Celebrating 20 years of German Reunification
Gala event at the German Embassy
On 3rd October 2010, Germany celebrates its 20th anniversary of German Unity. On this day, Germany remembers the unification of the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic, i.e. West and East Germany.
To commemorate this momentous occasion, the German Ambassador to India Thomas Matussek is hosting a reception on 1st October. Around 2,000 high-profile guests are expected, including political dignitaries, business leaders, media and celebrities from various other fields. David McAllister, the Chief Minister of the German State of Lower Saxony who is in India for a week-long visit, will be the Guest of Honour at this event. McAllister is accompanied by a 50-member top-level delegation representing Lower Saxony's business and industry, science and media. Chairman of Volkswagen Martin Winterkorn, who is spart of the delegation, will be amongst the guests at the reception.
Emphasising the virtue of freedom, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in an interview, “Due to its size, its position, its history and its economic power, united Germany has a great responsibility. The world expects us to take a stand. For us Germans - after everything we experienced in the 20th century - there can be just one bottom line: freedom and human rights.”
Highlighting the importance of this day, Germany's Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said, “The 20th anniversary of German Unity gives us an opportunity to look back and be thankful – that the path to a unified Germany turned out to be so unexpectedly straightforward and was travelled so fast. We are grateful to our Western and Eastern partners for this. Indeed we will never forget the support and sympathy they demonstrated during our unification process.”
The Guest of Honour at this year's celebrations at the German Embassy, David McAllister said, “India followed the process of German unification sympathetically, and gave its support. There is a long tradition of cordial relations between our countries.”
The Foreign Minister Westerwelle also added in his statement, “20 years after German Unity, it remains our task to make the world a more peaceful and pleasant place in which to live. German foreign policy is peace policy. We are facing numerous challenges that we in our globalised world can only tackle together. Disarmament, climate change, energy supply and demographic development are only a few of the major issues Europe and the world must address in the future.”
On 9th November 1989 the Berlin Wall fell. In free and secret elections held on 18th March 1990, the people of the GDR elected a new People's Chamber (parliament), which on 23rd August 1990 voted in favour of the accession of the GDR to the Federal Republic of Germany in accordance with Article 23 of the Basic Law (old version). This step had been preceded by the establishment of a Monetary, Economic and Social Union as of 1st July 1990 and the conclusion of the negotiations on the Treaty between the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic on the Establishment of German Unity (Unification Treaty).
Under the Unification Treaty it was agreed that the GDR would accede to the territory of application of the Basic Law with effect from 3rd October 1990; at the same time, this day was designated a public holiday known as the Day of German Unity.
At midnight on 3rd October 1990 the flag of German unification was hoisted for the first time on Platz der Republik in front of the Reichstag building in Berlin. In keeping with the federal principle, it was agreed between the heads of government of the Länder (states) and the Federation that the festivities on 3rd October would be organised each year by the given Land holding the presidency of the Bundesrat (the representative body of the Länder) at that time. Through this arrangement, each Land was to be afforded the opportunity to organise a national celebration from its own perspective and on its own overall responsibility.