BBC Online Network
East Germany
1989
9 Oct - 3 Nov
Honecker ousted
As the number of protesters in Leipzig grew, rumours began to spread that Honecker had ordered security police to open fire on demonstrators. No shots were fired. With Tiananmen Square in mind, local party leaders refused to obey orders.

Egon KrenzDiscredited, Honecker was ousted from the Politburo on 18 October. He was replaced with the internal security chief Egon Krenz who promised "Change and Renewal" within the system. In one of his first speeches he promised dialogue, but made no promise to include in it the new opposition.

In the weeks that followed, the numbers of protesters at the Leipzig demonstrations grew from 70,000 to 300,000 to almost half a million. The demonstrators called for free elections, free travel and "freedom".

East German refugeesIn an attempt to stem the tide, Krenz sacked his entire cabinet and two-thirds of the politburo. He also reopened the border with Czechoslovakia which had been sealed to prevent East Germans fleeing West. It was not enough. Krenz, just back from an official visit to Moscow, telephoned Gorbachev. The Soviet president advised him to open the borders.

Claudia Sonntag
Eric Honecker

Mikhail Gorbachev