Browse Primary Sources

Telephone Call from Chancellor Helmut Kohl of the Federal Republic of Germany

In this telephone conversation between West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and U.S. President George H. W. Bush on October 23, 1989, the two leaders discuss the revolutionary events in Hungary, Poland, and East Germany.

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Bonn Embassy cable, The German Question and Reunification

As events in Eastern Europe and especially in East Germany continued to pick up the pace, speculation began to grow, both within the two Germanies and internationally, that German reunification was once again a topic for debate. The West European had already speculated that West Germany might abandon its commitment to NATO and the European Community in favor of reunification.

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Czechoslovak Ministry of Interior Memorandum, The Security Situation in the CSSR in the Period Before 28 October

October 28 holds a special place on the Czechoslovak political calendar because on that day the First Czechoslovak Republic was established in 1918. This liberal bourgeois state, symbolized by its founding father and President Tomas Garrigue Masaryk, was a powerful counter-example to socialist Czechoslovakia and a magnet for anti-communist protest.

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Memorandum of Conversation Between Egon Krenz, Secretary General of the Socialist Unity Party and Mikhail S. Gorbachev

The new Secretary General of East Germany, Egon Krenz, traveled to Moscow on November 1, 1989 to meet in person with Gorbachev and assess the situation in East Germany and discuss possible paths forward. Throughout the lengthy meeting, Krenz and Gorbachev spoke openly about the challenges that now faced the GDR.

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Soviet Record of Conversation between Mikhail Gorbachev and Egon Krenz

The new Secretary General of East Germany, Egon Krenz, traveled to Moscow on November 1, 1989 to meet in person with Gorbachev and assess the situation in East Germany and discuss possible paths forward. Throughout the lengthy meeting, Krenz and Gorbachev spoke openly about the challenges that now faced the GDR.

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Sofia Embassy Cable, Bulgarian Reportage of Krenz-Gorbachev Summit Stresses Unanimity, Stability, and Party Supremacy

On November 1, 1989, the new East German leader Egon Krenz traveled to Moscow for a summit meeting with Mikhail Gorbachev to discuss the mounting crisis in the GDR and seek a greater level of cooperation between the two states. The following excerpt is taken from a diplomatic cable sent from the U.S. Embassy in Sophia, Bulgaria and reports on how the summit was depicted in the Bulgarian press.

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Guenter Schabowski's Press Conference in the GDR International Press Center

Günther Schabowski, the spokesman for the East German Communist Party Politburo, played a vital role in the toppling of the East German Communist government in the fall of 1989.

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Verbal Message from Mikhail Gorbachev to Helmut Kohl

With the opening of the border between East and West Germany on November 9, 1989, jubilant crowds took to the streets in Berlin to celebrate this historic event. West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl was traveling in Poland when word reached him about the events in East Germany and he quickly rearranged his schedule so that he could make a public appearance the following day, on November 10.

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The Russian Revolution: The Problem of Dictatorship

In January 1988, dissidents in East Germany mounted a counter-demonstration during the annual parade honoring the lives of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht. Luxemburg and Liebknecht were both killed by right-wing Freikorps vigilantes during the 1919 January revolution.

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Excerpt from Freye Klier's Diary

Freya Klier was a leading theatrical director in East Germany. She and her husband, Stephan Krawczyk, were outspoken critics of the East German regime and were among the leading organizers of the counter-demonstration during the annual Liebknecht-Luxemburg parade in January 1988. This is an excerpt from Klier's diary in which she records the events of that day.

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