Germany 2009 Part III

Germany 2009 Part III

5: The dam burst

On November 9, 1989, the dam burst. Politburo member Schabowski chatted – apparently due to confusion in the state leadership – when he at a press conference broadcast live on television to answer questions about exit rights. He interpreted the text on a note he had brought with him – after having been heavily beaten on the blade – as meaning that departure should apply without conditions – and with immediate effect. The time was 18.53.

Unbelievers and elated people quickly flocked to border crossings in Berlin. Without clear orders, the border guards allowed them to pass freely through the Wall and over to the west. And even more importantly: the 450,000 Soviet soldiers who were then stationed in the GDR kept quiet in their barracks.

6: Not up to Germans alone

The people’s autumn in the GDR quickly became world politics. Shared Germany was the victors’ solution to the centuries-old “German problem” – the question of how to unite a united, large Germany in the middle of Europe with a peaceful European order. At the same time, it was the very core of the post-war bipolar , international system, where two competing social systems faced each other.

A unification of the two German states could not be left to the Germans alone, but had to involve the four victorious powers of World War II – the Soviet Union, the United States, Britain and France – which still occupied the formal supreme authority in Berlin and “Germany as a whole”. Skilled and compromising politicians in the period after the fall of the Wall found a solution that all parties involved could accept.

Within the framework of so-called “2 + 4 negotiations” , the two German states were left with the responsibility of finding a solution on whether – and if so how – they should merge two fundamentally different political, economic and administrative systems into one state. In the GDR now followed an internal settlement with the secret police Stasi in the winter of 1990, the first and last free elections in the GDR in the spring of 1990 and the abandonment of the GDR’s own currency (Ostmark) on July 1, 1990. It all culminated in the dissolution of the GDR state and a accession to the Federal Republic of Germany on 3 October 1990 .

Foreign policy aspects of German unity – Germany’s international commitments, including NATO and EU membership, future state borders and military capabilities – were negotiated with the four World War II victorious powers. On October 1, 1990, they relinquished their four-power rights over “Berlin and Germany as a whole”, and for the first time since Germany’s unconditional capitulation on May 8, 1945, the country was once again a fully sovereign state . On October 3, 1990, Germany celebrated its formal unity – and it has since marked Germany’s National Day .

7: Status 20 years later

20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, it is barely visible in the cityscape of Berlin. The exception is the kilometer-long outdoor museum Eastside Gallery. Yet there is an invisible dividing line between East and West both in Berlin and throughout the country – the wall in their heads: what is left in people’s minds after 40 years of separate life that consists not only of more or less well-founded prejudices and prejudice towards «the others », But also from a very different background of experience and real economic inequality. Even today, different expectations for the future are reflected in the fact that many more people are still moving from east to west in Germany, than vice versa.

With the fall of the Wall came, as in the wake of most revolutions, freedom, but not automatic equality or brotherhood! For some East Germans, even freedom has been difficult to bear. Because with freedom comes responsibility for one’s own life. In the GDR, childhood, adolescence, adulthood and old age were organized by the various organizations of the Communist Party. And if you did not engage in illegal political activity, but conducted your work and stayed out of politics, you could retire to your “private niche” and live relatively well. The standard of living was low compared to life in the West, but high compared to other countries in the East. The labor-intensive East German industry ensured work for all. Among other things, the state secured a free kindergarten place for everyone, not least because the children had to be brought up in the Party’s true faith and the parents participate in working life.

Although some opinion polls show that this invisible Wall appears weaker in new generations, it affects families’ history, self-understanding and economic conditions. And children born to West or East German parents will continue to have different starting positions for many years to come. In West Germany, a country located in Europe according to, the post-war generation from the 1950s Wirtschaftswunder (economic miracle) transfers saved funds, property and fortunes to children and grandchildren. These are the few forunt in the old GDR, where private property rights and fortunes were non-existent. Even the party leaders had their fortunes linked to the privileges of the office.

The vast majority in the east do not want to return to the GDR, even if a certain (n-) ostalgia appears from time to time. However, many feel that the joint German state could have been a little more cautious with the “legacy of the GDR”. Today, there are few traces of the GDR in the joint German political system beyond the party Die Linke.

Germans celebrate the magical year 1989

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