Do you remember where you were at the German Reunification (German: Deutsche Wiedervereinigung) on October 3rd, 1990? No? Weren’t born yet? That’s OK, most folks around the world probably don’t remember where they were at that particular moment. But, for the millions of Germans living in East and West Germany, it was a watershed moment.
Oh, I’m sorry. At that particular time, there was no East and West Germany anymore; it was simply Germany once again.
Doesn’t sound like much to you? Of course it does, there were some who never thought the day would come.
There were also some who dreaded the day it would.
All right, that’s a valid point considering we know what Germany’s history was like during the early 20th century. So, it was with a bit of fear in the hearts of some European and other countries that Germany was again to be whole.
Some of Germany’s detractors spoke openly about the possibility that Germany was no longer half belonging to the Soviet Union, the other a democracy that flourished with western ways.
It was Britain’s Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir who where the most vocal.
And the road to Germany’s Reunification (I call it the Wirtschaftswunder Reloaded) was not an easy one, even with many of the country’s allies fighting in their corner.
Even the term “reunification” was argued. Some say it was simply unified, others say it was “reunified” because the country was once a whole country back in the days of the German Empire, thanks to the works and statesmanship of Otto von Bismarck.
Shucks, I keep getting ahead of myself. I get so excited thinking about the day this incredibly proud nation flew again under one flag.
For those of you who weren’t born (or too young) before there was only ONE Germany, you have to understand this division came from Germany losing World War II. Yet, Germany’s issue with world politics kind of went further back than that.
You see, Germany lost World War I; and the signing of the Treaty of Versailles pretty much crippled its military force. Unemployment rates were astronomical and reparations paid to the Allies for causing the whole ruckus was costing a fortune in the midst of a Great Depression; it was a country humiliated.
Of course, Adolf Hitler kind of changed things a bit when he no longer paid reparations to France and other countries, as well as rearming itself like it wasn’t supposed to do.
After six years of war Germany fell to the Allies, they in turn cut it up like it was a piece of pie; each looking to exploit the country for their own gain. I’m sorry to say it that way, but it is what it is. I mean, it was what it was.
Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein, Bremen, Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland, and Baden-Württemberg went on to be occupied by “Western” countries (England, France, and the United States), making the Federal Republic of Germany.
It wasn’t just Germany as a whole country that was sliced; the amazing capital city of Berlin was divided. The Soviets went so far as to build the infamous Berlin Wall in 1961 (sixteen years after the end of the war).
Throughout the next two decades, East and West Germany went on about its daily business; even actually becoming an economic powerhouse (again).
By the late 1980’s the Communists’ system was faltering; and the door to Germany’s reunification came after Hungary slashed a hole in the “Iron Curtain.” By November 1989, the Berlin Wall was about to sold in pieces for posterity, and people could cross unimpeded for the first time in almost three decades.
Just about six months later both the East and West Germans agreed on economic union, with the Deutsche Mark taking over as the currency for the East German one. That was only part of the agreement, although the Soviets did remove their nuclear weapons from the country beforehand.
Throughout the rest of the year, negotiations took place to bring Germany back together. Legislation eventually passed through both East and West, which allowed West Germany to meld the now former East Germany into itself, effective at midnight local time on October 3, 1990 (I went to Berlin that night!).
At this precise moment, it forever became known as Tag der deutschen Einheit, the Day of German Unity.
Of course, you can have all of Germany’s many festivals (including Oktoberfest — ohh, I can’t believe I just said that) and other cultural activities throughout the year; but I like to be here on October 3rd for this national holiday; a day I’ll remember forever (even if you don’t). ;-)