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Demonstration in Plauen, 7 October 1989: Police chain at Plauen theater [2/6]

OBJECT INFORMATION
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October 7 1989
Plauen, Theaterplatz
Created By: Martin Flach

License: Creative Commons License

A row of police in front of the theater in Plauen, Saxony (now known as "Theater Plauen-Zwickau"), where the first mass protest in the GDR that security forces were unable to dissolve took place. Protests were subsequently held there every Saturday until the first democratic elections took place on 18 March, 1990. 7 October is now commemorated in Plauen as the "Day of Democracy"

Depicts

banner (flag), baton, flag of the GDR, group of people, helmet, member of the People's Police, October 7, 1989, pavement, police cordon, rain, theater

Context

celebration, Christian Church, city hall, courage, gun, hope, mayor, No violence!, rain, reform, resistance, surveillance camera, the Monday demonstrations

People/Organizations

Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev, Ministry for State Security, People's Police

Places

Plauen Theater Place

Other items in this set

Memory

"I wrote down these thoughts immediately after the first spontaneous and peaceful demonstration took place in Plauen. For many people, it came as a surprise, and the experience became firmly rooted in our hearts. Later, many would speak of the 'heroic town of Plauen'. The only thing that really counts is that Plauen was one of the first centres of non-violent resistance! Plauen in Vogtland, situated on the railway line between Dresden and Hof, along which our fellow compatriots travelled in sealed trains from the West German embassy in Prague. Plauen in Vogtland, where, on the rainy birthday of our republic, hope germinated as first hundreds, and then thousands demonstrated peacefully until well into the night in this, our country – under the strict surveillance of low-flying helicopters of the so-called People’s Police, which were constantly circling over our heads, and the concealed (but quickly discovered) video cameras of the Stasi.

What demands did we citizens of Plauen make on 7 October 1989? We articulated an unmistakable call for change in our country, for change of the kind that so many of us had heard in Mikhail Gorbachev’s demand for perestroika and glasnost.

It was disheartening to see and experience the way in which the state, which was merely waiting for an excuse to strike back with the utmost brutality, opposed our peaceful demonstration with a demonstration of force. It was disheartening to see the way the mayor we had elected was hiding in the town hall behind a row of what were supposed to be our People’s Police and combat troops with submachine guns. On occasion of the celebration of the 'birth of the GDR in the presence of invited and proven comrades', he was evidently unable to find the courage to come out while his town was 'on its feet' and wishing to speak to him.

It was good to see the way our superintendent, Mr. Küttler, of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church walked up to the line of police, inspiring courage in us all, and urging restraint ('No violence!').

Epilogue, written in October 2009

Not everything we had thought, hoped for, and desired at the time has been fulfilled. Many things have turned out quite differently, but one thing is and remains true: Our peaceful revolution was right and long overdue!"

Martin Flach (Plauen)

Original Caption

"Riot police with batons by the theater"