The Peaceful Revolution in Leipzig

At several places in downtown Leipzig there used to be text-panels with information about the dramatic events of October and November 1989.

This one in front of the opera house described the “Day of Decision” on 9 October 1989:

“After the peace prayers in four Leipzig churches, more than 70,000 citizens demonstrated against the SED regime [SED = Socialist Unity Party of Germany, the ruling party of the East German state] with the slogans “No Violence” and “We are the People”, in spite of their great fear of armed clashes. The assembled 8,000 armed forces (police, members of fighting groups and soldiers of the National People’s Army) withdrew in face of the demonstrating masses.

“The peaceful course of the 9th of October was considered a victory over the regime. From now on the protests spread out over the entire country. The SED, however, spent the next few weeks preparing to break up the demonstrations by force. At the same time, the party conducted “Dialogue” meetings in an attempt to end the demonstrations by establishing a long-overdue dialogue with the citizens.

“In the following weeks the number of demonstrators increased steadily. On the 6th of November 400,000 people demonstrated for democratic change. Hundreds of thousands kept on demonstrating even after the opening of the Wall on November 9th.”

Augustusplatz by night, from the opera house

The large square in front of the opera house in Leipzig is now (again) called Augustusplatz (after Frederick Augustus, the first king of Saxony), with the Gewandhaus concert hall at the far end.

During the four decades of the German Democratic Republic this square was known as Karl-Marx-Platz — which didn’t stop them from using it as a parking lot for most of that time.

My photos in this post are from 2005. I revised the text in 2020.

See more posts on Leipzig, Germany.
See also: Rostock 1989, about the first few days after the opening of the wall.

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