13. Fighting in Berlin continued throughout the day on June 17
The Soviets, later joined by the East German police, opened fire on the demonstrators in the late morning. They then moved methodically through the city, pushing back the crowds before their advance. Tanks used machine guns against the demonstrators, firing into crowds and buildings. The demonstrators fought back, though they had little chance of stopping the Soviet tanks. Those trapped and forced to surrender went into Soviet and Stasi custody. Suspected ringleaders from the labor unions were arrested, and some summarily shot. Some Soviet soldiers refused orders to fire into the crowds. They too were arrested, at least 21 shot by Soviet or German operatives. Their bodies were placed in an unmarked mass grave near Magdeburg, where they were discovered in 1994. Likely executed by SMERSH, a Soviet counterintelligence agency, they had been tortured prior to death.
As the fighting between the East Berliners and the Soviets began to die down that night, Stasi and Soviet agents implemented mass arrests. Estimates of over 10,000 arrests in East Berlin alone are deemed by some scholars as low. The Soviets imposed martial law. They established roadblocks and barriers preventing entering or leaving East Berlin and shut down all public transportation. Railroads, buses, and trams all shut down. The Soviets clamped down, preventing nearly all transit between East and West Berlin, and similar methods were used in other East German cities. Soviet military leaders downplayed the level of violence used quashing the demonstrations, which they referred to as “insurgencies”. By June 24th, Berlin appeared relatively calm. Though there was no longer violence in the streets, the protests against the government were far from over.