This preview shows page 1. Sign up to view the full content.
Unformatted text preview: s occupied land where ornate buildings had once stood. One of the few successful factories, a
synthetic wool plant, blanketed Plauen in some of East Germany’s worst air pollution. According to historian John Connelly, the polluted air
helped give the city an “unusually low quality of life, even for GDR standards.”
On October 7, 1989, the first mass demonstration against East Germany’s Communist rulers took place in Plauen. Small, scattered protests
also occurred that day in Magdeberg, East Berlin, and other cities. The size of Plauen’s demonstration set it apart. More than one-quarter of
the city’s population suddenly took to the streets. The level of unrest greatly surprised local government officials. The Stasi (East Germany’s
secret police) had expected about four hundred people to appear in the town center that day, the fortieth anniversary of the GDR’s founding.
Instead, about twenty thousand people began to gather, despite dark skies and a steady drizzle. The demonstration had no leadership, no
organizers, no formal plan of action. It grew spontaneously, spreading through word of mouth.
View Full Document
- Spring '08