11. Demonstrations rocked East Berlin on June 17, 1953
Between dawn and mid-morning, thousands of protestors and demonstrators marched from East Berlin’s outlying neighborhoods to the city center. They used loudspeaker equipped vehicles to shout various protests, urge other citizens to join them, and communicate with each other. Messengers on bicycles ran between the various groups as they marched. Banners, posters, and statues dedicated to the SED, the Soviet Union, and the East German government were destroyed by the protesters. They carried banners deriding the SED, Ulbricht and other officials, and the Soviet Union. Among their chanted demands were those for free elections, lower prices, ending the work quotas, and others. As it had the day before, RIAS reported the activities and the progress of the protesters. By 9 AM approximately 25,000 demonstrators appeared before the House of Ministries (the seat of the East German Government).
Crowds of demonstrators appeared in other parts of the city, near Potsdamer Platz and Leipziger Platz. At the House of Ministries, some of the demonstrators entered the building. The more than 500 police and Stasi present to protect against that eventuality either withdrew or were overrun by the crowds. By 11 o’clock in the morning, it appeared evident the SED administration itself was being taken over by the protesters. In other areas of the city, German police clashed with the crowds, as the protests took over the appearance of a riot. By late morning it was evident the police presence had not only failed to deter gatherings but had placed the lives of policemen and government officials at risk. Shortly after 11 AM, Soviet troop carriers, supported by tanks, appeared in the city center. Without further orders to the crowds to disperse, the Soviets simply opened fire on them.