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Chronicle 1990

  • January

     
    • 1 January

      1990

      Freedom to travel in both directions: as of today, West German citizens can visit the GDR and East Berlin without a visa and without having to exchange money. A German-German foreign-currency travel fund has also been set up; travellers from the GDR can claim up to 200 DM once a year (100 DM at an exchange rate of 1:1 and another 100 DM at an exchange rate of 1:5).
    • 2 January

      1990

      The open border quickly leads to the dissolution of the state monopoly on foreign trade and currency. Shortly after New Year, Peter Voigt, a vegetable retailer from Erfurt, is driving towards Kassel. On the way back, he discovers a wholesale market (EDEKA) in Melsungen and asks if he can buy products in DM to be sold in Erfurt (in DM). more
    • 3 January

      1990

      Berlin border troops stand helplessly by as the "wall-peckers" go at the Wall with hammers and chisels. "No motivation for border service," is the conclusion drawn at a commanders’ conference of GDR border guards. "Soldier asks, 'Why am I needed at the border?’" It is noted that soldiers are selling parts of their uniform while on duty and that officers are accepting presents and are drunk.
    • 3 January

      1990

      In the Berlin district of Treptow, the Soviet memorial is defaced by persons unknown with radical right-wing and anti-Soviet slogans. The SED-PDS uses this as an opportunity to stage a large demonstration against "neo-fascism and anti-Sovietism" that calls for the structures of the Ministry for Security (now called "Office for National Security" (AfNS)) to be preserved as an "internal security service" or "intelligence agency".
    • 3 January

      1990

      Representatives of "Neues Forum" (from l. to r.): Reinhard Schult, Ingrid Köppe, Rolf Henrich during a meeting of the "Central Round Table" in East Berlin, 3 January 1990
      Economy Minister Christa Luft, who is also deputy chairwoman of the Council of Ministers, informs participants in the Round Table about the economic situation of the GDR, but does not reveal the extent of the imminent disaster. Luft says that although Modrow’s government wants to promote other forms of property, it basically intends to keep "the most important means of production as the property of the people".
    • 5 January

      1990

      Citizens’ committees are still occupying former district administration offices of the Ministry for State Security. In Gera, a group of civil rights activists forces its way into the local offices of the Ministry for State Security and takes control of the files and armouries.
    • 5 January

      1990

      The West German Interior Ministry announces that altogether 343,854 GDR residents moved to the Federal Republic in 1989. In addition, West Germany took in 377,055 ethnic German emigrants, mainly from Poland, the Soviet Union and Romania. And the number of asylum seekers reached record levels at 121,318.
    • 8 January

      1990

      Participant in the "Monday Demonstration" in Leipzig, 22 January 1990
      In Leipzig, the first "Monday demonstration" of the year takes place. The scene is dominated by a sea of black-red-gold flags. Along with the slogan "Down with the SED", German unity has become the overriding demand.


      A week later, on 15 January, 150,000 people again demonstrate in support of a united Germany. Meanwhile, municipal infrastructures are breaking down in the city, as they are everywhere else in the country. At the end of January, the mayor is taken into custody on suspicion of election fraud and the city council is dissolved on 26 January; a "round table" helps to administer city affairs.

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    • 9 January

      1990

      In Sofia, a Comecon meeting decides to move member states towards a system of trade on the basis of freely convertible currency. This rings in the end of the Eastern European economic union based on planned economies.
    • 10 January

      1990

      The GDR export company Limex-Bau Export-Import receives a sales monopoly for several dozen segments of the Wall that have been taken down at the newly opened border crossing. Within a very short space of time, business is buzzing worldwide. The company receives up to 500,000 DM per segment; the proceeds are to go to the GDR healthcare sector, as well as be used to preserve historic buildings and monuments.
    • 11 January

      1990

      In a government statement, the chairman of the Council of Ministers, Hans Modrow, announces that "a union of GDR and FRG is not on the agenda." He warns the opposition not to dismantle his government and cites neo-Nazi activities as a reason for having to have agencies for intelligence and internal security. The same evening, 20,000 people demonstrate against this plan.
    • 15 January

      1990

      Demonstrators storm the headquarters of the Ministry for State Security in Lichtenberg, Berlin, 15 January 1990
      Storming of the Ministry for State Security headquarters in East-Berlin: In the afternoon Prime Minister Hans Modrow offers the civil rights groups represented at the "Round Table" the chance to join his coalition government. The deputy head of the secretariat of the Council of Ministers, Manfred Sauer, informs the "Round Table" on the progress in dissolving the Ministry for State Security, now called the "Office for National Security". more
    • 15 January

      1990

      Against the background of this domestic political development in the GDR, West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl decides to start negotiations on a "contractual community" with the GDR only with a freely elected GDR government. He says talks with the Modrow government are to be held, but only symbolically, so that the wave of people moving to West Germany is not made larger by an official refusal to negotiate.
    • 18 January

      1990

      Round Table, Leipzig: the acting council chairman, Superintendent Friedrich Magirius, talks about the desperate economic situation. The dissolution of the State Security organisation is also discussed, 18 January 1990
      On 18 January, the "Round Table" discusses the occupation of Stasi headquarters. Results of the Round Table of the GDR on 18 January 1990 (in German)
    • 19 January

      1990

      In an article entitled "Discharged guard dogs auctioned off," the daily TAZ (Bremen edition) reports that the West German animal welfare association Deutscher Tierschutzbund intends to "resettle" in West Germany some 2,500 guard dogs that were previously deployed on the inner German border. more
    • 20/21 January

      1990

      The SED-PDS party executive rejects demands made by some grassroots members that the party disband itself. As a result, the deputy party chairman, Wolfgang Berghofer, announces his resignation from the party; the SED-PDS, which has already lost half of the 2.3 million members it once had, continues to shrink even further. more
    • 21 January

      1990

      With suitcases in their hands, ten thousand residents of the Eichsfeld region march over the Thuringian-Lower Saxon Worbis-Duderstadt border crossing in a trial run (("Today we’ll be coming back") for several hours to show what will happen if the SED stays in power ("If the SED government stays, we’ll abandon our homeland.")
    • 25 January

      1990

      In East Berlin, the chairman of the Council of Ministers, Hans Modrow, and West German Chancellery Minister Rudolf Seiters prepare for Modrow’s visit to Bonn, planned for 13/14 February. more
    • 26 January

      1990

      In Moscow, Mikhail Gorbachev heads a crisis meeting of experts on the situation in the GDR lasting several hours. There is agreement that the GDR cannot be maintained. The idea of a six-party conference on Germany ("four-plus-two") is approved, as is the preparation of a withdrawal of Soviet armed forces from the GDR.
    • 26 January

      1990

      In the "Wall Street Journal", British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher says that if German unity were to come about too quickly, it would not just endanger Gorbachev’s position, but also threaten the economic balance in the European Community. West German Chancellor Kohl regards the interview as "unusually unfriendly".
    • 27/28 January

      1990

      Congress of the “New Forum” in the Academy of Arts in Berlin, l. to r.: Ingrid Köppe, Reinhard Schult and Sebastian Pflugbeil, 27/28 January 1990
      In a keynote statement at a congress in Berlin, Neues Forum says it sees a two-state situation as its political chance: "The two-state situation in Germany is for us today the chance for democratic self-realisation and for making our own contribution to the democratic development in Germany and Europe."
    • 28 January

      1990

      In East Berlin in the evening, the decision is taken to form a "government of national responsibility" in which all the opposition groups participating in the Round Table are represented by a minister without portfolio. The date for the Volkskammer election is brought forward by mutual agreement from May to 18 March 1990.
    • 29 January

      1990

      The chairman of the Council of Ministers, Hans Modrow, tells the Volkskammer that the economic situation of the GDR is worsening at an alarming rate. He says strikes are becoming more prevalent, a number of regional and local organs of government have disbanded or are not longer quorate, a feeling of insecurity is spreading through the entire state apparatus and the legal system is being increasingly called into question. Speech by GDR premier Hans Modrow in the Volkskammer, 29 January 1990 (in German)
    • 29 January

      1990

      The dust-filtration systems in the briquette factory, built in 1912/13, of the state-owned Lauchhammer brown-coal refinery do not work.
      On 29 January an environmental report by the Modrow government is presented to the Round Table. It judges the ecological situation to be extremely critical. more
    • 29 January

      1990

      In the West German Ministry of Finance, of which Secretary of State Horst Köhler is in charge, the director of the unit responsible for "inner-German relations", Thilo Sarrazin, presents a memorandum with the title "Thoughts on an immediate inclusion of the GDR in the D-mark currency area." more
    • 30/31 January

      1990

      The chairman of the Council of Ministers, Hans Modrow, reports to Mikhail Gorbachev in Moscow about the situation in the GDR and presents his concept of "Germany – united Fatherland", which envisages a gradual rapprochement between the two German states under military neutrality. more
    • January 1990

      The wave of people leaving the GDR continues unabated in January: more than 70,000 people have left the GDR in this month for West Germany. In addition, in the first four weeks of the year, around ten million GDR citizens visited the West and more than eight million West Germans the East.
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