The Events of 1989

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  • The Events of 1989
    • Opening of Hungary’s Borders
      • The wall became obsolete when Hungary opened its borders with Austria. East Germans on holiday in Hungary could simply cross the border.
      • 10th Sept Hungary stepped down from its agreement with the GDR to check exit visas.
      • Others camped out in West German embassy in Budapest demanding their exit visa. The GDR Government was slow to respond.
      • The closed border with the West was made a joke by the open border between Hungary and Austria.
      • Honecker banned East Germans from going to Hungary so they moved onto Poland or Czechoslovakia. Honecker closed the GDR’s borders!
      • The GDR’s 40th anniversary celebrations seemed absurd – what was there to celebrate about a country isolated from the rest of the world.
    • Protest
      • People were protesting about everything, living conditions, pollution,lack of freedom – but it was not yet a challenge to the regime, the authorities failed to realize this.
      • There was no coordinated movement; Christians wanted more religious rights, FRG Green party wanted environmental rights. But there was no revolutionary movement.
    • Protests in Leipzig
      • St Nicholas Church in Leipzing became a focal point for protesters; regular Monday crowds were 70,000 people strong.
      • Mielke ordered the Stasi to shoot to kill; hospitals were cleared ready to receive the wounded. The protests still took place but not shots were fired.
      • This has been explained by;
        • USSR troops had been told by Gorbachev to stay in the barracks
        • The members of the Politburo did not want a slaughter on their hands – they would lose popularity and were trying to celebrate their 40th anniversary!
        • Mielke could not trust the security forces to fire – he could order them and then them refuse they would look weak.
      • The demonstrators themselves were peaceful
    • Gorbachev’s visit to East Berlin
      • Mass protests were taking place and no one could stop them.
      • Gorbachev was the guest of honor. When he saw a parade he heard people shouting ‘Gorby! Save us!’ this was from the FDJ.
      • Many members of the Politburo wanted to overthrow Honecker but had not been organized to do so; they were so used to being told what to do by central planners!
      • Gorbachev told the GDR he would not interfere in internal affairs.This is not want Honecker now wanted, as he could not rely on the Soviet troops to put down rebellions.
      • Honecker was asked to resign on 17th October – he did but said this would not solve the problems.
      • two events led to his downfall;
      • Even when Honecker was ill in September 1989 they did not nothing! They left the Stasi to destroy the protesters and they also blamed the West and FRG for spreading unrest..
      • Honecker tried to ignore the protests and focus on the 40 th anniversary but his plans went awry.
    • Krenz and the Opening of the Berlin Wall
      • Krenz visited the USSR on 1 November but came away with nothing.
      • Gradual reform for emigration – liberalized foreign travel. However this was thrown out by the Volkskammer.
      • Reopened the border with Czechoslovakia, thousands of would be emigrants began to travel again.
      • He tried to replace some older members of the SED with younger ones, but these reforms just seemed to reinforce how ineffective the Government was.
      • Stasi began to shred their files
      • 30,000 people marched in Leipzig to call for the resignation of the new leader Ergon Krenz.
      • His reform was just enough to dampen down protest;
      • Protests had gathered more momentum with 750,000 people gatheringon the streets at any one time
    • Opening of the Berlin Wall
      • 9th November 1989 - East Germany announced that it's citizens were allowed to cross the border with West Berlin.
      • People were reunited with friends and family who they hadn't seen for 30 years.
      • Symbol of the end of the Cold War.
      • The Communist Government was unable to contain it's citizens desire for freedom once neighboring states had abandoned Communism
      • Opening of Berlin Wall was the first step in the reuniting of Germany.
      • East German government forced to announce greater freedom of travel for East German citizens.


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