The celebrations for the 40th anniversary of the GDR on October 7, 1989 included a military parade, which was also attended by Mikhail Gorbachev, pictured here next to Erich Honecker in the VIP gallery. The state-sponsored festivities could not hide the fact that the regime was rapidly crumbling at this point. Beginning in the summer of 1989, tens of thousands of East Germans had fled to West German embassies in Budapest, Prague, Warsaw, and to West Germany’s permanent representation in East Berlin. Other East Germans began calling for democratic reforms, gathering for large and peaceful demonstrations all over the country. During his visit, Gorbachev urged the SED regime to pursue reforms with the phrase: “Life itself will punish us if we stay behind.”

Honecker and Gorbachev Watch the Parade in Honor of the 40th Anniversary of the GDR (October 7, 1989)


Source: A parade of honor by the National People’s Army kicked off the festivities on October 7, 1989. On the grandstands along Karl-Marx-Allee were, among others, Mikhail Gorbachev, General Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU and Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, Erich Honecker, General Secretary of the Central Committee of the SED and Chairman of the Council of State of the GDR. Photo: Rainer Mittelstädt. BA Bild 183-1989-1007-028.

© Bundesarchiv