Military Parade Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the GDR (October 7, 1989)
As signs of the decline of the SED dictatorship became ever clearer over the spring and summer of 1989, SED leaders stubbornly adhered to distant, unrealistic slogans about a victorious socialism. They chose to ignore the growing political opposition, mass demonstrations, and demands for political reform and free elections. Peaceful demonstrators in East Berlin even dared to take to the streets during the regime's official celebration of the 40th anniversary of the founding of the GDR on October 6 and 7, 1989. These demonstrations were immediately suppressed and more than a thousand people were arrested. This photo shows the VIP-grandstand on Karl-Marx Allee during the official military parade in East Berlin on October 7, 1989. Soviet head of state and party leader Mikhail Gorbachev, East German head of state and SED general secretary Erich Honecker, Raisa Gorbacheva, and Willi Stoph, prime minister of the German Democratic Republic can be seen in the middle of the grandstand, among others. The banner in the background reads, "40 Years of the GDR."