What is a leaderless revolution

"Unique, leaderless revolution"

On June 17 - in contrast to October 3 - there would be something to talk about: "About a" unique, leaderless workers' uprising that turned into a democratic mass movement in a matter of hours. "In addition, Baring noted, smart countries hold their national holiday the summer, so partying is more fun.

In essence, however, Baring argues politically rather than meteorologically, "June 17th has a special pathos because it has turned from a workers' protest into a popular movement." July 20, the day of the unsuccessful assassination attempt in 1944 by Claus Graf Schenk von Stauffenberg on Hitler is less suitable, "because it was an elite uprising. It is more difficult to convey."

Baring sketched the events around June 17, 1953 in East Berlin from the almost 50 listeners. The trigger was the increase in labor standards for the construction workers. Before that, however, the GDR had forced the building of socialism, which led to frustration and flight. "Peasants and craftsmen were expropriated and the Christians were increasingly suppressed." In addition, the Soviet dictator Stalin had previously ordered military armament. All of this would have led to enormous economic difficulties and a bad mood in the GDR.

When, after Stalin's death in March 1953, the Soviets wanted to loosen the reins, but the SED leadership under Walter Ulbricht did not really pull along, the barrel overflowed. The construction workers took to the streets for the first time on June 16, 1953. "They were generally ready to take high risks. They were used to it because they were always fired in autumn and had to fight for their existence every winter," explained the historian. The "completely unplanned uprising" began on Stalin-Allee, the prestige project of the GDR superiors, says Baring.

The call of a general strike by workers in East Berlin was just as spontaneous. This news spread throughout the country's large factories. Hundreds of thousands - mostly workers, young people and women - protested in the streets on June 17, 1953. "They called for free elections, the rule of law and reunification." However, Soviet tanks and the lack of coordination of the movement quickly ended the revolution.

"Still, I think June 17th is the most uplifting event in our history," says the 77-year-old professor. "The day anticipated the events of 1989." It is an ideal day of remembrance, also because the Germans "can get a positive relationship with themselves. And a philanthropic self-image is not only important for the individual, but also for peoples."

Baring received applause from the audience when he emphasized that the "failed twelve years of the Nazi era" would forever remain an eyesore, but should never be the basis of our identity.