EAST BERLIN, OCT. 8 -- Security forces attacked a candlelight march of about 1,000 demonstrators today and beat young people demanding political reform, only a day after breaking up the largest anti-government protests in East Germany since 1953. When police ordered the protesters to leave a street near a church that has been a center for pro-reform groups, the crowd shouted "We are the people!" Security forces began to pull protesters away from the march and hit them on the head with truncheons as other demonstrators chanted "No violence," and residents threw raw eggs at police who were trying to block part of the street. Tonight's clashes came hours after East Germany's hard-line Communist leadership called Saturday's nationwide demonstrations the work of "hooligans" incited by the Western press. With hundreds of protesters already in jail, dissident leaders said they feared a more severe crackdown. Saturday's demonstrations in East Berlin, Leipzig, Potsdam, Dresden, Karl-Marx-Stadt and several other cities around the country were the biggest here since the Soviet Union sent in tanks to crush an anti-Communist workers' uprising in 1953. According to dissident leaders, they could be the first major event in a protracted struggle with 77-year-old East German leader Erich Honecker. Spokesmen at East Berlin's Gethsemane Evangelical Church, which has been a sanctuary for people campaigning for political reforms and is located near the site of tonight's action, said around 700 people were arrested and 100 injured in clashes with the police and secret service here Saturday night and early this morning. Police used riot clubs, tear gas, dogs and water cannons on the protesters in the various cities, and chased some into buildings and alleys to beat them. Camera crews were beaten, film was confiscated, and one British reporter was arrested and held for several hours before being forced to leave for West Berlin. Police even arrested middle-aged couples and families with children who were on the fringes of the rallies. Around 5,000 people took part in Saturday's largely spontaneous demonstration near East Berlin's Alexanderplatz, mocking this week's 40th anniversary celebrations with slogans such as "Happy Birthday, Police State!" The crowd, which started in the hundreds, grew larger as young people shouted to residents in nearby tenements to "Come down here. It's now or never!" This morning, leaders of New Forum, the Initiative Group for Peace and Human Rights, Democracy Now and other pro-reform groups said they supported the decisions of tens of thousands of East Germans who have left the country in recent weeks, but that they planned to stay and wage a non-violent campaign against the Honecker government for political reform. A group of around 50 pro-democracy activists in Schwante, outside East Berlin, announced today that they had formed a Social Democratic Party, the first here since the Social Democrats were forcibly "united" with the Communist Party in 1946. The activists called for full democratization and the separation of the state from Communist Party dominance. New Forum, which has been outlawed by the government, met in the Church of Salvation here the other day and issued a declaration demanding open and free elections supervised by the United Nations. Political demonstrations have become almost commonplace under the more reformist governments of Hungary, Poland and the Soviet Union, but until this weekend, such scenes of open defiance on the streets of East Berlin and other East German cities were unimaginable. Hundreds of reporters were here this weekend for Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's meetings with Honecker. But protest leaders said they feared an even more severe crackdown once the media left. Nearly all the journalists' visas were to expire today, and officials were refusing to extend them. Authorities also continued to turn away hundreds of Westerners wanting to enter East Berlin through nine checkpoints. Hundreds of police and plainclothes men in East Berlin sealed off the Alexanderplatz today and patrolled outside important churches. Tonight's violence began after demonstrators had gathered at the Gethsemane Church to pray for political prisoners. Earlier, Jens Reich, one of the key leaders of New Forum, said in an interview that he was hoping there would be no further violence and that he was confident the dissident movement could force reforms despite Honecker's insistence Saturday that he would "follow the present course." "I can't imagine that the government won't compromise now," Reich said. Speaking of the pro-democracy movement in China, which was suppressed by the army, Reich said, "I just hope the solutions here will be better." Werner Fischer, a leader of the Initiative for Peace and Human Rights, said, "The rallies have raised peoples' consciousness, and I think we will see even more civil disobedience, possibly even strikes. No one can help us. Only we can help ourselves." Although protest leaders see Gorbachev as a symbol of change in the communist world, they said the Kremlin leader's trip here was not the critical factor in the rallies, despite the chants of "Gorby! Gorby! Help us!" They said they expected little help from him. Almost 50,000 East Germans have fled to West Germany through Hungary and Czechoslovakia in the past month, an exodus that has humiliated the Honecker government. But many demonstrators here wore patches reading "Ich Bleibe," or "I'm Staying." "My biggest fear is that the government will force us to leave the country," said Ilona Streer, a 41-year-old artist who has participated in a hunger strik.