#mauerfall30: Leipzig’s montagdemonstrationen

Another town I went to during my trip to Germany this summer was the beautiful, and for me the mysterious, town of Leipzig.  Like Dresden, this town too was part of the German Democratic Republic.  The town has amazing architecture, and the long corridors and arcades with shops and cafés inside the old buildings were beautiful.  Some of the newer buildings around the train station are covered in fantastic murals that light up the town with their glorious colors.  Every corner of Leipzig seems to be brimming with history – either from the Soviet era days or prior.  Composers Johann Sebastian Bach, Richard Wagner, and Felix Mendelssohn all called Leipzig home, and the town center opera house stands in testament to the city’s musical past.  German writer Goethe wrote his famous Faust in Leipzig.

Leipzig played a prominent, though often overlooked, role in bringing down the Berlin Wall and dismantling the German Democratic Republic.  The church stands in the center of a cobblestone square and was built in 1165 with the gothic tower being added in the 1600s.  Every Monday, in the autumn of 1989, the Nikolaikirche, or the St. Nicholas Church hosted a prayer meeting that was followed by peaceful, candlelit protests for democracy and justice.  

For three months in the autumn of 1989, on every Monday, ordinary East Germans, religious and the not so religious, young and old, gathered in front of the church and demonstrated peacefully. On Monday, October 9, 1989 over 70,000 protesters gathered peacefully, and, and the number swelled to an even greater 120,000 the following Monday.  Not one gun was fired, and these peaceful demonstrations became the DDR’s swan song.  One month after the first major demonstration in Leipzig, the Berlin Wall came down.  A simple white palm topped column in the middle of the square commemorates the peaceful demonstrations.

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