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Berlin

Berlin was a focal point of the Peaceful Revolution in 1989/90. Here, as in many other East German towns and cities, people began openly opposing the state more and more often.



It began with only a few people, usually meeting up on church premises or in private homes. When opposition activists revealed the fraud at the local elections of 7 May 1989, the protest moved onto the streets. Five months later, on 7 October, thousands demonstrated against the SED leadership outside the Palace of the Republic. On 4 November hundreds of thousands gathered for the largest East German protest on Alexanderplatz. Only five days after that rally, East and West Berliners were embracing and celebrating the fall of the Berlin Wall together.

As a divided city, Berlin was always a mirror image of Germany’s situation and a focus of world attention. In no other place were the division and the contrasts between the two German political systems as directly visible and tangible. And nowhere else was it as clear that, despite the deadly border, neither contacts between the East and the West nor the feeling of belonging together would ever come to an end. On the contrary, people on both sides of the Wall were active against the East German dictatorship.

Without a wide range of support from the West, the revolution in the GDR would not have been possible. The West Berlin media played a particularly important role. They picked up the news of the revolutionary events in East Germany and broadcast it back into people’s living rooms. Their reporting was a key factor in encouraging more and more people in the GDR to overcome their fear and find the courage to take open and confident action for freedom and against the dictatorship.

The following pages present places in the East and West of the formerly divided Berlin where important events of the revolution took place. If you’d like to explore these sites yourself, we provide a useful map, available as a PDF.
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