Leipziger Herbst – The Peaceful Revolution of 1989

Photo Exhibition at the GHI
September 17, 2009 – December 18, 2009

"Monday Demonstration" on Martin Luther Ring, November 20, 1989
"Monday Demonstration" on Martin Luther Ring, November 20, 1989

The events that unfolded in Berlin in the late evening hours of November 9, 1989, are well known throughout the world. The Berlin Wall, the most tangible symbol of Europe’s postwar division, fell overnight. Thousands of East Germans streamed over the border into West Berlin; across the city, people rejoiced, reunited. These picture-perfect scenes were captured in countless photographs that now form part of our historical memory. 

But the fall of the Wall was just one step in a long struggle for human rights and civil liberties in the German Democratic Republic. In the months leading up to that November night, the most forceful call for political change had come not from the capital of East Berlin but rather from the city of Leipzig. Over the course of that fall – now known as the Leipziger Herbst (or “Leipzig Fall”) – citizens from all walks of life took to the streets every Monday evening to demand freedom and democracy.

Organized in conjunction with the Stadtgeschichtliches Museum, Leipzig, this exhibition features little-known photographs of those now famous “Monday Demonstrations” (Montagsdemonstrationen). During this 20th anniversary season, when so many eyes are focused on Berlin, these photographs provide a fuller account of the peaceful revolution that brought down the Communist regime by putting Leipzig at center stage.

Kelly McCullough (GHI)