In 1989, the East German state rapidly collapsed in the face of mass street protests demanding human rights. For decades, the ruling Socialist Unity Party (SED) defended its position of power with the heavy hand of the secret police (Stasi), and controlled the movement of the population with lethal force at the Berlin Wall. The peaceful transition to democracy in East Germany is often attributed to the innate power of human rights, but the revolution in 1989 required more than just ideas. From below, activists worked for years to create a diverse coalition for reform using human rights as an umbrella to, for example, reform everyday problems such as environmental degradation or the inability to travel to see family members in the West. Dissidents were even able to win over the lower ranks of the SED regime and other disillusioned elites who were increasingly confronted with the failures of “real existing socialism” and wanted to save the system through radical reform. The opening of the Berlin Wall in 1989 was the result of social organizing in the name of human rights, not just the inevitable triumph of a self-evident truth.