German Unity Day – learn English with Berlin Translate

German Unity Day – learn English with Berlin Translate

The Day of German Unity is a German national holiday, celebrated on October 3rd since 1990 as an anniversary of the nation’s reunification. It is the only statutory national holiday in Germany; all the other holidays are administered by individual states.

Before 1990, the Federal Republic of Germany celebrated their national day on June 17th and the German Democratic Republic, on October 7th. The Day of German Unity is widely celebrated in Germany.

But why have Germans agreed to celebrate their national holiday on 3rd October?

 Didn’t the Berlin Wall fall on November 9th? Yes. However, shortly after the fall of the Wall, it took almost a year to deal with the consequences of the reunification of Germany which depended primarily on the good will of the Allies, which included the Russians, the Americans, the British and the French. On October 3rd 1990, in the course of a historic gathering of the Bundestag in Bonn, the members of parliament agreed that East Germany would join the Federal Republic. The German Reunification was now in full swing. Since then, the national day has been celebrated on October 3rd.

The history of the German Reunification involved a series of unexpected events, strokes of luck, and the will of each individual to put an end to an oppressive regime, without a bloodshed. The “peaceful revolution” of the GDR is a good example of what would await us in Europe in just a few years’ time – the people’s aversion, the complete lack of trust for their leaders, the wish to live in dignity; all of which drove the residents of the GDR to settle peacefully in the cities, a process which lasted for months.

Another stroke of good fortune – at that moment – was the fact that the Soviet Union was being governed at the time by Mikhail Gorbatchev, who wished for a peaceful Europe and did not share the intentions of his successors. Francois Mitterand, who was initially opposed to the idea of an even more powerful Germany in the heart of Europe, gave in as well.

The most incredible stroke of luck, however, was the press conference organised by Günther Schabowski, a member of the committee of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED), which took place in the evening of 9th November 1989. He announced the decision of the party to allow the residents of East Germany to spend their holiday in the West. When a journalist asked him whether the law would come into effect immediately, Schabowski, taken aback by the question, answered without reserve: “In my opinion, yes. The new law comes into effect instantly”. Just a few moments later, millions of residents of East Germany gathered at the checkpoints and shouted “Open the borders, open the borders!”. The East German police, completely unprepared for the situation, attempted, in vain, to hold back the masses which remained calm despite the excitement. Finally, as another lucky coincidence, the officer in command made the decision to open the borders, in order to avoid a massacre. Had the officer decided to open fire on the masses, the revolution would have been abruptly stopped.

After the opening of the borders, the German nation found itself in a fever-like state. All the possible suggestions resounded and after a year of negotiations, everything was prepared for the official reunification on October 3rd, 1990.

Since then, Germany has been striving after normality that it could not achieve in the previous 24 years. The difference in the standard of living in the former GDR and in the Federal Republic remains substantial and the rural regions in the former GDR are becoming deserted. Unemployment, cultural differences, a catastrophic economy in the “new” states and the beneficiaries of the Western forces taking advantage of the lack of experience of East Germany in capitalism caused many residents of the East to wish to return to the good old days of the GDR.

Those disadvantaged the most after the reunification come from the generation which grew up in the GDR in the forties, who find it hard to adapt to the new system which does not care for its individuals. However, Rome wasn’t built in a day either! The young generations, for whom the German reunification is just a page in the history book, do not distinguish between the East and the West anymore and this is good news. We might need another 24 years before the two parts of Germany meet as equals again but this can be achieved with patience and good will.