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

Escape via Prague

Hans-Dietrich Genscher announced the first exit permits for approximately six thousand East German refugees from the balcony of the German embassy in Prague on the evening of 30 September 1989. Only four days later, several thousand people were once again waiting outside the embassy to escape to the West.
Source: picture-alliance/dpa/Kemmether
A mother and daughter saying goodbye through the fence of the West German embassy in Prague, 3 September 1989.
Source: picture-alliance/dpa/Kemmether
Czechoslovakian police officers tried to prevent East Germans from climbing the embassy fence, sometimes using violence.
Source: AP-Photo/DE/stf/Diether Endlicher
Improvised accommodation in the grounds of the Prague embassy, September 1989.
Source: RegierungOnline/Seebode
The West German foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher (r.) and chancellery head Rudolf Seiters (l.) informing the press that West Germany would accept the refugees, 30 September 1989.
Source: picture-alliance/dpa/Kemmether
In October 1989 the Stasi returned cars left behind by refugees to the GDR.
Source: Federal Commissioner for the Records of the State Security Service of the Former GDR

During the summer holidays of 1989, several hundred East Germans had sought refuge in the West German embassy in Prague. It was easy enough to travel to neighbouring communist Czechoslovakia and continue on to Hungary. When the checks on the Czechoslovak-Hungarian border were tightened, the numbers occupying the embassy in Prague swelled to several thousand.

Numerous diplomatic negotiations finally brought about a compromise; the refugees were allowed to emigrate to West Germany. They had to travel via East German territory, however, to be officially expelled from the country. They were taken to the Federal Republic on special trains during the night of 30 September. The moment the pictures of the cheering refugees were aired around the world, thousands more sought refuge in the West German diplomatic mission in Prague, making their way to the West in the same way over the following days.

On 3 October 1989, the GDR leadership then closed the border to Czechoslovakia, holding the East Germans captive in their own country. Yet the critical voices in the population were growing ever louder, calling for public reforms, democratic rights and freedom.

The SED party newspaper Neues Deutschland reported on the exodus on 2 October 1989. A commentary written by the head of state and the SED, Erich Honecker, caused indignation among large sections of the country’s population.
Source: Neues Deutschland, 02.10.1989
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