Demonstration by the Polish trade union Solidarnosc in the pilgrimage city of Tschenstochau (Poland). The illegal trade union Solidarnosc grew into a mass movement that could no longer be stopped.
Source: AP Photo

Never enough electoral fraud

Ever since the installation of the communist dictatorship, free elections had been one of its opponents' central demands. There were no free elections in the GDR and no competition between political parties. The "leading role" of the Socialist Unity Party (SED) was anchored in the constitution. All the candidates for the government and parliament were placed on a single list. When casting their ballot, voters could only approve or reject this list as a whole. According to official statistics, around 99 percent of voters generally opted for the candidates on the list. Although the politicians on the "united list", as it was called, were actually elected by an overwhelming majority, many people suspected electoral fraud.

Protest by a resistance group in Eisenberg (Thuringia). The group produced several handwritten posters calling people to vote “no” at the People’s Chamber elections in October 1954. The members of the Eisenberger circle, most of them still at school, were sentenced to long penitentiary terms in 1958.
Source: Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft/BStU-Kopie
Graffiti in Berlin-Pankow, October 1976: “Don’t vote”. The Stasi mounted a search for the perpetrators, as this slogan was regarded as subversive and punishable by imprisonment. Large parts of the population were aware that there were no free elections in East Germany and the GDR government was not democratically legitimated.
Source: Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft/BStU-Kopie
Opposition activists from East Berlin distributed a flyer setting out their criticism of the GDR’s electoral system in June 1986. Hardly any voters were familiar with the government-backed candidates on the single list. It was not possible to vote for candidates separately; voters could only decide for or against the list as a whole.
Source: Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft

Local elections in 1989

Opposition activists wanted to prove this fraud at the local elections on 7 May 1989, by monitoring the ballot count. They prepared for this task for weeks and were able to make spot checks on the count. They compared this to the official final results, and proved that the authorities had manipulated the figures. The officially announced election results had been rigged. The elections at the heart of the GDR's official democracy were no more than a façade.

Polling station in the East Berlin district of Prenzlauer Berg, 7 May 1989. Civil rights activists monitored the counting of the ballot papers in several locations at the 1989 local elections and discovered considerable discrepancies to the officially announced results.
Source: Archiv Bundesstiftung Aufarbeitung, Bestand Klaus Mehner, Nr. 89_0507_POL_Wahlen_05
Few people dared to voice protest at this point: demonstration outside East Berlin’s St Sophie’s Church, 7 June 1989. The banner reads: “Never enough election fraud”. The proven ballot rigging enraged many people. From this point on, a demonstration was held on Alexanderplatz on the seventh day of every month.
Source: Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft/Hans-Jürgen Röder
The Weißensee Peace Circle was the main initiator of the election monitoring campaign in East Berlin. Those who wanted to take part in the ballot counts in the polling stations were carefully prepared for the task in advance. Members of the Peace Circle: Ralf Sköries, Evelyn Zupke, Beate Pankow, Gunther Seifert, Klaus Kupler, Frank Pfeifer (l.-r.).
Source: Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft/Siegbert Schefke
The Weißensee Peace Circle was the main initiator of the election monitoring campaign in East Berlin. Those who wanted to take part in the ballot counts in the polling stations were carefully prepared for the task in advance.
Source: Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft
Opposition activists monitored the ballot count in many East German towns and cities after the local election of 7 May 1989. They compiled lists of the counts from the individual polling stations and compared them to the official results. The discrepancies between the figures were evidence of the election fraud. The East Berlin Environmental Library proved the fraud in the documentation Wahlfall 89 (“Election Case 89”). The election fraud became the starting point for the demand made by the East Germans in the months to come: for new, free and democratic elections.
Source: Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft
Opposition activists monitored the ballot count in many East German towns and cities after the local election of 7 May 1989. They compiled lists of the counts from the individual polling stations and compared them to the official results. The discrepancies between the figures were evidence of the election fraud. The East Berlin Environmental Library proved the fraud in the documentation Wahlfall 89 (“Election Case 89”). The election fraud became the starting point for the demand made by the East Germans in the months to come: for new, free and democratic elections.
Source: Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft
Opposition activists monitored the ballot count in many East German towns and cities after the local election of 7 May 1989. They compiled lists of the counts from the individual polling stations and compared them to the official results. The discrepancies between the figures were evidence of the election fraud. The East Berlin Environmental Library proved the fraud in the documentation Wahlfall 89 (“Election Case 89”). The election fraud became the starting point for the demand made by the East Germans in the months to come: for new, free and democratic elections.
Source: Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft
Opposition activists monitored the ballot count in many East German towns and cities after the local election of 7 May 1989. They compiled lists of the counts from the individual polling stations and compared them to the official results. The discrepancies between the figures were evidence of the election fraud. The East Berlin Environmental Library proved the fraud in the documentation Wahlfall 89 (“Election Case 89”). The election fraud became the starting point for the demand made by the East Germans in the months to come: for new, free and democratic elections.
Source: Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft
Opposition activists monitored the ballot count in many East German towns and cities after the local election of 7 May 1989. They compiled lists of the counts from the individual polling stations and compared them to the official results. The discrepancies between the figures were evidence of the election fraud. The East Berlin Environmental Library proved the fraud in the documentation Wahlfall 89 (“Election Case 89”). The election fraud became the starting point for the demand made by the East Germans in the months to come: for new, free and democratic elections.
Opposition activists monitored the ballot count in many East German towns and cities after the local election of 7 May 1989. They compiled lists of the counts from the individual polling stations and compared them to the official results. The discrepancies between the figures were evidence of the election fraud. The East Berlin Environmental Library proved the fraud in the documentation Wahlfall 89 (“Election Case 89”). The election fraud became the starting point for the demand made by the East Germans in the months to come: for new, free and democratic elections.
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