"Wall peckers" in Berlin, 10 November 1989. People started tearing down the Berlin Wall on their own. Official demolition began at Potsdamer Platz in November 1989, and continued from 20 February 1990 between the Brandenburg Gate and the border post at Checkpoint Charlie.
Source: Bundesregierung/Uwe Rau

Civil rights activity and social self-organisation

There were many different forms of civil rights activities and self-organisation. In February 1990 a Third World Shop opened in Winsstraße in Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg district. Around one million people tried to start or expand companies up until the end of 1990. Opportunities were good for people whose previously confiscated business was handed back by restitution, or who had been able to keep their firm in private ownership over the decades in the GDR.
Source: Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft/Vinia Rutkowski
The cultural sector in the GDR was state-controlled. In 1989 arts enthusiasts from the alternative scene in Prenzlauer Berg took advantage of the new freedom to occupy rooms in an apartment house. On New Year's Eve they opened the private gallery ACUD.
Source: Claudia Wasow-Kania
Private initiative: from his living room in Gethsemanestraße in Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg district, Christoph Links launched one of the first private publishing houses in the GDR in December 1989. Ch. Links Verlag officially became a private limited company on 5 January 1990.
Source: Ulrich Burchert
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.
Source: Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft/Matthias Webee
Future nature park: view of the former border zone in the Schalsee area in Mecklenburg, spring 1990. Dedicated environmental campaigners and representatives of the last GDR government managed to anchor a national parks programme in the Unification Treaty, despite very little time for preparation.
Source: Lebrecht Jeschke
Protest in January 1990 outside the waste disposal site in Vorketzin, where West Berlin’s hazardous waste was taken. Many action groups demanded a completely new concept for waste and other steps to protect the badly polluted environment.
Source: Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft/Rolf Walter
Sebastian Pflugbeil from New Forum, a minister without portfolio in the Modrow government, visited the Greifswald nuclear power plant in February 1990. He played a key role in shutting down the fault-prone plant, causing great hostility towards him among the workers.
Source: Ostseezeitung Rostock/Treder
Young people from East and West squatted empty houses to protest against vacant property and urban decay in East Germany's larger cities. The squatters were evicted from the street in November, provoking violent incidents over several days.
In autumn 1989 there was an explosion of civil rights activity in the GDR. People campaigned for their interests and set up associations and civil rights groups. A pamphlet published in 1990 presented numerous groups in which members of civil rights movements were active.
Source: Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft
A special edition of Berliner Zeitung from March 1990 reported on the activities of working groups of the Central Round Table and local round tables.
Source: Sonderausgabe der Berliner Zeitung: „Runde Tische“, März 1990
In the GDR, the city of Chemnitz had been renamed Karl-Marx-Stadt. An action group was set up to reverse the change in late November 1989, and collected 43,000 signatures as the basis for a referendum. In April 1990, 76% voted for the name Chemnitz. Many people in the GDR began to discover the history of their towns and regions, forming a new identity.
Source: Stiftung Haus der Geschichte der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Zeitgeschichtliches Forum Leipzig
The issue of abortion accompanied the Unification Treaty negotiations. To prevent the restriction of abortion rights, groups like the Independent Women's Union demonstrated for the retention of the legal time limit that had applied in the GDR since 1974.
Source: Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft/Plakatsammlung
In factories and workshops there were arguments about the most effective form of employee representation during 1990. The debate was about whether to renew trade-union representation along West German lines or introduce works councils, a popular idea in many places. Printer’s copy for a United Left poster, 1990.
Source: Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft/Plakatsammlung
Special edition of the Deutsche Lehrerzeitung (“German Teachers’ Newspaper”), 1990. For forty years, pupils in the GDR were expected to run with the pack and conform. Critical spirit was discouraged. Now teachers started developing ideas for new school models. The Leipzig-based initiative organised various events and collected signatures for the “Leipzig Declaration for Freedom in the Education System”.
Source: Schulmuseum-Werkstatt für Schulgeschichte Leipzig
Many members of the Green League – Ecological Movements Network had already been actively involved in environmental issues in the 1980s, despite state obstruction. After the league was set up in February 1990 it was given a seat and voting rights at the Central Round Table in Berlin.
Source: Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft/Plakatsammlung
Accidents had occurred repeatedly in the GDR's biggest nuclear power station, in Greifswald, but the SED leaders had hushed them up. In 1990, after the plant's bad record became known, environmental groups and the civil rights movement achieved its phased closure. The Greifswald plant was finally shut down in 1995.
Source: DER SPIEGEL, 29.01.1990
Position paper from the Citizen’s Initiative for the Health and Social System, Karl-Marx-Stadt, proposing immediate measures for improving and introducing democracy in this area.
Source: Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft
Protest letter to the SED mayor of Leipzig, criticising the failure of the city administration to take up offers of help from West German paediatricians. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, many East German cities and localities received financial and material aid, personnel and organisational support from the West.
Source: Archiv Bürgerbewegung Leipzig
Hinrich Lehmann-Grube was the senior town clerk of Hanover, which was Leipzig's partner city from 1987 on. In April 1990 he took on GDR citizenship to be able to stand as an SPD candidate in the local elections in May. He was elected mayor of Leipzig in June, and remained in office until 1998.
Source: Stiftung Haus der Geschichte, Zeitgeschichtliches Forum Leipzig
After discussions between the state government of North Rhine-Westphalia and Leipzig district Round Table in January 1990, the West Germans promised concrete support in the fields of environment protection, energy, transport, housing, economics, health and education.
Source: Archiv Bürgerbewegung Leipzig

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Christoph Links - Verlagsgründung

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