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Germany: Greens Celebrate 40th Anniversary in Berlin

It has been 40 years since the Green party’s foundation assembly in West Germany. In Berlin, Germany’s President Steinmeier and countless Green personalities from past and present celebrated the anniversary.

In the north-east of Berlin, hundreds of Greens and their guests got together on Friday. Fancy snacks and free drinks were consumed while today’s two leaders of the Green party, Annalena Baerbock and Robert Habeck talked about the past and the present.

Former Protest Party

Baerbock conceded she did not know parts of The Green’s history first hand because she had not been born yet in 1980, when it all had started. During her speech at the ‘Motorwerk’ venue, she thanked the pioneers, those who founded the party, those who argued, protested and managed to enter the Berlin Bundestag. “Diversity is our strength”, Annalena Baerbock said.

Rezzo Schlauch, a former Green floor leader at the Bundestag. was there. So was the party’s former superstar Joschka Fischer, who was Germany’s Foreign Minister. Hans-Christian Ströbele, the first Green politician who entered the Bundestag on a direct mandate he got in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district, came on crutches. He is 80 years old by now.

Today's Green party leader Annalena Baerbock is talking to Joschka Fischer, one of her predecessors.
Today’s Green party leader Annalena Baerbock is talking to Joschka Fischer, one of her predecessors. Photo: Imanuel Marcus

Quite a view party guests had been part of the party foundation assembly 40 years ago, when The Greens demanded an end to wasting water for flushing toilets and similar nonsense. They themselves admit they used to be an “anti-party party”, a protest party, a bunch of ecologists, feminists, communists and other left-wingers. Over time, they mutated into a party that does take responsibility and is part of 11 state governments in Germany. “Today, we do not only defend democracy on the streets, but in parliaments and governments as well”, Annalena Baerbock told the party guests.

President Steinmeier at Party

For their 40th anniversary party, The Greens had the highest guest anyone can have in Germany, namely the country’s President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. He is no stranger to the party, since the Social Democrat was former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s Chancellery Minister, the guy who pulled strings, when The Greens were the junior partner of his government coalition until 2005.

Steinmeier reminded the Greens that back then, in 1980, even the moderate daily ‘Süddeutsche Zeitung’ had said the idea that any federal government might depend on the Greens one day would cause “glaring nightmares”. Indeed it is safe to say the press was doubtful at first, when The Greens popped up, let alone the old political parties.

President Steinmeier shared a laugh with Habeck and Baerbock. Photo: Imanuel Marcus

After assuring them that singing the national anthem was not part of the protocol at the anniversary party in Berlin, Steinmeier congratulated both the Greens and the former East German movement ‘Bündnis 90’, which was founded thirty years ago. The Greens had changed the country and the country had changed the Greens, Steinmeier said.

Ecology Now Part of Politics

He conceded that, thanks to the Greens, ecology and sustainability were not only part of politics today, but had become one of its benchmarks too, even far beyond the Green party. The Greens had grown, Steinmeier stated, not only in the polls, but also “in their determination to take responsibility and to stand up for the nation of law and democracy.”

Related feature: Germany: Is it Easy to be Green?

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