Peaceful Revolution

The Peaceful Revolution (German: Friedliche Revolution) was the process of sociopolitical change that led to the opening of East Germany's borders with the west, the end of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED) in the German Democratic Republic (GDR or East Germany) and the transition to a parliamentary democracy, which enabled the reunification of Germany in October 1990. This happened through non-violent initiatives and demonstrations. This period of change is referred to in German as Die Wende (German pronunciation: [diː ˈvɛndə], "the turning point").

Berlin Wall falls at the Brandenburg Gate, 10 November 1989

These events were closely linked to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's decision to abandon Soviet hegemony in Eastern Europe as well as the reformist movements that spread through Eastern Bloc countries. In addition to the Soviet Union's shift in foreign policy, the GDR's lack of competitiveness in the global market, as well as its sharply rising national debt, hastened the destabilization of the SED's one-party state.

Those driving the reform process within the GDR included intellectuals and church figures who had been in underground opposition for several years, people attempting to flee the country, and peaceful demonstrators who were no longer willing to yield to the threat of violence and repression.

Because of its hostile response to the reforms implemented within its "socialist brother lands", the SED leadership was already increasingly isolated within the Eastern Bloc when it permitted the opening of the border at the Berlin Wall on 9 November 1989. Through a change in leadership and a willingness to negotiate, the SED attempted to win back the political initiative, but control of the situation increasingly lay with the West German government under Chancellor Helmut Kohl.

From December 1989, the GDR government of Prime Minister Hans Modrow was influenced by the Central Round Table, which put into action the dissolution of the Stasi and prepared free elections. After an election win for a coalition of parties that supported German reunification, the political path within the GDR was clear.


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