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

9 October in Leipzig

Even on the morning of 9 October 1989, the upcoming Monday demonstration was the talk of the town. At work and school, the people of Leipzig were warned not to go into the centre of town that evening. It was rumoured there were tanks standing by and an order to shoot had been issued. There was a great deal of fear in the city.

But greater yet was the people's anger at the SED leadership. Thousands felt the time had finally come to protest, taking part in the prayers for peace in the Church of St Nicolas and then gathering on Karl-Marx-Platz. In the evening, more and more people crowded into the square and then moved off towards the central ring road. To chants of "No violence!" some seventy thousand people marched peacefully through the city, past the station and the local Stasi administration office.

Faced with this huge number of demonstrators and without orders from Berlin to intervene, the eight thousand security forces eventually withdrew. The news of the peaceful demonstration quickly spread around the country via West German television, and was viewed as a victory over SED rule.

Tense atmosphere at Leipzig’s St. Nicholas Church on 9 October 1989.
Despite widespread fear of brutal employment of the armed security forces, on this evening people still congregated for peace prayers in Leipzig city centre’s four churches.
Source: picture-alliance/dpa/Lehtikuva Oy
On 9 October 1989, the Berlin civil rights activists Aram Radomski and Siegbert Schefke managed to smuggle a video camera past numerous security forces into Leipzig’s city centre. They filmed and photographed the Monday demonstration from the tower of the Reformed Church. Their film footage wrote history. Ulrich Schwarz, a correspondent for the West German news magazine Der Spiegel, smuggled the tape to West Berlin that same evening. West German television broadcast the material they recorded into GDR homes the next day and the images were shown around the world.
Source: Robert Havemann Society/Aram Radomski
The atmosphere in Leipzig before the Monday demonstration on 9 October 1989 was very tense. People feared the worst. Western correspondents were banned from the city. Aram Radomsik and Siegbert Schefke filmed the decisive day in Leipzig with a video camera of this type.
Source: Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft/Frank Ebert
[Translate to English:] Vor der Montagsdemonstration am 9. Oktober 1989 ist die Lage in Leipzig gespannt. Es wird das Schlimmste befürchtet. Westkorrespondenten ist der Aufenthalt in der Stadt verboten. Mit einer Videokamera filmen Siegbert Schefke und Aram Radomski (Selbstporträt) den Demonstrationszug.
Source: Robert-Havemann-Gesellschaft/Aram Radomski

Mit einem bestellten Leserbrief in der Leipziger Volkszeitung vom 6. Oktober 1989 schürt ein Kommandeur der paramilitärischen Kampfgruppen Angst in der Stadt und lässt keinen Zweifel an der Gewaltbereitschaft der Einsatzkräfte.


Werktätige des Bezirkes fordern:
Staatsfeindlichkeit nicht länger dulden

"Die Angehörigen der Kampfgruppenhundertschaft „Hans Geiffert“ verurteilen, was gewissenlose Elemente seit einiger Zeit in der Stadt Leipzig veranstalten. [...] Wir sind dagegen, daß diese kirchliche Veranstaltung mißbraucht wird, um staatsfeindliche Provokationen gegen die DDR durchzuführen. [...] Wir sind bereit und Willens, daß von uns mit unserer Hände Arbeit Geschaffene wirksam zu schützen. [...] Wenn es sein muß, mit der Waffe in der Hand!

“With weapons in our hands”: in a letter to the editor of the local newspaper, the Leipziger Volkszeitung of 6 October 1989, a commander of paramilitary combat groups stirred up fear in the city, leaving no doubt as to the task forces’ willingness to use violence.
Source: Leipziger Volkszeitung, 06.10.1989
With their appeal “We are one people” on 9 October 1989, Leipzig opposition groups called for non-violence on the part of the task forces and security forces. It was only after this day that the state powers no longer took violent action against demonstrators.
Source: Archiv Bürgerbewegung Leipzig

In unserer Gesprächsreihe „Fundstücke“ stellen Ausstellungsmacher und Zeitzeugen der Revolution Fotos, Filme und Dokumente aus der Open-Air-Ausstellung vor, die ihnen besonders wichtig sind. Tina Krone, Leiterin des Archivs der DDR-Opposition und Kuratorin, berichtet über ihren 9. Oktober 1989 in Berlin.


Siegbert Schefke - Protestdemonstration am 9. Oktober 1989 in Leipzig

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