12. Simultaneous uprisings occurred throughout East Germany
The RIAS broadcasts and word of mouth communications ensured cities and towns in the GDR were aware of events as they transpired. More than 120 similar demonstrations took place in the GDR on June 17. Strikes occurred in over 330 factories and industrial sites. An estimated 225,000 workers walked off their jobs and demonstrated in cities including Leipzig, Potsdam, Magdeburg, and others. In the industrialized region around Halle more than 100,000 strikers protested against the SED and the East German government. Soviet troops moved to disperse the crowds, showing considerably more restraint than they had in Berlin. Some violence took place, often against party-owned businesses and shops. Incidents of arson and looting were reported in several cities and towns. In agricultural areas, some farmers withdrew from the collective farms in protest. Soviet troops largely ignored the farmers.
Demands from the protesters varied. Many wanted free elections, others the restoration of the Social Democratic Party. The party had merged with the German Communist Party to form the SED under Soviet pressure in 1946. Others protested against the work quotas, rising prices for consumer goods, and the shortages of food. In several communities, demonstrators demanded the release of political prisoners. Some jails were seized by protesters. Local SED functionaries fled from the crowds as word spread they were to be jailed, or worse. The protests which began on June 17, roiled the GDR for the next several days, as the Soviets and SED officials struggled to bring the country under control and restore calm. Little word of events in East Berlin reached the rest of East Germany during that period. Having crushed the demonstrations in Berlin, the Soviets imposed martial law on the city by noon on June 17.