October 9, 1989

6.35 p.m.: The regime is forced to retreat

Photo: Gerhard Gäbler

After the prayers for peace on October 9, 1989, a demonstration march formed in the area now known as Augustusplatz. A growing crowd of people poured out of the city centre onto the ring road.

Because of threats of violence from the regime there were fears that the situation would escalate. To prevent this, Leipzig civil rights activists appealed equally to demonstrators and security forces to refrain from violence with 30,000 leaflets. Leipzig personalities as well as representatives of the SED called for moderation.

At the central railway station, the security forces stood ready to break up the demonstration. Given the overwhelming strength of the 70,000 peaceful protesters the Leipzig police chief suggested retreat. Since SED leader Erich Honecker in Berlin was not available by phone, the acting secretary of the Leipzig SED independently revoked the order to take action. The powers of the State withdrew at 6.35 p.m. The 70,000 in Leipzig had won the decisive victory over the regime.