GHDI logo

Protest by Dissidents at the Memorial March for Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht (January 18, 1988)

page 2 of 2    print version    return to list previous document      next document

After a few minutes, it looks as though everything has calmed down on the surface of things. The remaining members of the group of protesters, maybe twenty or thirty women and men with the children on their shoulders, stand with their backs to the wall, wedged in by the organs of the state. Among the “workers” at the square, the situation is intolerably calm. No one causes a stir when the Stasi is around. It’s not that no one witnessed the officers’ actions; it’s just that they’re just omnipresent in the crowd.

When, after an hour, the independent group starts moving to join the official demonstration, they don’t make it very far. About fifty Stasi men encircle the group. “You are not wanted at this demonstration,” a gentleman with a beige-colored windbreaker says quietly. He points his arm to the side. “Please assemble over there.” A woman in the encircled group refers to the official appeals in Neues Deutschland that called for participation in the “demonstration of struggle” for the revolutionaries who were murdered in 1919. “Why are you stopping us?” she asks.

“You will be told at the proper time and proper place” is the windbreaker’s unflinching message. “Assemble over there.” They do as they are instructed. The tone of the conversation is decidedly friendly. But whenever someone in the encircled group tries to slip out of it at the edge of Frankfurter Allee, he or she is immediately jostled roughly and shoved back into it by the windbreaker’s subordinates. They don’t get caught up in the arguments of those arrested: “We know more about you than what you say here,” announces the Stasi commander. He gets laughter when he wants to know who in the group “organized the whole thing.” “Someone here must be ‘wearing the hat,’” he says. There must be one person with whom he can “enter into discussions to clarify the situation.” Heads shake in the group. “Here, everyone can speak for him- or herself. They don’t understand that something can happen without being organized.” For a short moment, the windbreaker is slightly perplexed, but then he’s back in his element.

The police truck has arrived. The IDs of those arrested are collected and the vehicle disappears in a black cloud of diesel smoke; it’s off to deliver the involuntary passengers to the “proper place” at the “proper time.”

Source: E. Mielke (Pseudonym?), „Sie sind bei dieser Demonstration unerwünscht” [“You Are Not Wanted at This Demonstration”], tageszeitung, January 18, 1988.

Translation: Allison Brown

first page < previous   |   next > last page