The story of the reunification of Germany.
Ursula Grosser Dixon
During the summer of 1990 I was watching Scola, on the satellite, a broadcast for learning and international understanding, originating from Omaha, Nebraska. Different nations took turns, each lasting 30 minutes, to broadcast their news. When West Germany came on, all I could see on the screen was a date in large numbers: 3.10.1990. Then the announcer explained that after an all-night meeting with the government in East Berlin an agreement had been reached. The two countries, East and West Germany would re-unite on this day. Germany would be whole again.
During the months following the collapse of the Berlin wall, Chancellor Kohl in Bonn had apparently worked tirelessly towards unification. It was in my opinion the right thing to do, trying not to lose momentum. If Germany was ever to be re-united, now was the time. The people of East Germany were at loose ends. There were many meetings with the Western Allies as well as with the Russian government. It was obvious from news reports that every one’s approval was needed. Documents were signed at much publicised meetings, they all reached the agreement for Germany to be re-united. The only thing left was to hammer out an accord with the government of East Germany. In this all-night session in East Berlin they agreed on the date of October 3, 1990.
Having been there when my homeland had been torn asunder, I wanted to be there when the country once again became one. When I heard the date, I immediately booked my flight home with British Airways for October 1, 1990. On the flight from London to Berlin the pilot congratulated all German passengers on the coming event. Many businessmen from England, the United States and other countries flew to Berlin just to be there on this historical day. I know this, because I heard them talking in the plane from London. I arrived in Berlin-Tegel on the morning of October 2. My cousin Karl Grosser and his wife were at the airport to meet me. When we got to Berlin-Staaken, my cousin’s home, as tired as I was from the over night flight from Canada, I went to see the remnants of the now defunct wall, which had divided West Berlin from East Germany, as Staaken was the most western suburb of West Berlin. Ten months had passed since the wall fell, but I had only seen it on television from far away. Now I was walking on the former death strip, looking at abandoned guard towers, saying over and over again "I can’t believe it."
Around supper time I went to bed, but three hours later my cousin's wife Renate shook me awake "Get up, it’s time to celebrate." Still sleepy I got up and we got ready to go and join in the celebrations. When we went outside and around the corner, I could hardly believe what I saw. In a few short hours merchants had set up stands along both sides of the street called Torweg. They sold sausages, hamburgers, beer, beer and more beer. I saw signs reading: Peace cocktails ala Gorbi and ala Bush. By 10 PM thousands of people were in the streets, singing, laughing, crying, waving German and Berliner flags, and strangers from East and Wesr were hugging each other.
My cousin had planned to take us all to the Reichstag in the center of the city, where the official ceremonies would take place at midnight. The police in Staaken told us it would be impossible to get near the Reichstag, so we decided to stay in Staaken, celebrating with the people there in the streets. Shortly before midnight we all went back to my cousin’s house to watch the ceremonies with Chancelor Kohl and many other dignitaries on television. At the stroke of midnight the freedom bell at the Rathaus Schoeneberg began to ring, and church bells throughout the land followed suit. (It was at this city hall in Berlin-Schoeneberg, the seat of the Lord Mayor of the city of West Berlin, where on June 26, 1963 President Kennedy had told the largest crowd of people ever assembled on their own in all of Berlin’s colorful history "Ich bin ein Berliner."
When the police orchestra played the German anthem "Unity and Right and Freedom for the German Fatherland", I completely lost my composure, having promised myself not to do so. It was very quiet in the living room and when I looked around I saw tears in the eyes of every one, young and old. The mood was somber, I could sense everyone’s emotions reflecting the dreadful past and the uncertain future.
Some one said "Let’s go outside and watch the fire works." We could not see too much of it, as the Reichstag was too far away from us. By now people were singing the anthem in the streets, a lot of them waving their flag. As tired as I was, I have never enjoyed a celebration more in my life time. I talked to dozens of strangers, and I even lifted my paper cup filled with champagne and made a toast over the microphone of the disco band, which had been playing all throughout the evening on the former border strip. The festivities lasted until early morning.THE DAY OF RE-UNIFICATION.
Although the day had started at midnight, I would like to set the day apart from the festivities of the previous night. The third day of October became on this day a national holiday. From Spandau, where we left the car at the city hall parking lot, we took the subway towards the center of the city. The stop nearest the Reichstag and the Brandenburg Gate is called "Unter den Linden." When we got up to the street, thousands of people were moving slowly towards the Brandenburg Gate. On reaching the Gate, I saw that it was newly decorated with artistic stone work, displaying different eras in German history. Suddenly I was blinded by tears, until then I had not realized that we had been crossing through the Brandenburg Gate from EAST to west. A few minutes later we saw the Reichstag. There in front of the old imposing building flattered the largest flag in black, red and gold I had ever seen. All the flags from the different parts of Germany, from the Bundeslaender, old and new, were weaving in the mild October breeze. Camera crews from around the globe were there, with their cameras mounted high up on tall cranes. We spent the afternoon in the vicinity of the Reichstag, then slowly we made our way to the city transit, taking the train back to Spandau. Back in Staaken we watched a Philharmonic concert on television that night. We enjoyed a beautiful medley of classical music by well-known composers of the past. It was the end of an incredible day.
Germany was re-united, Berlin once again its capital. I love the land I have chosen, but the love for one’s homeland surpasses all new affiliations one makes during one’s life time. At least, that's the way it is for me. On my way back to Canada a month later, I remember thinking how very glad I was that I had come home for this historical occasion, and how thankful I was that I had lived to see this day.
There would be many problems in the years to come. A nation divided for decades under completely opposing political systems will have to learn to live and work together all over again. This will take time, but I have no doubts at all that in the years to come they will find their way, not only in a united Germany, but in a peaceful, united Europe.