The banner carried by these East German demonstrations in the autumn of 1989 reads, "Improve Politics--only with the new government." Describe the historical background of this protest. A.)Explain the meaning of this slogan. B.) What are the demonstrators protesting against?
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The slogan is a reflection of the frustrations felt by much of the population of East Germany during the closing days of the Cold War. After four decades of repressive Communist Party rule, and with pro-democracy demonstrations breaking out throughout the Soviet Bloc, the government of East Germany sought to allay the concerns of the public while maintaining its hold on power. Long-time party leader Erich Honecker (the East German Communist Party actually went by the name of Socialist Unity Party of Germany) recognized the futility of trying to remain the nation's unelected leader, even with the continued support of his patrons in the Soviet Union. He was replaced by Egon Krenz, who sought to put a more conciliatory, liberal face to the government. As communist regimes fell throughout Eastern Europe, however, the East German populace was in no mood for what it believed would amount to 'window dressing' as opposed to genuine revolutionary transition. Demonstrators hoisted banners stating "Improve Politics -- Only With the New Government," meaning, the political situation in East Germany would only improve with an entirely new democratically-elected government and not just with a more moderate version of the old hard-line communist regime. The demonstrators, who had spent their lives looking across the barriers at the freedoms enjoyed by their brethren in West Germany, wanted a revolutionary change, and that is what they eventually received, including unification between the two Germanys.
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