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

WE are the People!

The opposition groups in Leipzig and their non-violent Monday demonstrations provided a template for protest actions across the country. More and more people joined them. On 9 October 1989, tens of thousands demonstrated in Leipzig.

Demonstration on the inner city ring road in Leipzig, 9 October 1989.
Source: Heinz Löster

In the autumn of 1989 people began gathering outside Leipzig's Church of St Nicolas after the Monday prayers for peace, calling for freedom of travel and expression. Despite numerous arrests, there were more and more demonstrators every week. On the evening of 25 September the police blocked off the streets around the church. Some five thousand demonstrators managed to make their way through the blockade to the city's central ring road. The following Monday, their numbers swelled to around twenty thousand.

On Monday, 9 October the atmosphere in Leipzig was extremely tense. Rumours circulated that the demonstration was to be prevented by force. Thousands of security forces were on duty. Nevertheless, the people held firm to their protest. Tens of thousands demonstrated against the political situation in the GDR that evening, demanding democratic change and chanting, "We are the people!" The security forces did not intervene.

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