On November 9th, 1989, the Berlin Wall fell. Less than a year later, on October 3rd, 1990, Germany’s reunification took place. Another thirty-two years later, on Monday, Unity Day will be celebrated in Erfurt.
Berlin, October 2nd, 2022 (The Berlin Spectator) — To Germans who already lived when the Berlin Wall fell and Germany was finally reunited, it feels like it happened yesterday. But, in reality, it happened more than three decades ago, meaning Germans who are 60 years old have lived in the reunited Federal Republic of Germany longer than in former West Germany or in the communist GDR.
Return to Erfurt
Three decades ago, there were those who wanted a national holiday on November 9th, the day the Wall fell. But since the Night of Broken Glass, the Nazi’s November Pogrom, happened on this date as well, 61 years earlier, it had to be October 3rd instead, the date on which Germany officially became one in 1990. Every year, Unity Day is celebrated in a different federal state. In 2004, it was Erfurt’s turn. Since Germany has only sixteen federal states, Unity Day returned to the Thuringian capital this year.
First Minister Bodo Ramelow is expecting prominent guests. On Sunday, President Frank Walter Steinmeier will be there. So will some of Ramelow’s colleagues, including Berlin’s Governing Mayor Franziska Giffey. She is scheduled to take part in the official ceremony that will mark the 32nd anniversary of the reunification.
“Germany’s unity was a great gift for all of us”, Franziska Giffey stated ahead of the big day. “Because of a lucky break caused by the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall, our country, Europe and the entire world changed for the better. The end of the confrontation of blocs brought decades of peaceful developments which have advanced our society.”
Due to today’s international situation, the achievements needed to be protected, the Governing Mayor continued. A renationalization and a return to confrontation had to be prevented, she said. In this situation, with the war in Ukraine going on, Germany was trying to protect its jobs, its economy and the prosperity that had been hard-earned in the past decades, especially in the area of former East Germany. Franziska Giffey stated nothing would divide “us”, neither nationalism in parts of Europe nor Russia’s war.
On Monday, Unity Day will commence with an ecumenical prayer service at Erfurt Cathedral. Later, the main ceremony will be taking place at the Erfurt Theater. Franziska Giffey will be taking part in both events before she heads over to the Berlin Cube. Each federal state has been presenting itself in Erfurt since Saturday. Berlin set up its Cube on Petersberg, at the Erfurt Citadel.