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The Triumph of Nonviolence in Leipzig (October 9, 1989)

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Six important Leipzig personalities issued a call for calm, which was read aloud during peace devotions in St. Nicholas Church [Nikolaikirche] and three other churches: "Our common concern and responsibility has brought us together here today. We are taken aback by the developments in our city and are searching for a solution. We all need a free exchange of views about the continuing development of socialism in our country. Therefore, the public figures whose names are being read today promise all citizens that they will apply their full power and authority to advancing this dialogue, not only within the district of Leipzig, but also with our government. We urgently request that you remain calm, so that a peaceful dialogue is possible."

This joint appeal by cabaret artist Bernd-Lutz Lange, Gewandhaus music director Kurt Masur, and theologian Peter Zimmermann, along with secretary of the SED district leadership Kurt Meyer, Jochen Pommert, and Roland Wötzel was also broadcast at 6pm by the Sender Leipzig television station and about an hour later by the local radio station. This request to speak, as committed as it was courageous, undoubtedly contributed to the day's peaceful development, though it did not play the decisive role prematurely attributed to it. Only the concentrated power of the 70,000 fearful yet unyielding people who occupied the downtown and lined the city ring forced the ultimate retreat of the armed units at around 6:25pm. It was undoubtedly these anonymous people that Christof Hein had in mind when he proposed naming Leipzig the GDR’s "City of Heroes." –

On October 9th in Leipzig, the German Democratic Revolution of 1989 triumphed. On that Monday, the cry “We are the people” became the material force that gave rise to and accelerated every hesitant concession by the party and government from that point on.” [ . . . ]

Source: Preface (pp. 7-8), “Oktoberrevolution 1989” [“October Revolution 1989”], from Leipziger Demontagebuch. Zusammengestellt und mit einer Chronik von Wolfgang Schneider [Leipzig Dismantling Book. Compiled and with a Chronicle by Wolfgang Schneider] © Aufbau Verlag GmbH & Co. KG, Berlin 1990 (the original edition was published in 1990 by Gustav Kiepenheuer Verlag; Gustav Kiepenheuer is an imprint of Aufbau Verlag GmbH & Co. KG); the original German text was reprinted in Christoph Kleßmann and Georg Wagner, eds., Das gespaltene Land. Leben in Deutschland 1945-1990 [The Divided Country. Life in Germany 1945-1990]. Munich: C.H. Beck, 1993, pp. 438-40.

Translation: Jeremiah Riemer

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