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

The battle for power

The Wall was open. The GDR leadership did not surrender its power voluntarily, however. Consequently, there was no end to the demonstrations. It finally came to strikes and prison revolts. State security service buildings were occupied and free elections forced through.

Berlin on 23 January 1990. Dismantling the party emblem on the building of the SED Central Committee, power centre of the GDR up until December 1989.
Source: Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft/Volker Döring/RHG_Fo_VDoe_87

After the fall of the Wall, the situation in the GDR continued to worsen. In the months that followed, people continued to demonstrate on the streets, while there were strikes in factories and prisons. They called for the SED to renounce its right to leadership. Members of the SED also revolted, and even people in the army and police protested.

At the beginning of December 1989, civil rights activists occupied key Stasi buildings. The SED-dominated government attempted to keep control of the country's administration. But when GDR citizens stormed the secret police headquarters in Berlin in January 1990, the last bastion of power fell.

The government, only in office for two months, ought to have resigned. Instead, Prime Minister Hans Modrow appointed representatives of the opposition as additional ministers in his government. At this time of turmoil, the Central Round Table guaranteed a non-violent transition to a democratic future.

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