Major demonstration on Alexanderplatz

On 4 November 1989 the largest critical demonstration in the history of the GDR took place on Alexanderplatz. The SED was attempting to uphold its claim to power, but hundreds of thousands called for democratic rights and the abolition of one-party rule in East Germany.

On the initiative of the New Forum, actors and artists from Berlin organised a large-scale demonstration. The SED leadership granted permission - but only with the intent of using the event for its own purposes. For the government, the greatest risk was if the demonstration deviated from the planned route, and it therefore stationed armed security forces to block the way towards the Berlin Wall.

Many people from other parts of East Berlin also took part in the demonstration. Artists, civil rights activists and members of the state elite addressed the crowds from a grandstand. With the words, "We're taking the liberty to which we're entitled," a representative of New Forum expressed what many people were thinking. The crowds booed and whistled most of the SED speakers. The demonstrators had had enough of the party, as their placards made perfectly clear: they wanted more democracy in the GDR.

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