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

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Steffie Spira, Actress:

In 1933 I went alone to a foreign country. I took nothing with me, but I had several lines of “In Praise of the Dialectic,” a poem by Bertolt Brecht, in my head:

Things do not stay the way they are.
Those who live never say never.
Those who have recognized their situation,
how can they be stopped.
And that ‘never’ will yet become ‘today’!

I hope that my great-grandchildren will grow up without a military rollcall, without civics (loud applause), and that no blueshirts* with torches will march past high officials (loud applause).

And I have another suggestion: We’ll make a senior citizens’ home out of Wandlitz** (loud applause).

Those over 60 or 65 can stay right where they are if they do what I am now doing – stepping down! (Loud, long applause).

* Refers to the Free German Youth, the SED youth organization – ed.
** Walled-off residence of high SED officials – ed.

Source of English translation: "Christa Wolf, Christoph Hein, and Steffi Spira at the Berlin Demonstration" (November 4, 1989), in Konrad H. Jarausch and Volker Gransow, eds., Uniting Germany: Documents and Debates, 1944-1993. Translated by Allison Brown and Belinda Cooper. Berghahn Books: Providence and Oxford, 1994, pp. 70-73. © Berghahn Books.

Source of original German text: 40 Jahre DDR – TschüsSED: 4.11.89 [40 Years of the GDR – Good-bye SED]. Catalogue for the exhibition on "Initiativgruppe 4.11.89" in the Museum für deutsche Geschichte, East Berlin, and in the Haus der Geschichte der Bundesrepublik Deutschland Bonn. Bonn, 1990, p. 38 ff.

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