As West Germany was reorganised and gained independence from its occupiers, the German Democratic Republic was established in East Germany in 1949. The creation of the two states solidified the 1945 division of Germany.  On 10 March 1952, (in what would become known as the " Stalin Note ") Stalin put forth a proposal to reunify Germany with a policy of neutrality, with no conditions on economic policies and with guarantees for "the rights of man and basic freedoms, including freedom of speech, press, religious persuasion, political conviction, and assembly" and free activity of democratic parties and organizations.  This was turned down; reunification was not a priority for the leadership of West Germany, and the NATO powers declined the proposal, asserting that Germany should be able to join NATO and that such a negotiation with the Soviet Union would be seen as a capitulation. There have been several debates about whether a real chance for reunification had been missed in 1952.
As the crowd made its way towards the city's century-old train station -- accompanied by thousands of helmeted riot police -- tension grew. But at the decisive moment, the police stood aside and let the protesters march by. "They didn't attack," Fuehrer says. "They had nothing to attack for." Organizers made sure the crowds gave the police no excuses. They carried nothing but candles and banners reading "We are the people." The Stasi planted plainclothes officers in the crowd to cause trouble, but they were all quickly surrounded and neutralized by protesters chanting "no violence."