The three nights of disturbances were the most serious in East Berlin since a clash following a rock concert in October 1977. Four persons reportedly died in that confrontation.
The incidents came at a particularly embarrassing time for East Germany, which has sought to use this year’s 750th anniversary of Berlin to highlight the country’s successes. East Germany enjoys one of the highest standards of living in Eastern Europe and has shown few signs of political instability.
The street confrontations are likely to sharpen the dilemma facing the East German president, Erich Honecker, who has resisted Mikhail S. Gorbachev’s appeals for greater openness and democracy in communist societies, Western diplomats said.
The East German authorities fear that an easing of restrictions on the media or on public debate could be more disruptive than in other East European countries, according to the diplomats and other political observers. That is because East Germans, with ready access to West German television and radio and with family and historical ties to West Germany, are more likely than other East Europeans to expect Western-style freedoms, they said.
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Source: Robert J. McCartney, “East German Police, Rock Fans Clash in Berlin for the Third Straight Night,” International Herald Tribune, June 10, 1987.