Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft/Frank Ebert


On 4 November 1989, the largest protest rally in the history of East Germany took place on Alexanderplatz. Opposition activists and artists publicly deplored the state of society. Socialist Unity Party (SED) functionaries tried to defend their ruling status, interrupted by a chorus of whistles.

Alexanderplatz was the most important public space in East Germany. The ruling communist SED had surrounded the square with overbearing official architecture. It was a strict security zone, with secret police cameras observing every movement. Any incidents were treated as protest and disruption at the heart of the state.

On 7 July 1989, a small group of opposition activists defied the security measures and gathered on Alexanderplatz, protesting against the recent rigged local elections. The protest was repeated on the seventh day of the following months. On 7 October 1989, one of these regular events was the starting point for the largest demonstration in East Berlin against the SED’s regime since the 1953 people’s uprising. Further protests ensued, for example on 24 October 1989 against the undemocratic installation of party chairman Egon Krenz as the new head of state.

The protests with which the East Germans made themselves heard on Alexanderplatz in the weeks to come and throughout 1990 reflect the democratisation process in East German society and the struggle along the way to German unity.

In the run-up to October 1989, regular demonstrations had been held on Alexanderplatz on the seventh day of most months, recalling the rigged elections of 7 May 1989. On 7 October, thousands of people joined the demonstrators. They marched towards the Palace of the Republic, where the celebrations for the fortieth anniversary of the GDR were going on. Police officers blocked off the building, but the demonstrators’ calls for reform were audible even inside. In the evening, state security forces took brutal action against the protesters, beating them and arresting hundreds of them. Back on Alexanderplatz: the demonstration turned towards Mollstraße.
Quelle: Basis-Druck-Verlag
4 November 1989: Hundreds of thousands of people marched to Alexanderplatz, voicing criticism of the system and calling for a new, democratic society.
Quelle: Archiv Bundesstiftung Aufarbeitung, Fotobestand Klaus Mehner, 89_1104_POL-Demo_27
Major demonstration on Alexanderplatz in East Berlin, 4 November 1989.
Quelle: Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft/Andreas Kämper
Queues outside the Sparkasse bank at Alexanderplatz, Berlin. In May and June 1990 GDR citizens obtained official forms for changing over their savings during monetary union.
Quelle: Rolf Zöllner
In the wake of the newly won right to freedom of expression, the far right was also becoming increasingly vocal, like here on Alexanderplatz in East Berlin on 20 April 1990. Anti-fascist initiatives tried to combat this development.
Quelle: Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft/Matthias Webee
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