A violent and somewhat mysterious clash here Friday night between scores of police and hundreds of youths at an outdoor pop music concert has left a trail of disturbing questions for East German authorities.
The outbreak of violence was nothing like the worker unprising here in 1953, which brought about political changes, or even the widespread unrest felt when the Berlin Wall went up in 1961 or when Czechoslovakia was invaded by the Warsaw Pact in 1968.
Indeed, heavy beer drinking may help explain a large part of the Friday night fighting.
Nevertheless, the pop concert melee was probably the most serious public outbreak of violence here in many years and it is being viewed as especially troubling for the East German Communist government precisely because it was young people - and not workers of an older generation - who were fighting the police.
"This country is literally designed for young people," said one East Berlin resident, "not for the olderones. It is part of the central policy to raise new generations in a post-war Communist state that no longer can compare things to how they were before the war. So what happened the other night is disturbing. Maybe the picture the government has of our young people is wrong."
"Some of it was just too much beer," says a West European resident here. "The Russians are here of course," he added, "but they are pretty isolated. So it wasn't really a political demonstration but it was loaded with political implications.
"It was really frustration," added an East Berliner, "a response to the distrustfulness with which the government treats them. They don't see the Russians but they see the Wall. They feel they live in a dull, boring world that they can't get out of. Maybe it's just beer courage, but it came out.
A precise account of what actually did happen here remains elusive because of the difficulty in finding firsthand witnesses. It appears, however, that initial reports that suggested that the clash was a spontaneous anti-Soviet outburst were overstated.
Those reports were based on statements by some persons leaving the scene that corwds were sohouting "Russians out!"
A number of sources here say, however, that such remarks were limited only to a small group of intoxicated youths who also were shouting "Russians go home!" in English.
Some persons interviewed here today said these remarks may have been inspired most by the fact that a Russian band was permitted to continue playing while an East German rock group was cut off so police could get through a crowd, estimated at some 1,000 persons, to reach the scene of an accident.
The concert was held in the vast Alexanderplatz, a showcase square in the center of East Berlin, at the end of day-long festivities marking the 28th anniversary of the founding of the German Democratic Republic.
Several youths reportedly fell through a ventilation shaft near the mammoth TV tower in the square. When police first pushed through the crowds and police reinforcements group reportedly encircled the police.
An Asian Communist diplomat who and began battling with them. Then crowds to try to rescue them, a small swarmed about each other. [TEXT OMITTED FROM SOURCE]was on the fringe of the crowd said police were especially harsh on the youths and a Reuter news agency report from here today quotes well-informed sources as saying that one policeman was stabbed to death in the melee and another clubbed to death with a beer crate, while one teenage girl died in the fall into the shaft. The Foreign Ministry later described these reports as false but gave no further information.
It was also reported by Reuter that some 200 persons were injured in the fracas and several hundred detained overnight by police in a tunnel that runs under the square.
Other incidents of rebellious youth have been reported, one last summer in the Pankow district of East Berlin in which a few hundred youths allegedly burned their blue-and-yellow shirts of the East German Youth League. West German correspondents based in East Berlin, however, say they had not heard of that incident.
The East German government has taken a low profile in trying to deal publicly with the Friday night clash. The following day the official news agency ADN said only that a number of "rowdies" had obstructed police rescue efforts. Authorities have announced no deaths.
Foreign diplomats here say the episode is the major topic of conversation throughout East Berlin's diplomatic enclave, especially among officials from Communist countries.