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Mass Demonstration on Alexanderplatz in East Berlin (November 4, 1989)

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But we continue to see pictures of those leaving, and we have to ask ourselves, “What is to be done?” And the answer echoes, Do something! It is a start when demands become rights – and obligations. Fact-finding committees, constitutional court, administrative reform. There’s a lot to be done. And all of it during our spare time. And we still need time to read the newspaper (applause)! We won’t have any more time to pay official homage or to attend prescribed demonstrations (loud applause).

This is a rally, authorized and nonviolent. If it stays that way until the end, then we will have learned yet more what we are capable of. And then we will insist upon it (loud applause).

I have a suggestion for the First of May: The leaders march past the people (cheers and loud applause)!

All of that is not from me. It is part of the popular literary heritage. Unbelievable transformation. The people of the GDR have taken to the streets to see themselves as such, as a people. And this is the most important sentence of recent weeks – that which we have shouted thousands of times, “We are the people” (loud applause)! A simple observation, and one we won’t forget (applause). [ . . . ]

Christoph Hein, Author:

Dear fellow citizens who have found your voices: There is a lot for all of us to do, and we have so little time to do it. The structures of this society must be changed if they are to be democratic and socialist. And this is the only alternative. We must speak of the dirty hands and the dirty laundry. Infiltration, corruption, abuse of power, theft of national property – all these things must be cleared up, and this clarification must extend to the very top of the government; in fact, it must start there (applause).

We must beware of confusing the euphoria we have been experiencing in recent days with the changes that still need to be made. Enthusiasm and demonstrations were, and are, helpful and necessary. But they are not a substitute for work. Let us not be deceived by our own enthusiasm. There is still a lot to do. We’re not out of the woods yet! (applause). And there are still a lot of people who do not want to see any changes, who fear a new society, and who have good reason to be afraid (applause). [ . . . ]

Let us create a democratic society (applause) with a legal foundation of guaranteed rights. A form of socialism which does not make a mockery of the word. A society appropriate for the people, not subordinating them to its structures. This will mean a lot of work for us all, even a lot of detailed work, worse than knitting. And one more thing. As the saying goes, success has many fathers. Apparently, many believe that the changes in the GDR have already been successful, for many fathers have appeared, reporting such success. Strange fathers (applause).

All the way up to the very top of the government. But I don’t think our memories are so bad that we don’t remember who began to break down the omnipotent structures, who ended the sleep of reason. It was the reason of the streets, the demonstrations of the people (applause).

Without these demonstrations, the government would not have changed and the work which we have begun would not have followed (applause).

Most important to mention in this context is Leipzig (applause). I believe that the mayor of Berlin, on behalf of all its citizens – since we are all gathered here together – and the Council of State and the Volkskammer should declare Leipzig the “GDR City of Heroes” (loud applause). [ . . . ]

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