Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft/Frank Ebert


Power in the GDR (German Democratic Republic) was concentrated in the area around Schlossplatz (named Marx-Engels-Platz from 1951 to 1994). The Central Committee of the communist state party SED (Socialist Unity Party), which was the actual center of operations, was based at Werderscher Markt 1. The adjacent building was occupied by the State Council. By the side of the River Spree in the Palace of the Republic, the People’s Chamber – a feigned parliament with no actual powers – held its sessions since 1976. 

On 7 October 1989, outraged people marched spontaneously to the Palace of the Republic, where the state and party leaders were celebrating the 40th anniversary of the GDR. A few weeks later on 24 October, thousands of East Berliners assembled in front of the State Council building to protest against the new state and party leader Egon Krenz. People were no longer satisfied with a mere change of leadership; mass protests all over the country had transformed the GDR. 

On1 December, under pressure from the revolution, the People’s chamber removed the SED’s claim to leadership from the GDR constitution. After the elections of 18 March 1990 the last People’s Chamber – the only democratically legitimated one – convened in the Palace of the Republic . It was here that the People’s Chamber voted for the GDR to join the Federal Republic of Germany. The reunification treaty was signed in the nearby Kronprinzenpalais on 31 August 1990. 

In the run-up to October 1989, regular demonstrations had been held on Alexanderplatz on the seventh day of most months, recalling the rigged elections of 7 May 1989. On 7 October, thousands of people joined the demonstrators. They marched towards the Palace of the Republic, where the celebrations for the fortieth anniversary of the GDR were going on. Police officers blocked off the building, but the demonstrators’ calls for reform were audible even inside. In the evening, state security forces took brutal action against the protesters, beating them and arresting hundreds of them. Demonstrators opposite the Palace of the Republic.
Quelle: Basis-Druck-Verlag
The West German journalist Hans-Jürgen Röder in East Berlin, spring 1988. From 1979 onwards, he was a registered GDR correspondent for the Protestant Press Service. He supported the growing East German opposition through his reports and as a courier for banned newspapers, books and manuscripts.
Quelle: Hans-Jürgen Röder/Privatarchiv
Waiting for exit polls in the GDR's first free elections, 18 March 1990. In front of the Palace of the Republic, outside broadcast vans from every major German and foreign TV station showed that the world was watching.
Quelle: Rolf Zöllner
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