Tag Archives: German Unity Day

October 3rd, Germany celebrates “Tag der Deutschen Einheit” – The German National Day

Today Germany celebrates its National Day, the “Tag der deutschen Einheit” !

Today Germany commemorates the reunification of Germany. After WW II Germany got divided into East and West Germany. A fortified wall made sure that interaction between these two Germanys was limited and especially controlled .

Many Germans never believed that they would ever witness a unified Germany again, but November 9th, 1989 should catch them by surprise.

On this fateful day in history the East German government declared that all East Germans were free to go to the West and visit West Germany and West Berlin. Germany and the world went wild! Impactful, dramatic images of that day still captivate us today.

So why don’t we celebrate our German National Day on November 9th after all?

November 9th happens to be a day for a variety of  historical events in Germany, and not all were such that they should be honored or remembered positively on a day that shall celebrate the National day of Germany .

November 9th was the day on which the German republic was proclaimed in 1918, and it was also a November 9th when Hitler’s first coup in 1923 was defeated. This ominous date however also marks the anniversary of the Reichskristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass) in 1938, the day of the first large-scale Nazi-led pogroms against Jews.

November 9th therefore did not seem an appropriate date for the German National Day.

October 3rd was chosen instead since this was the day in 1990 when the formal reunification took place.

October 3rd replaced the date of June 17, which used to be the date for “The Day of German Unity” during the days of the BRD ( The Federal Republic of Germany).

Images: Pixabay.com

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John Kerry Issues Personalized Statement Touching On German Past For German Unity Day

 John Kerry and Merkel

Every October 3rd, Germany celebrates Unity Day, marking the peaceful unification that took place in Germany back in 1990 when the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) acceded to the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany).  It was an emotional time for people all around the world, but especially for those who had been separated from loved ones by the Berlin Wall.

US Secretary of State John Kerry issued a statement to commemorate the 24th anniversary, and in it revealed some personal stories of his ownexperiences growing up in Germany when his father “served in Berlin as a Foreign Service Officer after World War II”.  As a 12-year-old boy, Kerry picked up on the struggles of those living in the East Sector, leaving a lasting impression on what happens when there is such a divided nation.

We’ve included his full statement below for you to read:

On the Occasion of Germany’s National Day

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I am delighted to congratulate the people of Germany as you celebrate your Day of Unity.

This day holds a particularly special meaning for me. When my father served in Berlin as a Foreign Service Officer after World War II, I used to ride my bike all around the city. I would ride along the lakes, up and down the Kurfurstendamm, past the burned-out Reichstag. The War was still fresh on people’s minds.

I’ll never forget, as a 12-year-old boy, riding into the East Sector and seeing men and women with their heads turned down. There was no joy on those streets, but what I saw left a lasting impression on me. I saw a city deeply polarized, a people divided, a country rent by war.

I also learned an important lesson about the virtues of democracy and the binding ties that unite a people yearning to be free.

Following years of struggle, the German people made an historic choice that set their country on the path of unity. Today we celebrate the vision and courage of Germany’s leadership over the past two decades. We reflect on the fundamental values that we share, and we reaffirm our commitment to work together for a more peaceful, prosperous and secure world.

German unity is a model for nations that are struggling with political and social divisions, and we are especially grateful for your close cooperation in the Middle East and North Africa. Germany is also our largest trading partner in Europe, and we look forward to even more trade and investment that will create jobs – jobs for Germans, jobs for Americans, and jobs for all Europeans.

In the spirit of our partnership and the deep bonds of affection between our peoples, I wish you continued prosperity and a joyful Day of Unity.

Sources: US Department of State
Photo: State Department / Public Domain

Article Source: GermanPulse

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Germany Celebrates 22 Years of German Unity Day Today

German Unity Day is a national holiday in Germany, celebrated October 3rd, to commemorate the nation’s unification, when the Federal Republic of Germany and the Democratic Republic of Germany united to create one single federal Germany in 1990.

German reunification (Deutsche Wiedervereinigung) took place twice after 1945: first in 1957, when the Saarland was permitted to join the Federal Republic of Germany and again on October 3, 1990, when the five re-established states of the German Democratic Republic (GDR / East Germany) joined the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG / West Germany). Berlin was also united into a single city-state. It was at this point that the unification process was commonly referred to as die Wende (The Turning Point) by citizens of the GDR. Die Wende marks the change from socialism to democracy and capitalism in East Germany around the years 1989 and 1990. The end of the unification process is officially referred to as German Unity (Deutsche Einheit). There is some debate as to whether the events of 1990 should be properly referred to as a “reunification” or a “unification”.

Many say that the initial unification of Germany occurred on January 18, 1871 at the Versailles Palace’s Hall of Mirrors. Princes of the German states gathered there to proclaim Wilhelm of Prussia as Emperor of the German Empire.  Others feel that “reunification” is deeply affected by the November 9, 1989 opening of the Berlin Wall, when the checkpoints between the two countries were opened and people were allowed to travel freely. This date marked the “fall” of the Berlin wall and the physical reunification of the city of Berlin which had been divided since 1945. Others, however, argue that 1990 represented a “unification” of two German states into a larger entity.

For political and diplomatic reasons, West German politicians use the term “Deutsche Einheit”  (German unity) carefully avoided the term “reunification”. German unity is the term that Hans-Dietrich Genscher used in front of international journalists to correct them when they asked him about “reunification” in 1990.

On August 23rd, 1990, the new parliament of East Germany voted to approve accession with West Germany and the “Treaty of Unification” was signed by both countries’ leaders. Germany was officially united on October 3, 1990.  West Germany consisted of ten states, now referred to as the Old Länder, (Alte Bundesländer) plus West Berlin. The five New Länder states, re-established federal states of East Germany – Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia, which had been abolished by East Germany in 1952 – formally joined the Federal Republic of Germany. The Land Berlin is not considered one of the New Länder, since West Berlin expanded throughout the whole city resulting in the dissolution of East Berlin.

The Berlin wall and the Brandenburg Gate were two important symbols of Germany’s division following World War II and their unification in 1990. Images of the Brandenburg Gate and the Berlin wall’s destruction are often displayed on German Unity Day.

October 3rd is the official German national holiday, the Day of German Unity (Tag der Deutschen Einheit), commemorating the day that marks the unification of the former East and West Germany in 1990.  Unity Day celebrations are hosted each year by whichever of Germany’s 16 regional states holds the presidency in the upper house of parliament.

Photo by Peer Grimm via German Federal Archives
Article Source: German Pulse

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Germany on my Mind – An Immigrant’s Reflection on Germany

It’s the last day of October, the month, in which Germans celebrate their Tag der Deutschen Einheit, the Day of German Unity (October 3), our National Holiday. Throughout this month I have been reflecting on what Germany means to me now after 12 years of living in California. How do I feel about being a German in America or is it a German-American now that I have Dual Citizenship? What’s my perception towards Germany and German culture these days? Does Germany in fact mean more to me now than ever before?

An old friend of my father’s, who had immigrated to California as a student to pursue a medical degree, once had told me: “ I love California, but my heart belongs to Germany!”

These words didn’t make sense to me then and of course not at all when I had finally made my dream come true and made California my home as well. I honestly could not envision his words ever be true for me! Somehow though his words had made an impression and did stay with me after all. After more then a decade living here, I too feel somewhat emotionally torn between the two countries.

At first I was overwhelmed with the joy to finally have made my dream a reality. Everything America had to offer seemed just so much better, more exciting and one could simply breathe the freedom in the air.  Now, that being said, it’s not as if I hadn’t been free where I grew up. I was born in Munich, and spent my childhood in fact in a very beautiful part of the city, as I now (!) have learned to appreciate…

Leaving my teenage years behind, I increasingly felt like I would suffocate if I stayed any longer in Germany.  Let’s face it, German society per se can sometimes be a bit restrictive. Too much bureaucratic mind-set and not enough “out of the box” thinking. German heaviness of soul and mind and the praised virtue of a deep thinking society can sometimes also turn against itself… Add in some of the gloomy weather and cold dark winter days and you’ll have a nice cocktail that can get even the happiest minds depressed…

I always liked the politeness and friendliness of Californians – even though we were warned about it early on and were made understood that it might be superficial most of the time. But, hey, it seems to make life just so much easier and brighter!

Having spent all my summer vacations in California since the age 14, my heart was set on this part of the world. Every year during summer upon arriving at LAX, I remember experiencing this feeling of complete freedom that ran through me like a big breath of fresh air. To me, America was equivalent to an abundance of unknown possibilities and opportunities.

After my third child arrived, my husband and I were considering the idea of my becoming an American citizen. In a blended family like ours, with various citizenships under one roof, it seemed to be a calming thought to know that we all are united under one common nationality. Since becoming an American Citizen didn’t mean having to give up German citizenship anymore, I decided to apply for dual citizenship.

Oddly enough, change and patriotic awakening towards Germany came about with my becoming American! Reciting the American Pledge of Allegiance together with thousands of other new Americans in the LA coliseum, suddenly made me aware of my German nationality, made me aware of what this step of becoming an American meant to me personally but also to my own and my kids’ family history. It seems that through the process of becoming American, I found back to my somehow hidden German roots and since then witnessed the awakening of an until then unfamiliar patriotism, love and pride in my German heritage.

So, the question arises, what am I now? German American, American German or just a German in America? I guess I became someone who learned to embrace two different countries and cultures at the same time and call them ‘home’.  I feel deep love for both countries.  My father who was fascinated by America almost had made the big step to stay and settle, but it was up to me to finalize what he had started.  Shortly after his first true little American grandchild was born, my Dad passed away, almost as if he had felt that he had arrived at his dream as well.

I have to admit I am proud of having the privilege to be an American citizen and love my ‘new’ home where my own young family now lives. But I am now equally proud of my German heritage, of Germany’s scientific, technological and artistic accomplishments that have an effect on the world as a whole. And I am enjoying this feeling of love for my home country that I wasn’t aware of having in me before. I now can appreciate all the wonderful aspects and the beauty the country has to offer and I look forward to every visit with my American family.

Of course, I question whether it is perhaps just the romantic ideal of Germany that keeps me captivated? If I were to be asked today if I would move back to live in Germany, I must admit my answer would be no! California is my new home now, it is where my children were born and my family now lives. As I go on discovering how to be an American it is my ‘Germanness’ that keeps me grounded and gives me a sense of place in the world.