The Walls Came Tumbling Down

The Events of October 1989

October was a significant month for the East German authorities as the 7th October 1989 was the 40th anniversay of the East German state.
The event was to be attended by all the Warsaw Pact leaders including the star guest, Mikhail Gorbachev.

2nd October 1989


Monday prayer meetings that began inside the church of St Nicholas in Leipzig several years ago are now attracting thousands of people.
On this day, over 10,000 people took to the streets of Leipzig......they shout, "We don't want violence, we want change".

3rd October 1989


The East German border with Czechoslovakia is closed.
Prior to the anniversary parade, demonstrations in Berlin are violently suppressed.....nothing must mar the 'big day'.
There are fears that East Germany will quell the demonstrations using extreme violence.

6th October 1989


During the traditional evening torch light parade of the Freie Deutsche Jugend (Free German Youth) the participants call out, "Gorbi, Gorbi".......a clear insult to the East German authorities.

7th October 1989


The highly militaristic parade goes ahead but Mikhail Gorbachev publicly shows impatience with the event.

9th October 1989


In Leipzig, over 70,000 people take to the streets in a peaceful protest.
Banners ask Gorbachev to help them.
Police and military units (including tanks and armoured cars) are waiting in the sidestreets.
The government have issued a "Code Red" .......permission to kill if necessary.
Nobody in the chain of command will give the order to suppress the demonstration by force.

16th October 1989


The following Monday, the Leipzig protest meeting attracts over 120,000 people.

17th October 1989


Erich Honecker is ousted by the Politburo and is replaced by Egon Krenz who announces that he will reform East Germany.
The population is not impressed and a joke of the time says, "What is the difference between Erich Honecker and Egon Krenz?"
"Answer: Krenz has got a gall-bladder"..........Honecker had an operation several years earlier.

23rd October 1989


The Leipzig demonstration attracts 300,000 who demand the resignation of Krenz.