The "Turnaround" with Krenz at the helm

On 18 October 1989 the SED functionary Egon Krenz was presented as the successor to Erich Honecker as head of the state and the Socialist Unity Party. Krenz announced a change of tack for the state party, making concessions to the demonstrators by raising the prospect of reforms. The SED leadership wanted to work with political means via a policy of "dialogue" rather than violence. It hoped to win back the trust it had lost and stabilise its power once more.

However, the population saw Egon Krenz as Honecker's crown prince, a man absolutely unsuitable for initiating genuine democracy in the GDR. People were well aware of his co-responsibility for electoral fraud and violence against demonstrators, and had not forgotten his approval of the brutal suppression of peaceful student protests in Beijing in June of 1989.

Nevertheless, concessions and the renunciation of violence did have specific repercussions. Up to this point, the state had seemed absolutely invulnerable. Now it had revealed itself as instable and open to attack. More and more people started joining demonstrations all over the country.

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