Berlin Embassy Cable, GDR Crisis: The Honecker Era Fades Quickly
In this excerpt of a diplomatic cable from the U.S. Embassy in Berlin, we see the first official analysis of East Germany's new leader Egon Krenz, who replaced Erich Honecker on October 18, 1989. In the summary remarks, the embassy officials make clear that Krenz is attempting immediate reform, but not yet on a scale that could be compared to Gorbachev's perestroika.
The U.S. diplomats saw Krenz's decision to meet with the leadership of the East German Protestant church as a significant and positive step. Throughout the late 1980s, the East German Protestant church played a significant role cultivating and sheltering the leading figures of the popular opposition. The church officials used this initial meeting with Krenz to plea for immediate reform on social issues and Krenz responded that he had personally traveled to Leipzig on October 9, 1989, in order to prevent a confrontation between the armed police and the demonstrators - what Erich Honecker had been referring to openly as the "Chinese solution."
Berlin Embassy to U.S. Secretary of State, "GDR Crisis: The Honecker Era Fades Quickly," 20 October 1989, Cold War International History Project, Documents and Papers, CWIHP (accessed May 14, 2008).