: People in front of the cordon of People’s Police
      Hundreds of demonstrators take to the streets in Leipzig after the prayer for peace in the Nikolaikirche: they chant "We’re staying here!" and not "We want out!" as in previous weeks. Numerous demonstrators are arrested. more
    • 1989

      19 September

      The group "Neues Forum," which has made a public founding statement on September 10, applies to be officially registered as a citizens’ association. Two days later, the Interior Ministry rejects the application, saying that the Neues Forum was a "subversive platform". Three thousand people have so far signed the statement by the Neues Forum. Founding statement of the Neues Forum from 10 September 1989 (in German)
    • 1989

      19 September

      The synod of the Federation of Protestant Churches (Evangelischer Kirchenbund) passes a resolution in Eisenach in which it calls for a pluralist media policy, a democratic diversity of parties, freedom to travel for all citizens, economic reforms and freedom to demonstrate, describing all these things as "long overdue reforms".
    • 1989

      20 September

      The West German embassy in Warsaw has to be closed because of overcrowding.
    • 1989

      20 September

      The Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union issues a statement on nationalities policy, in which republics are promised economic independence.
    • 1989

      22 September

      Erich Honecker, firmly resolved to put a swift end to all demonstrations and "provocations," sends a telex to the First Secretaries of the SED district administrations, telling them "that these hostile actions must be nipped in the bud, that no mass basis for them is allowed." They are also to make sure "that the organisers of the counterrevolutionary activity are isolated."
    • 1989

      24 September

      The West German embassy in Prague becomes a meeting place for GDR refugees, because the CSSR has tightened checks on its border to Hungary.
    • 1989

      25 September

      At the “Monday demonstration” in Leipzig, 5,000 to 8,000 demonstrators call for democratic reforms and official recognition of the Neues Forum movement. Those wanting to leave the GDR have now become a minority among the demonstrators.
    • 1989

      26 September

      The deputy Stasi minister, Rudolf Mittig, calls together the deputy leaders of the district administrations of the Ministry of Security and gives them the watchword to "operatively work on" the "hostile, oppositional alliances" with the aim of destroying them. more
    • 1989

      26 September

      SED General Secretary Erich Honecker orders the "Bezirkseinsatzleitung Berlin" ("Berlin District Operational Command") and the various "Kreiseinsatzleitungen" ("Operational Commands") of the Berlin districts to be ready to take command to "ensure security and order" and "to prevent provocations of various sorts" for the 40th anniversary of the GDR. more
    • 1989

      27 September

      The CSSR government says that there will be no Hungarian solution for the now more than 900 people occupying the Prague embassy.
    • 1989

      29 September

      Union members from VEB Bergmann-Borsig, a large Berlin company, express their outrage to the FDGB chairman and Politburo member Harry Tisch "for depicting the desertion by so many of our people as being the result of machinations on the part of the class enemy, where these GDR citizens are supposedly mere victims or pawns." more
    • 1989

      30 September

      The GDR yields to Soviet pressure in the Prague embassy conflict: West German Foreign Minister Genscher and Chancellery Minister Seiter travel to Prague and announce that the people occupying the embassy can leave the country. Several thousand East German refugees are taken to West Germany via GDR territory in special sealed trains.


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      Letter from Oskar Fischer to Erich Honecker, 29 September 1989 (in German)
    • September 1989

      In September, 33255 GDR citizens manage to flee to the West; 11903 are given permission to leave the GDR.
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