Monday, 4 November 2019

wende ohne wenn und aber

On this day in East Berlin’s Alexanderplatz (previously) in 1989, up to a million demonstrators peaceably assembled for the largest rally registered and tolerated by the authorities.
Riding on the momentum of the Montagsdemos and shocked by the police violence committed against those who had demonstrated during the celebrations of the DDR’s fortieth anniversary a month beforehand, members of East Berlin’s theatre industry sought and were surprisingly granted permission to organise the event—hoping that official sanction would refuse the potential for injury.
The party was also invited to send speakers to address the crowd and deliver a defence for the status quo, the aims were to bring about democratic reforms in East Germany and enforce those provisions in the constitution that enshrined freedom of speech and assembly in theory but were lacking in practise and nothing so grand as opening the border or reuniting the divided nation. Party officers withered before the jeering masses. Parade marshals were dispatched to work the throngs with bright yellow sashes calling for “Keine Gewalt”—No Violence—and attendees were encouraged to bring signs, whose slogans included Bürgerrechte nicht nur auf Papier (Civil rights not only on paper) and Change – No Ifs, Ands or Buts.