Leipzig, 20 years after the fall of the wall. The former East Germany’s second city was at the heart of the popular movement that brought the curtain down on communism.
On successive Mondays in the autumn of 1989 its citizens defied the authorities, gathering in the streets to demand reforms. The 9th October was a turning point in their campaign. 70,000 raised their voices, crying “freedom” and “Gorbi.” Ahead of the rally a few thousand assembled in Christian Fuhrer’s church, to hear words of encouragement from the Protestant pastor who was at the forefront of the protest. He recalls that many feared another Tienanmen Square. “The Chinese response hovered over us like a terrifying fear, which is why on that day there were no children with us. One parent stayed at home with the children, the other went to the peace prayer and the demonstration. People did something amazing. The condensed the Sermon of the Mount by Jesus, which was a subject we looked at every Monday, they condensed it into two words: No violence,” he said. Three weeks later their ranks had swollen to 300,000. The people of East Germany left the state’s new ruler, Egon Krenz, in no doubt as to what they wanted; liberty and democracy. This was the inspiriation and the rallying cry of the New Forum group, which, along with the Protestant Church was in the vanguard of the campaign for change. It was founded on the 10th September 1989, as the protest movement was gathering pace. Its stated aim was simply to debate transforming East German society, but that was enough to earn a ban from the clearly unsettled authorities. But their actions simply fuelled the fire and the protests grew. The people seemed emboldened, and as the coming weeks showed they had become an irresistable force. Where the Prague Spring failed, the East German autumn succeeded.
More on the Berlin Wall: www.euronews.net/1989-2009