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Zion Church

The Zion Church was one of the central sites of the revolutionary autumn of 1989. The Environmental Library printed flyers and underground magazines in the rectory basement, distributing several thousand copies around the country. During that autumn, East Germany’s only independent printing plant worked around the clock, producing information sheets on the current situation, declarations and appeals by opposition initiatives.

The communist leaders tried to close down the opposition centre as early as 1987. For the first time since the 1950s, the East German state organs violated church premises. The secret police and the state prosecutor raided the Environmental Library, confiscated printing equipment and arrested members of the group. A vigil at the Zion Church, accompanied by protests across East Germany and outside the country, made the incident a media event. West German media reported the news, whereupon the East German government felt forced to release the prisoners. The communist dictatorship never fully recovered from this defeat.

Forcing the government to give in gave the East German opposition new confidence. The nationwide opposition networks, the work of supporters in the West and the secret communication routes between East and West came into their own during the 1989 revolution.

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