Anniversary of the popular uprising
60 years ago, one million people in the eastern part of then divided Germany demonstrated against the Communist dictatorship with a popular uprising.
The popular uprising in 1953 began as a social protest and soon developed into a political demonstration: the mass call for freedom, democracy and German unity in the early summer of 1953 was taken into the streets of former East Germany. Eight years after the end of “Third Reich”, East Germans rebelled against the regime installed by the Soviet occupation. Soldiers and tanks of the Soviet Army finally crushed the spontaneous anti-Stalinist uprising on 17 June.
Previously, protests by construction workers in East Berlin had given a signal for a popular uprising which, within a few hours, encompassed the entire GDR. Approximately one million people in more than 700 cities and towns took to the streets, stormed prisons and disarmed police.
An exhibition of the Federal Foundation for the Reappraisal of the SED Dictatorship focuses on this first protest movement in the former Soviet bloc. It is entitled Wir wollen freie Menschen sein (i.e., We want to be free human beings) and is being shown on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the uprising at various places, including the Ministry of Finance in Berlin. No site is better suited as a venue than the latter. The former “House of Ministries” was the target of tens of thousands of protesters.
The exhibition, which can be seen at hundreds of places in Germany alone, tells the small stories of the uprising and thus comes closer to the historical events, in the view of critics, than does any grand thesis. The Federal Foundation for the Reappraisal of the SED Dictatorship is also showing the exhibition abroad in German, English, Albanian, Russian and Arabic.
Anniversary of the popular uprising against the GDR regime on 17 June
Exhibition: Wir wollen freie Menschen sein (i.e., We want to be free human beings) to the end of August on the grounds of the Ministry of Finance in Berlin and at many other places in Germany