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Kollwitzkiez in Berlin
Kollwitzkiez © visitBerlin, Foto: Dagmar Schwelle

Sites of the Peaceful Revolution

On 9 November 1989, the news shot around the world, telling of the opening of the East German borders with West Germany. Berlin was one of the centres of the Peaceful Revolution. What happened in the weeks and months before the fall of the Wall can be explored by visiting the panels marking sites in both East and West Berlin important to the history of the revolution: neighbourhoods that were hotspots and rendezvous for opposition groups, places where protesters confronted the government, and squares where democratic movements demanded their rights. They show the broad support for the movement in West Berlin and remember how the first successful German revolution managed to succeed without violence. The focus is on the personal stories of key players in the story. Striking photos and descriptions that can be listed to in eight languages will bring the story of the Peaceful Revolution to life at the actual spots where the events took place. Along with the markings on the city streets indicating where the Wall once stood, these panels will take visitors through an exciting chapter in recent German history.

Sites of the Peaceful Revolution

  • 1. Gethsemane Church

In the autumn of 1989 this was a key site for the revolution. Thousands of people came together to voice their protest. Hundreds of candles burned outside the church, becoming a symbol of peaceful resistance. Gethsemane Church, Stargarder Straße 77, Prenzlauer Berg

  • 2. Schlossplatz

This square was the heart of political power in East Germany. It was the site of the ruling SED's central committee, the state council building and the Palace of the Republic. When the country's leaders celebrated themselves on the 40th anniversary of the GDR, enraged citizens held a spontaneous march to Schlossplatz. Am Lustgarten, Mitte

  • 3. Potsdamer Straße

The West German media were a catalyst for the Peaceful Revolution. Radio 100 regularly reported on oppositioin activities in its programme Glasnost. The editorial offices on Potsdamer Straße informed the East Germans about what was going on in their own country - uncensored. Potsdamer Straße 131, Schöneberg

  • 4. Around Teutoburger Platz

In the 1980s, a lively subculture grew up around this square. Young people in particular, including many artists, live in the decrepit old buildings. The painter and civil rights activist Bärbel Bohley had her studio here, one of the most important meeting places for the opposition. Fehrbelliner Straße/Templiner Straße, Prenzlauer Berg

  • 5. Press Office of the GDR Council of Ministers

On 9 November 1989 the government representative Günter Schabowski held a press conference here, announcing the sensational news of the immediate relaxation of travel regulations for East Germans. Many East berliners flooded to the border and the Berlin Wall fell only hours later. Mohrenstraße 37/38, Mitte

  • 6. Schöneberg Town Hall

On the day after the fall of the Berlin Wall, tens of thousands of East and West Berliners came together for a rally outside the town hall, listening to speeches by prominent West German politicians including Willy Brandt and Chancellor Helmut Kohl. Rathaus Schöneberg, John-F.-Kennedy-Platz 1, Schöneberg

  • 7. Dietrich Bonhoeffer House

One of the foundation stones for democracy in East Germany was laid in this house. IN December 1989 representatives of the government and the opposition came together here for the first time at the Round Table, to negotiate democratic change and prepare for free elections in the GDR. Dietrich-Bonhoeffer-Haus, Ziegelstraße 30, Mitte

  • 8. Confessional Church

In the 1980s, the Confessional Church was a refuge for people under political pressure in East Germany, peace activists, environmental groups, people who wanted to leave the country. The grassroots movement Democracy Now and the Green Party in the GDR were both founded here in the autumn of 1989. Confessional Church, Plesserstraße 4, Treptow

  • 9. Zion church

In the Environmental Library, opposition activists printed self-published illegal magazines and flyers, which were distributed across East Germany. At the end of 1987 the Stasi raided the church premises and arrested several activists. Zion church, Zionskirchplatz 32, Mitte

  • 10. Kollwitzplatz

An alternative culture developed in this area from the mid-1970s on forming the basis of the legend of Prenzlauer Berg. Counter-culture artists, dropouts and opposition activists occupied vacant houses, where they held readings, exhibitions and political discussions. Kollwitzplatz, Kollwitzstraße / Wörther Straße, Prenzlauer Berg

  • 11. Church of the Good Samaritan

Some of the prominent East German opposition groups met in this church. They included the church's own Peace Circle, which was involved in revealing the election fraud of May 1989. The blues masses held in the 1980s attracted many young people from all over the country. Samariterkirche, Samariterstraße 27, Friedrichshain

  • 12. House of Democracy

The House of Democracy, set up in January 1990, provided space for opposition groups and parties. The building had previously housed the ruling SED party's local headquarters, its new use symbolising the success of the grassroots movements. Friedrichstraße 165, Mitte

  • 13. Broadcasting House

Radio Free Berlin was the voice of the Peaceful Revolution in the West. It could also be heard in the eastern part of the city and was one of the most important information sources for the East Germans. The first interviews with East and West Berliners after the Fall of the Wall were broadcast from here. Masurenallee 8-14, Charlottenburg

  • 14. Görlitzer Ufer with Death Stripe

Many opposition activists left East Germany of were forcibly expatriated. A number of them settled in Kreuzberg near the Berlin Wall. From here, they supported the oppostion, smuggled books, films and manuscripts and reported on the events in the GDR. Görlitzer Straße / Lübbener Straße, Kreuzberg

  • 15. St. Elisabeth's Church

From the late 1980's on, St. Elisabeth's Church was the meeting point of the Church from Below, a critical network across the whole GDR. On 7 May 1989 an alliance was founded and coordinated here, which observed the local elections and revealed widespread electoral fraud. Invalidenstraße 3, Mitte

  • 16. Stasi Headquarters

This complex was the headquarters of the Ministry of State Security. On 15 January 1990 thousands of demonastrators stormed the Stasi offices to prevent files being destroyed and to force the closure of the secret police. Frankfurter Allee / Ruschestraße, Lichtenberg

  • 17. Permanent Representation

Many East Germans fled to the Permanent Representation of the Federal Republic of Germany, asking for help to leave the country. In August 1989 it had to be closed temporarily due to overcrowding. The singer-songwriter Wolf Biermann lived in the house on the opposite corner until he was expatriated in 1976.

  • 18. Alexanderplatz

Known as "Alex", this square was the site of the largest protest demonstration in the history of East Germany. On 4 November 1989 hundreds of thousands gathered here for a rally. The Berlin Wall fell only a few days later. Alexanderplatz, Mitte

Map of the Revolution Trail

Find out more about the Revolution Trail here.