• On October 9, 70,000 protesters in the East German city of Leipzig shout, “We are the people.”
  • On November 4, over 1 million people in East Berlin demand democracy and free elections. The GDR government resigns on November 7.
  • On November 9, East German border police open the Berlin Wall. Some 1 million persons per day visit West Berlin. More than 200,000 East Germans (Übersiedler) move to West Germany. Between 1989 and 1993, 1.4 million East Germans migrate to the West.
  • East Germany deports some 60 percent of its 90,000 foreign contract workers (mainly from Vietnam, Angola, and Mozambique).
  • Haus der Kulturen der Welt (House of World Cultures) opens in the former Congress Hall in Berlin. The new organization is dedicated to the promotion of intercultural understanding.


  • Some 4.5 million foreigners live in West Germany, accounting for 7.3 percent of the population.
  • The number of ethnic Germans leaving Eastern Europe to settle in West Germany continues to rise: 202,645 come in 1988.
  • Roughly 60,000 contract workers from North Vietnam and other communist countries such as Angola and Mozambique enter East Germany.


  • Horst Hoheisel’s Gegenmonument Aschrottfountain is unveiled in Kassel. This monument was constructed on the site of the original Aschrottfountain which was erected in 1908 by Sigmund Aschrott and destroyed in 1939 by the Nazis. Horst Hoheisel reconstructed the fountain underground as a “negative form,” an anti-monument.


  • East Germany signs an accord with China for contract workers.
  • The Monument against Fascism by Jochen Gerz and Esther Shalev-Gerz unveiled in Hamburg. The artists invited the citizens to inscribe this 12-meter tall with their signatures and comments on fascism. Gradually, the column was lowered into the ground so that the parts inscribed would be buried and a new surface become available for additional public comments. Eventually the column carrying a variety of statements on Fascism was buried entirely.


  • Mikhail Gorbachev, the new general secretary of the Soviet Communist Party introduces his political platform of perestroika and glasnost, which allows ethnic Germans to emigrate.
  • Civil war in Sri Lanka brings large numbers of Tamil refugees to West Germany for political asylum.
  • Some 31,000 Iranian political refugees, fleeing the Iran-Iraq War (1980–88), seek asylum. They follow the first wave of highly educated Iranian refugees after Ayatollah Khomeini’s Islamic revolution of 1979.
  • The Adelbert von Chamisso Prize, a prize for the best literary work by an author whose first language is not German, is conferred for the first time. Aras Ören is the first recipient.
  • On December 21st in Hamburg, Ramazan Avci, a 26-year-old Turkish immigrant, is attacked and beaten to death by a group of right-wing skinheads.