The Fall of the Wall
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Monday, 15. January 1990


According to the West German Ministry of the Interior, in the first two weeks of the new year alone, 20,818 East Germans have reported to West German authorities that they wish to remain in the West for good. At the same time, Bavaria's Minister of Social Welfare, Glück, says that emigrants from East Germany will no longer receive compensation for property or household items left behind. An East German regulation now permits emigrants complete control of the property they leave, so there is no longer any pressure to surrender one's assets.

During the seventh session of the Round Table, the government reports on the status of the dismantling of the state security service. The comprehensive system of mail and telephone surveillance has been shut down. Of 85,000 employees, 1,052 were active in telephone surveillance and 2,100 in jail surveillance. Five thousand worked in surveillance and investigation.

Last year, 3.6 billion marks (1.3% of the budget) were set aside for the Stasi. Thirty thousand former Stasi employees have been dismissed since the dissolution of the service; an additional 22,500 persons will be integrated into the economy, health service, army and police. Of the remaining 32,500 people, 20,000 will be dismissed in the immediate future. Twelve thousand five hundred employees are to be kept on until the final transfer of Stasi buildings to the state.

The citizens' committees that are overseeing the dismantling of the Stasi contradict this presentation. To their knowledge, for example, the Stasi headquarters in Berlin is still completely functional. Because the central office has its own structures throughout East Germany, it would be possible to reorganize the service, even though it is otherwise subject to extensive supervision. For this reason, the citizens' committees urge that Stasi buildings be supervised by the police and civic groups, and that the public prosecutor seal all offices, as has happened in local administrations.

Around 5 p.m., following New Forum's appeal, several thousand people gather at the former Ministry for State Security on Ruschestrasse in the Lichtenberg district of Berlin to protest the secret service's continuing operation. One entryway is symbolically walled shut, although members of the citizens' committee are meanwhile negotiating with Stasi officers inside for a peaceful transfer. There are loud protests and drumming on the gates, which are suddenly opened from within. Roughly 2,000 demonstrators thereupon push their way into the building; they are directed toward the supply section, which is then partially destroyed. Files and pictures of Honecker fly out of the shattered windows, and fire extinguishers are emptied. In a dramatic appeal this evening, the government calls upon the public to remain calm »in this difficult hour.« The young democracy is in »great danger,« according to a declaration for which East German television interrupts its programming. Shortly before 7 p.m., Prime Minister Modrow, who has hurried there from the Round Table, urges the outraged crowd by loudspeaker to remain calm. Members of New Forum finally take the initiative, blocking the entryways and holding up signs reading »No violence.« After an hour or so, the intruders slowly leave the building.