Eight months after the Berlin Wall came down, Deutsche Bank returned to Eastern Germany. Our bank was founded in Berlin in 1870, but Soviet forces had closed all our branches in their zone of occupation following World War II.

Those who remember the heady days of 1989 in Europe will recall a breathtakingly fast pace of change. The chain of events in Eastern Europe seemed like a volcanic eruption of citizens and governments—an eruption that would change the contours of the continent in ways many had hoped for, but few expected in their lifetimes. In retrospect, it was in large measure set in motion by ordinary citizens who changed the course of history. The ripples of those days are still being felt today—a quarter of a century later.

How has German unity impacted the U.S. in terms of its policies and its expectations of Germany as part of that evolving Europe in which it has become so critically important? How have the following years impacted the shaping of U.S. foreign policy, its goals, and its application? What expectations emerged about the global role of the U.S. and our expectations of a unified Germany? The questions above are the ones on which AICGS has asked commentators in this series to reflect upon as the 25th anniversary of the unification of Germany approaches on October 3. They are all significant questions but, given the space constraints, I would like to limit this brief comment to one particular aspect on which I have some modest expertise: the extensive overlap between the process that yielded German unification and the process that yielded expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Taken as a whole, the 25 years following the fall of the Berlin Wall have in the West been an unquestioned success. Two parts of Germany merged hostile systems without drama or dangerous economic strain. To ensure that nationalism will not be reborn, the former Western Europe of the European Communities has expanded into a continent-wide Union of 28 democratic nations, some of which had not known true freedom in their entire histories.

AICGS is pleased to present this collection of essays reflecting on the 25th anniversary of German unification in October 2015. We are grateful to those who have contributed to this collection, all of whom have been affiliated with and supported the Institute in many different capacities. These essays leave us with thoughts not only about …Read More

Germany, united: In 1989, the people of Berlin celebrated the collapse of the Berlin Wall after over 40 years of division. A breathtaking year later, Germany stood on the international stage as a unified country embarking on a new journey to rediscover and redefine its role in international relations.

It seems so normal now. A unified Germany, as one of many; admittedly, the primus inter pares. The divided history is so distant, so last century. Its reunification is, perhaps, the world’s biggest geopolitical miracle of the past half century. When we speak about the euro, NATO, energy, politics, sports, climate matters, whatever, we speak about Germany. The impression is that this is the way it has always been. One Germany. Firmly embedded in NATO and the EU and the West. Never in doubt.

AICGS is pleased to present this collection of essays reflecting on the 25th anniversary of German unification in October 2015. We are grateful to those who have contributed to this collection, all of whom have been affiliated with and supported the Institute in many different capacities. These essays leave us with thoughts not only about …Read More

When German reunification happened in 1990, this fortunate turn of events corresponded strongly with the way the United States viewed the world. The right side had won, history had taken a good turn, and freedom had prevailed after a long standoff with the forces of oppression.

Twenty-five years ago, in October 1990, Germany achieved its unification. The Berlin Wall had been accidentally opened only the prior November. Events moved so quickly that they seemed pre-ordained. But were they? What lessons might we learn?

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