Cold War Files: All Units: Events: Largest Protest Demonstration in the History of the GDR in Berlin

November 4, 1989
Largest Protest Demonstration in the History of the GDR in Berlin

The center of East Berlin was entirely filled with demonstrators by the early morning of November 4, 1989. Traffic had come to a complete standstill. Actors wearing green and yellow sashes, bearing the slogan "No Violence" were on hand to keep order, and were accepted goodnaturedly by everyone. A security partnership with the People's Police had been established.

There were almost no uniforms in sight, not even in front of the People's Chamber and the Council of State building, which would see hundreds of thousands file past, demanding freedom of press and assembly and radical reform. According to official estimates, more than half a million people took part in this, the largest protest demonstration in East German history. It concluded with a rally on Alexanderplatz that opened with actor Ulrich Mühe expressing what everyone was feeling: "It was just wonderful." East Berlin had never witnessed so much shared determination and imaginative spontaneity, in such a radical yet calm atmosphere.

Even though the difficult phase of restructuring still lay ahead, all agree on this day that East Germany changed more the upcoming four weeks than in all the previous four decades. November 4 became a milestone. The SED leadership could no longer ignore the demands of the masses; there was no going back to old methods of rule.

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