Demonstration by the Polish trade union Solidarnosc in the pilgrimage city of Tschenstochau (Poland). The illegal trade union Solidarnosc grew into a mass movement that could no longer be stopped.
источник: AP Photo

The Battle of Zion

Эта статья еще не переведена русский.

In the night of 24 November 1987, the Stasi and a public prosecutor broke into the premises of the East Berlin Zion Church. They were hoping to catch staff from the Environmental Library, which was based there, printing the illegal magazine grenzfall (“Borderline Case/Fall of the Border”). But the staff were actually printing the semi-legal Umweltblätter (“Environment Letters”), a church newsletter that the state was forced to tolerate. Although the secret police had no evidence of a crime, they still confiscated the machines and arrested all those present.

The GDR government had underestimated the opposition networks, however. They published a joint protest letter the very next morning, which went all around the world via the West German media. Western politicians demanded the prisoners’ release. Public intercession prayers and solidarity campaigns for them were held across the GDR, with a vigil set up in the Zion Church in East Berlin. The widespread protests were a success; in the face of the huge public pressure the prisoners had to be released. This was the SED’s greatest defeat against the opposition before the end of the East German state.

Members of the Environmental Library, photographed by the Stasi on the night of their arrest, 24-25 November 1987, during a search of the premises. Bodo Wolff, Till Böttcher, Bert Schlegel, Wolfgang Rüddenklau, Tim Eisenlohr (l.-r.).
источник: Bundesbeauftragte für die Unterlagen des Staatssicherheitsdienstes der ehemaligen DDR
On the morning of 27 November 1987 participants in the vigil hung a highly visible banner on the tower of Zion Church, demanding the release of the arrested members of the Environmental Library. The police and public prosecutor’s office called the fire brigade to remove the banner.
источник: Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft/Siegbert Schefke
Stasi operatives openly filming visitors to the vigil, November 1987. Although the aim of the Stasi’s film documentation and personal presence was to intimidate the supporters, the number of participants and visitors continued to grow.
источник: Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft/Siegbert Schefke
Friends of the GDR opposition in West Berlin informed the press, and all the West German media reported on the arrests. To the annoyance of the GDR government, which was very concerned over its international image, politicians from around the world demanded the prisoners’ release. The West Berlin newspaper B.Z., 26 November 1987: “Midnight Raid on Church”.
источник: BZ, 26.11.1987
The East German government was surprised by a wave of protest from around the world, and gradually released the prisoners. The members of the East Berlin Environmental Library Andreas Kalk (l.) and Till Böttcher (r.) were among the first to be released, one day after their arrest.
источник: Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft/Siegbert Schefke
Wolfgang Rüddenklau, a member of the Environmental Library, shortly after his release on 28 November 1987. He was the last of those arrested to leave Stasi imprisonment.
источник: Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft/Ann-Christine Jansson
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