Berlin Embassy Cable, GDR Political Crisis: Still Deepening. October 6, 1989
The level of unrest in East Germany had been increasing throughout the summer of 1989 and a major focal point of concern for both the East German security forces and international observers concerned the very prominent visit of Mikhail Gorbachev to attend the GDR's 40th anniversary celebrations. This cable sheds light not only on the events leading up to Gorbachev's visit, but also on the West's ability to comprehend the scale of protest that was already afoot.
While cognizant that there was a real potential for mass demonstrations in the GDR, the U.S. embassy officials continued to operate under the assumption that although Erich Honecker might be on his way out, the ruling SED was not going anywhere. Instead, the communique describes the situation in Berlin as "politically pregnant, not physically explosive" and addresses the potential difficulty finding a reform-minded replacement and speculate that Gorbachev (who was not originally scheduled to attend the anniversary celebrations) might have altered his plans in order to directly influence any attempt to purge the SED of young reformers.
Nonetheless, the embassy also reported that with or without reform, there was definitely signs that further turmoil was on the horizon for the aging SED leadership.
U.S. Embassy Berlin to U.S. Secretary of State, "The GDR Political Crisis: Still Deepening," 6 October 1989, Cold War International History Project, Documents and Papers, CWIHP (accessed May 14, 2008).