October 7, 1989

40th anniversary of the GDR – nation-wide protests against the regime

Photo: Martin Naumann

Although East Germany was in an existential crisis, the SED prepared for the 40th anniversary of the State with great propaganda efforts. At the same time, the protest grew louder. In Leipzig, too, October 7, 1989, was characterized by both official celebrations and open protest by the population.

Although St. Nicholas' Church was closed for the day, people gathered of their own accord from the morning hours in the St. Nicholas' Churchyard and tried to demonstrate on the city ring road. The crowd grew at times to over 4,000 people.

As in many other cities demonstrations on that day in Leipzig were broken up violently. Police used batons and dogs and, for the first time, a water cannon – a hitherto unknown image for the citizens. There were numerous injuries and arrests. In Leipzig alone, 210 people were held in part for more than 24 hours under inhuman conditions in the horse stables at the Agra exhibition grounds in Markleeberg.