The Berlin authors' association set the ball rolling as the first of the conformist artists' associations to take action. On 14 September 1989 it made a public critical declaration. The entertainers' association followed suit a few days later. Both organisations criticised the SED's policies and called for reforms. Almost all the country's theatres expressed criticism, some of them making their stages available for public protest.
In the parties that had previously formed a single election bloc along with the SED, a process of withdrawal from the state party began. The bloc parties were no longer willing to simulate a multi-party system. Members of the state mass organisations, such as the unified trade union FDGB and the youth organisation FDJ, started leeching away in huge numbers. University and college students demanded unhindered access to academic literature and their own independent student bodies.