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German History in Documents and Images
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Candles as a Symbol of Nonviolence (October 23, 1989)
This photograph shows participants in a "Monday demonstration" in Leipzig on October 23, 1989, five days after the forced resignation of Erich Honecker. Demonstrators lit candles to symbolize nonviolence and peaceful change. The roughly 300,000 demonstrators who came out that day protested Egon Krenz's nomination as the new SED General Secretary. Demonstrators viewed Kreuz's nomination as a confirmation of old power structures and as evidence that the government was unwilling to engage in the necessary reforms. Despite the protests, the East German parliament [Volkskammer] also elected Krenz as Chairman of the Council of State and Chairman of the National Defense Council the next day.