Cracks Widen: East Germany D+16 (25 July, 1987) Part I

Word of the Pelkwitz incident reached the halls of the East German government early in the evening of D+15. The initial arrival came in the form of an unsubstantiated rumor with scant details passed between junior-ranking officials at the MND (Ministry of National Defense). It wasn’t until an hour past midnight that the news eventually made its way to the State Security Service (SSD or Stasi). The MND had been given the gift of a head start. This factor would prove to be crucial to events which followed.

The news continued to spread even though solid information remained elusive. By now it was approaching midnight, a time when NATO warplanes were especially active over East Germany. Communications were normally unreliable in the period of time between midnight and dawn and today was no exception. The poor state of the GDRs national communications network, combined with the effectiveness of NATO jamming and other electronic weapons, essentially shut down telecommunications across the nation. While American, British, and West German bombs fell on airbases and railheads from Magdeburg to Cottbus, government sedans were screaming down the avenues of blacked out East Berlin and clandestine meetings were being held in various residences and offices.

Heinz Kessler, the GDRs Minister of Defense was the first government official to receive a full and accurate report on what had taken place at Pelkwitz. He wasted no time in devising a way to turn the situation to his advantage. He spent the first hour of D+16 preparing the battlefield, so to speak. Kessler wanted his pieces arrayed properly on the gameboard before approaching Erich Honecker, East Germany’s longtime leader. The minister dispatched trusted aides to brief select politburo and National Defense Council members.

Kessler also sent officers to a host of military installations outside of the city to confer with unit commanders, and their Soviet liaisons. The Soviet officers were taken aside and told that all GDR military units were in the process of being ordered to halt in place or return to their installations. No reason was given for the move. In reality, no such orders had been transmitted. There was no way for the Soviets to know this though, and by the time communications inevitably improve later in the morning, Kessler hoped to have valid orders to that effect sent out. 

Pelkwitz was a landmine. If the Stasi were allowed to get the jump on Kessler, they’d use it to discredit him, his ministry and gain more control over the government. He could not allow that scenario to become reality. Not when the GDR was embroiled in a war for its very survival. A war that had already cost the nation thousands of lives, both civilian and military. In these times it should men in uniform guiding government policy and decisions, not the glorified Gestapo that was the SSD. 

Author’s Note: Shorter post than usual, but I’ll make up for it later in the week. The next entry will be a continuation of internal events in East Germany on D+16, (Thursday) followed by a similar entry covering Poland (Friday or Saturday). Then next week I think we’ll be ready to dive into the Central Front D+16. Cannot wait! 😊 – Mike

16 Replies to “Cracks Widen: East Germany D+16 (25 July, 1987) Part I”

  1. Long held plans being given a chance to happen? Or last minute conscious/morality attack?

    Strange that it was Pelkwitz but then… what lights a fuse for an insurrection can come out of left field.

    The GDR is/was Russia’s most reliable ally in the WP though there was always doubts as to exactly how much reliability there was throughout both the Military and the GDR Government. Interesting you have this piece.

    Decidedly plausible.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I had friends back in ’89 who were stationed in Berlin working for no-special activity and when all the crowds started gathering in the streets they were all put on lockdown because we didn’t know if the NVA or the GSovG were gonna roll tanks through the fences and put a stop to all that foolishness. Sure would be a different world now if they had.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I know… That folding happened far faster than I thought it would…. at the time anyway. Now that I’m a bit older and more well read, it should NOT have been as much as a surprise to either NATO or the Soviets. In the latter’s case… their shock at the house of cards they were and how much countries tripped over themselves to leave the Pact… kinda boggles the mind.

    Treat them like shit/fodder, they will leave when opportunity presents and they think they can survive the leaving. Allies through subjugation/force are not allies….

    Liked by 2 people

  4. yeah well what did you expect the east Germans communist party had lost faith in Honecker weeks before it all fell apart they wanted Egon Krenz to replace him but out of loyalty he was waiting for him to die but it started to unravel fast nothing Krenz or Hans Modrow could do when Gunter schabowski gave away the keys to the berlin wall to the people after that there was no stopping the flood that started in all the other county’s

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, they waited a little too long in replacing Honecker. Not that it would’ve made a big difference, the collapse was coming one way or another.


    1. Pete! I was wondering where you dropped off to. Glad to see you back. You know, your blog also fell off my feed, I just went and looked. I have to catch up with you as well

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Dunno what happened with WordPress, gremlins in the works probably. I really liked the book reviews/ battles you did- IU’ve read a good chunk of them but there are a couple I’m going to look up.



        Liked by 1 person

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