Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft/Frank Ebert

House of Democracy

The end of 1989 and the start of 1990 saw revolutionary conflicts in East Germany, in the form of countless demonstrations and strikes across the entire country. Another site of confrontation was the Central Round Table. Here, dissidents fought with representatives of the communist dictatorship to democratise East German society.

The corner building at Friedrichstraße 165 became a symbol of this struggle, under the name of House of Democracy. In January 1990 grassroots movements such as New Forum, Democracy Now, United Left, the Green League, the Independent Women’s Association and the Initiative for Peace and Human Rights moved into this impressive building. The Round Table had decreed that the previous tenant, the ruling Socialist Unity Party (SED), had to vacate the premises to make room for them.

It was important to establish an independent press to break the SED’s information monopoly. Not far from the House of Democracy, the editorial board of the weekly newspaper die andere began work at Französische Straße 47 in December 1989. Published by the newly founded BasisDruck Verlag, this was New Forum’s official newspaper.

The BasisDruck publishing house caused a sensation with another publication in March 1990. The book Ich liebe euch doch alle. Befehle und Lageberichte des MfS (“But I love you all. Stasi commands and status reports”) was the first publication of documents from the formerly feared East German secret police.

16 March 1990: The book Ich liebe euch doch alle on sale outside the House of Democracy, containing previously secret Stasi documents.
Quelle: ADN/ZB/Altwein
The House of Democracy was well known even outside of Berlin, a symbol of the grassroots protest that put an end to the SED’s rule.
Quelle: Ilona Schäfer
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