Rolf Zöllner

Dietrich Bonhoeffer House

After the fall of the Wall in November 1989, the situation in East Germany became even more instable. The ruling Socialist Unity Party and its allied parties and mass organisations did not give up their power voluntarily. The result was a rise in demonstrations and strikes around the country. The opposition forced the state party into negotiations, initiating the Central Round Table, which brought together representatives of the government and the illegal opposition. The most important task they set themselves was preparing for free and democratic elections.

The Central Round Table first met at Dietrich Bonhoeffer House on 7 December 1989. It was modelled on its equivalent in Poland, where the opposition trade union Solidarnosc had used a Round Table as a negotiating instrument with the communist government early in 1989. The East German talks were chaired by representatives of the Church. The first three meetings in Bonhoeffer House were followed by thirteen more in Schoenhausen Palace, up to 12 March 1990.

Numerous Round Tables across the country sprung up following the example in East Berlin. They were a key part of the democratisation process of East German society. The talks at the Central Round Table led to the only free and democratic election for the GDR parliament on 18 March 1990. 

7 December 1989: Central Round Table at Dietrich Bonhoeffer House, with the opposition representatives on the right.
Quelle: Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft/Rolf Walter
There was great public interest in the tough negotiations around the Central Round Table.
Quelle: Rolf Zöllner
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