Published On: Thu, Oct 3rd, 2019

German Unity Day: What happened in Germany on October 3, 1990? | World | News

Germans celebrate one of the most important holidays in recent history today – the reunification of their country. October 3 is an annual public holiday named Unity Day, a day marked by modest national celebrations. Unity Day celebrates when Germany ceased to be two countries and will see most Germans outside in the autumn weather with a pint and a picnic. While many enjoy the festivities, however, others emphasise there is still work to be done.

What happened on October 3, 1990?

Germany is one of the most historically rich countries in Europe, with a storied past stretching back to 750BC.

The country has, however, had a fractious relationship with the rest of the continent, and following World War Two, was divided at its centre.

Germany’s new inhabitants were the former Allies, the Communist-led German Democratic Republic in the East and the Anglo-American Federal Republic in the West.

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Dividing them was the infamous ‘Berlin wall’ in the nation’s capital, which would eventually serve as a symbol of unity.

By October 1989, the Communist regime was faltering on the edge of collapse, and people were left increasingly discontented with the East German leadership.

Some 150,000 people took to the streets of East Germany in protest, followed by 500,000 more one month later.

On November 9, malcontented East German citizens burst through the Berlin wall, signifying the end of the ‘iron curtain’ which had plagued Europe for more than 40 years.

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Although Germany was no longer physically divided on November 9, Germany would not officially unify for nearly another year.

West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl took advantage of euphoria in the city following the wall’s destruction, convincing French, British and Soviet authorities it was time for Germany to reunify.

He was ultimately successful, and the East German Volksskammer (Parliament) rectified a resolution joining the German Democratic Republic to the Federal Republic of Germany.

The treaty was effective from October 3, 1990, and Germany officially reunited.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel delivered a speech today, where she determined Germany was still in the “process” of reunifying.

She said: “Germany unity is not a state of affairs that is wrapped up and completed just once, but rather a continual process — a constant mission that affects all Germans.

“Individual freedom cannot be had without individual responsibility.”

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier concurred, saying reunification “remains unfinished”, adding: “It challenges us, it demands something from us.”

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