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5. How important was popular dissent in bringing about the demise of the GDR?
About this Lecture
In this module, we think about the role of popular dissent in bringing about the demise of the GDR, focusing in particular on: (i) the growth of popular demonstrations throughout 1988 and 1989, including the observation of official elections in May 1989; (ii) the formation of new political parties, including New Forum, Democratic Awakening and Democracy Now; (iii) the significance of the Monday peace prayers at Nikolaikirche in Leipzig and the political demonstrations that grew out of them; (iv) the uncertainty as to how the authorities would react; (v) the events of early October: fortieth anniversary celebrations on 7 October, a large demonstration in Leipzig on 9 October; (vi) the replacement of Honecker by Egon Krenz and his promise of a 'Wende' ('turn') in the way the SED did things; (vii) the continued dissastisfation with the SED, the increasing numbers leaving East Germany via various routes, and the mass demonstration on Alexanderplatz in East Berlin on 4 November; (viii) the rapid disintegration of SED control in the first half of November: the resignation of the Council of Ministers (7 November), the resignation of the Politburo (8 November), and the opening of the border to West Germany (9 November); and (ix) the extent to which popular dissent was fuelled by other factors, e.g. external political factors, internal economic stagnation, SED leadership intransigence, etc.
In this course, Professor Anna Saunders (University of Liverpool) explores the final decade of communist rule in East Germany, through six key questions: (1) To what extent did economic factors accelerate the demise of the GDR?; (2) To what extent were Gorbachev’s policies responsible for the collapse of communist rule in East Germany?; (3) To what extent was the Protestant church significant in the collapse of communism in the GDR?; (4) To what extent did external influences contribute to the collapse of the GDR?; (5) How important was popular dissent in bringing about the demise of the GDR?; and (6) How accurate is it to say that Helmut Kohl was the main driver of reunification?
Anna Saunders is Professor of Modern Languages and Cultures at the University of Liverpool. She specialises in the history and memory of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), and in questions of memorialisation and the performance of memory in the built environment. Her recent publications include Memorializing the GDR: Monuments and Memory after 1989 (2018) and Honecker's Children: Youth and Patriotism in East(ern) Germany, 1979-2002 (2007).
Cite this Lecture
Saunders, A. (2021, February 22). Germany – The Decline of the GDR, 1980-90 - How important was popular dissent in bringing about the demise of the GDR? [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://massolit.io/courses/germany-the-decline-of-the-gdr-1980-90/how-important-was-popular-dissent-in-bringing-about-the-demise-of-the-gdr
Saunders, Anna. "Germany – The Decline of the GDR, 1980-90 – How important was popular dissent in bringing about the demise of the GDR?." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 22 Feb 2021, https://massolit.io/courses/germany-the-decline-of-the-gdr-1980-90/how-important-was-popular-dissent-in-bringing-about-the-demise-of-the-gdr