Patrick Bauer was born in 1983. He grew up in Berlin, where he also began a career in journalism. In 2006, he joined the staff of NEON magazine, becoming its editor in 2012. He is now a contributor to SZ Magazin based in Munich, where he also lives.
THE DREAM IS OVER. BUT WE’RE GOING TO DO WHAT WE CAN TO MAKE IT A REALITY.
The dates of 9 October and 9 November have been etched into the collective memory of the events of late 1989. But 4 November is often overlooked. On this day hundreds of thousands demonstrated on Berlin’s Alexanderplatz. The idea for the march came a month earlier when hundreds of artists, actors, writers and musicians met in the Deutsche Theater. To cheers and applause the actor Jutta Wachowiak shouted, “Let’s go onto the streets!”
And they did. The list of speakers at the rally contained 26 names, a previously unthinkable mix that included members of the political opposition, artists, supporters of the old system and party cadres. Speaking that day were writers Christa Wolf and Stefan Heyn as well as actors Ulrich Mühe und Jan Josef Liefers, but also Party members such as Gregor Gysi and Lothar Bisky, while the marchers included ex-Stasi general Markus Wolf and politburo member Günter Schabowski. Some were trying to save what they could, others made demands that suddenly seemed realistic for the first time. Much seemed possible.
Demonstrators demanded freedom of the press, the freedom to travel and free elections. But they were silent on one issue: the reunification of the two German states. “Everyone behaved as though they were in love,” remembers Marianne Birthler of the moment when a people regained its voice. A new GDR seemed a real possibility. But after the fall of the Berlin Wall and during the anarchic months that followed, this unlikely community melted away.
Patrick Bauer has reconstructed a fascinating panorama based on the memories, reflections, stories and thoughts of those involved, building a compelling account of a fateful day in German history that has been unjustly forgotten.