Protest against Egon Krenz being installed as chairman of the State Council outside the State Council building in East Berlin, 24 October 1989.
Source: picture-alliance/dpa/Wolfgang Kumm

Revolts along the railway line

Several trains full of East German refugees from Prague had to pass through GDR territory on their way to West Germany, prompting unrest along the railway lines. Thousands of people saw an opportunity to finally leave the country, and attempted to board the trains. The SED's reaction was violent.

Refugee trains in autumn 1989: The East German refugees from the Prague embassy crossing GDR territory to West Germany in special trains.
Source: Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft/Graphik eckedesign
In the autumn of 1989 East Germans began formulating their calls for freedom more and more often in public places. The Stasi photographed these slogans on a railway line near Dresden: “Freedom for all” and “Time’s running out for the GDR”.
Source: Bundesbeauftragter für die Unterlagen des Staatssicherheitsdienstes der ehemaligen DDR
The first trains of East German refugees from Prague crossed the border between East and West Germany on the morning of 1 October 1989.
Source: AP Photo/Helmut Lohmann
Security forces blocking the entrances to Dresden’s main station.
Source: Rigo Pohl
Protests outside Dresden’s main station.
Source: Rigo Pohl
Anger on the streets: overturned police car outside Dresden’s main station, 4 October 1989.
Source: David Adam
Water canons in use outside Dresden’s main station, 4 October 1989.
Source: David Adam
Following the protests at the station, the actors from Dresden’s Staatsschauspiel theatre passed a resolution entitled, “We are stepping out of our roles”. It was first read in public after the performance on 6 October. The audience applauded enthusiastically for several minutes. During the autumn of 1989, reading texts of this kind became a ritual at the theatre.
Source: HL Böhme
In Freiberg, the police used dogs against demonstrators gathered at the station on 4 October 1989. The station forecourt was cleared using violence during the night and demonstrators were arrested.
Source: Jochen Kohlschmidt
Karl-Marx-Stadt’s main station was the site of violent clashes on 4 October 1989. People wanting to leave the country occupied the tracks, including mothers and children.
Source: Volkmar Zschocke
Trains stopped for an hour at Reichenbach station for for the engine to be changed. The police employed batons and dogs against inquisitive observers and travellers.
Source: Bundesbeauftragter für die Unterlagen des Staatssicherheitsdienstes der ehemaligen DDR
Locals in Plauen waiting for the special trains transporting embassy refugees from Prague.

The SED government wanted to expel the East German refugees in Prague officially, and insisted they had to travel through GDR territory. In early October 1989, special trains made their way from Prague to West Germany. At the same time, the GDR closed its border to Czechoslovakia, blocking the route to the West via Prague.

People occupied platforms and stations in Dresden in reaction, and the situation escalated. The militant protest led to a state of emergency at Dresden's main station on 3 and 4 October. The police intervened, resulting in numerous arrests and injuries, which continued in the days that followed.

Blocked in on all sides by state security forces, the demonstrators spontaneously elected a number of representatives on 8 October to de-escalate the heated situation. This "20 Group" eventually managed to start up a dialogue with the SED mayor of Dresden.

During a brief stop, three people jumped onto the special train from Prague, managing to escape to West Germany. Report by the GDR transport police, 1 October 1989.
Source: Federal Commissioner for the Records of the State Security Service of the Former GDR
On 3 October 1989, the GDR government closed the border to Czechoslovakia, cutting off the route the Prague. News item in the SED newspaper Neues Deutschland, 4 October 1989.
Source: Neues Deutschland, 04.10.1989
Letter from a riot police officer to his pastor about his deployment against demonstrators in Dresden at the beginning of October 1989. Military conscripts could be called up for the GDR riot police.
Source: Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft
Following the protests at the station, the actors from Dresden’s Staatsschauspiel theatre passed a resolution entitled, “We are stepping out of our roles”. It was first read in public after the performance on 6 October. The audience applauded enthusiastically for several minutes. During the autumn of 1989, reading texts of this kind became a ritual at the theatre.
Source: Staatsschauspiel Dresden

Video

4.Oktober 1989 in Dresden im Hauptbahnhof

Video

4.Oktober 1989 in Dresden vor dem Hauptbahnhof

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