Friday 18 October 2019

friedliche revolution

Beginning with securing the right to hold regional open elections—with opposition candidates competing against the state party in May of 1989 and the later assemblies referred to as Montagsdemos ahead of celebrations of the country’s fortieth anniversary jubilee amid heavy crackdowns on people attempting to flee the regime, the Peaceful Revolution of East Germany showed itself as unstoppable force on 18 October 1989 when deputy and chairman of the State Council Egon Krenz, heeding the people’s will, conspired with other like-minded members of the Politbüro (with the blessings of the Soviet Union) to oppose and overthrow the long-running leadership of Erich Honecker.
It is always difficult to discern decisive moments but it seems that before this coup, the revolt could have failed.  Staunchly opposed to any reforms and the talk of glasnost and in power since 1971 (his wife Margot being the Minister of National Education all that time as well), the Chairman believed that the only way for Communism to survive the scourges of the West was to take a hard line approach, like Cuba and North Korea and was granted sanctuary in Moscow—at least until protector Mikhail Gorbachev ceded powers to Boris Yeltsin on Christmas Day in 1991. Wanting to be rid of this political liability and stateless person, Yeltsin remitted Honecker to a now united Germany—Krenz helping to oversee the transition—to stand trial. Terminally ill, the court threw the case out (not without massive protests) and eventually allowed Honecker to resettle and join his family in Santiago, Chile.