The Alexander Platz, East Berlin's main square, was filled with cars parked by East Germans who had traveled from all parts of the country to visit West Germany. "The wall and the West are big attractions for us," said Andreas Suhm, 27, a metal worker from Leipzig. "Everyone wants a piece of the wall as a souvenir."
Also in East Berlin yesterday, the East German legislature approved a 28- member cabinet proposed by Premier Hans Modrow. The vote in the 500-member chamber included five negative votes and six abstentions.
Party leader Egon Krenz immediately swore in the new cabinet.
There was a festive air yesterday in West Berlin, where a number of stores are now decorated with Christmas motifs. Traditional booths selling Christmas tree ornaments were opened near the Europa Center in the main shopping district and became a major attraction for visiting East Germans.
The buying spree in the West was being fueled largely by the 100-mark ''greeting money" handed each first-time visitor. But many visitors, who had run through that money, were exchanging their East German marks for West German deutsche marks at a rate of 20-1, although East Germany says that the currencies are equal.
Uta Nickel, East Germany's newly appointed minister for Finance and Prices, said yesterday that she planned to introduce unspecified measures soon "to protect our currency against speculation."
At a news conference yesterday, she said many East Germans, especially those living in border areas, might now seek to work in the West, and return home to buy up scarce consumer goods with money exchanged on the black market.
Gregor Gysi, president of East Germany's bar association, has called for revoking the travel permits of those caught working in the black market in the West.
The East Germans flooding into the West vastly outnumbered those who gathered in downtown Leipzig yesterday to call for free elections and an end to the communist party's central role in politics. The rally was sponsored by the opposition group New Forum.
One banner in the crowd - estimated at 50,000 by the East German news agency, ADN, but appearing to be no more than 15,000 - said the government was ''laughing because the people are drunk with travel freedom."
The Rev. Michael Turek, a leading member of New Forum in Leipzig, said the group had considered calling off the rally because so many people were eager to visit the West during the weekend.
But he said he was pleased with the turnout: "It's quite a few people, considering the timing."
At the rally, Jochen Laessig, one of the group's spokesmen, urged the crowd not to permit the new government of Modrow to decree "change from the top down."
Another speaker, Juergen Tallig, urged East Germans who have fled to the West - 200,000 this year - to come home.
Several banners in the crowd called for German reunification. "Socialism has failed, we want our country back together again," said a man holding a banner that said, "With our hearts and minds, we want to unify our German fatherland."
"Many, many people here favor reunification," said Lutz Kaufmann, a railroad worker, who included himself in that number. In some East German towns, such as Weixdorf, a suburb of Dresden, banners urging reunification are displayed on public streets.
"Such talk is premature," said the Rev. Martin Steinhaeuser, who was standing near Kaufmann. "It will cause more fear than hope."