Dresden and Germany's
'Peaceful Revolution' of 1989
PHOTOS: A pavement inscription on Prager
Strasse and a commemorative column pay tribute to the October demonstrations of
Dresden was one many East German cities whose citizens contributed to
the "Peaceful Revolution," a movement that led to the opening of the
borders between East and West Germany, the collapse of the Berlin Wall, and
German reunification in 1990.
first major "Peaceful Revolution" event in Dresden took place on October 4,
1989, when more than 5,000 people formed a procession along Prager Strasse (the
main street between Dresden's central railroad station and Altstadt).
moved toward the Hauptbahnhof, where "freedom trains" were scheduled to
pass through on their way from Prague to West Germany. (The "freedom trains"
carried GDR citizens who had sought refuge at the West German Embassy in
Prague.) Some 1,300 people were arrested during the October 4 demonstration or
Larger demonstrations followed. In nearby Leipzig, an estimated
70,000 protesters marched for freedom on October 9. (See our article on the
Demonstrations.) On November 4, a million people demonstrated in Berlin, an
event that led to the opening of the Berlin Wall on November 9. The GDR had its
first free elections on March 18, 1990, and the reunification of Germany
formally took place on October 3, 1990.
Retracing the Peaceful Revolution
A press release from Dresden Tourism describes locations that
recall the events of October, 1989:
"Visitors can tour Dresden and see places of commemoration
relating to that dramatic period. These include writing on the pavement in
Prager Strasse, the Kreuzkirche [a site of "peace prayers"], the
Frauenkirche [where gatherings took place in front of the old church's
ruins], and the propagandist mural Der Weg der roten Fahne ('The Way
of the Red Flag') on the side of the Kulturpalast.
the Semper Opera played a role in 1989: In her production of Fidelio
on October 7, Christine Mielitz put GDR border fences and soldiers on the
stage as symbols of a repressive system."
Bautzner Strasse Memorial
Another location that merits a visit is the Gedenkstätte
Bautzner Strasse, or Bautzner Street Memorial, the former Stasi
interrogation prison for the Dresden District of the GDR's State Security
Service. The complex has been preserved in its original state, with
interrogation rooms, receiving and transfer facilities, and prison cells. It
also houses exhibitions that relate to the GDR, political oppression, and
student opposition to the East German regime.
The Memorial is open Monday to
Friday from 9 a.m.to 4 p.m. or by appointment. Admission is free.
In Radebuel, on the outskirts of
DDR Museum - Zeitreise (GDR Museum - a Journey Through Time) offers a
nonpolitical look at daily life in the German Democratic Republic. It's open
Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. If you don't read German, see
this page, which shows the museum's location on a map. (You can reach the
museum from central Dresden on the No. 4 streetcar line; get off at the