Lichtfest Leipzig

In September 1989 I was five years old. I was probably learning to write my name or count. A long way away, a group of people were gathering on Monday evenings at the Nikolaikirche in Leipzig. They prayed for an end to the control and intimidation that governed their daily lives and expressed their wishes for a democratically elected government. By September several thousand people were attending these gatherings. Many were arrested and violence was used. Leipzig newspapers raised the possibility of a “Chinese solution” to the Monday demonstrations. Threats were made.

On Monday October 9th, 1989 Leipzig was hosting one of its historic trade fairs, western media had been allowed to enter for the occasion. Beds had been prepared in hospitals. Thousands of armed agents took up their places on Leipzig’s streets, waiting for the command to suppress the protest by force. Violence and fear are powerful weapons, but this time they failed to stop 70 000 people from gathering together, vigilant in their determination to remain peaceful and have their voices heard. As the demonstrators moved along the ring road with candles in their hands, the police refrained from using their heavy armoury. The message was out, the damage was done, the days of the GDR were numbered.

On Saturday night our little party joined 40 000 Leipzigers in this same place for the “Festival of Lights”, a time for Leipzig to stop and remember the events of October 9th 1989. Though the speeches were beyond our limited German, the music and lights were lovely to behold. As the laser beams danced around the buildings and candles burned in people’s hands, I had time to reflect on what an enormous risk the citizens of Leipzig took in leaving their homes that evening, trusting that their cause was just and their peaceful actions could be powerful. I can’t help but wonder, would I have gone to pray that night? Would I have taken my child as many of them did to show their peaceful intentions? Would I have been as brave as they?

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2 Responses to “Lichtfest Leipzig”


  1. 1 lesley October 12, 2010 at 2:24 am

    What a wonderful thing – a little party from Oz – standing beside these precious people as they remember and give thanks. God bless the people of Leipzig – lots of love

  2. 2 Arthur October 12, 2010 at 10:33 am

    Some wonderful photos there Ally and so glad you could all participate in such an emotional and uplifting ceremony. Let me assure you – you could count and write your name well before you were five!!
    Love Dad


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A girl with a camera, a toddler and a sewing machine. Making sense of Germany... and life in general.

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