Christians in eastern Germany have launched a campaign to mark the 20th anniversary of the peaceful revolution that overthrew communism.
The Ecumenical Assembly that gathered delegates from all East Germany’s main churches in April 1989 met less than six months before the country was engulfed in its autumn revolution. Despite still having strict communist rule, the assembly demanded, among other things, secret ballots for elections, freedom of opinion and freedom to travel, and the right to form independent associations.
This was the “writing on the wall” that East Germany’s communist rulers refused to recognise, said Bishop Christoph Kähler of the Evangelical Church in Central Germany. “That meant the end of their regime, through a peaceful revolution,” he said. “People took burning candles onto the street and voiced their protests and demands.”
East Germany’s 1989 peaceful uprising has sometimes been dubbed a “Protestant revolution” because of the prominent role played by church members, and the street demonstrations that followed packed prayer meetings for peace and change. The protests paved the way for the fall of the Berlin Wall and the unification of Germany in 1990.
Communist party politburo member Horst Sindermann is reputed to have lamented after being deposed, “We were prepared for everything, but not candles and prayers.” (ENI)