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Episode 02: The Wall: Legacy of Divided Berlin

When the Berlin Wall fell on November 9, 1989, it was a surprise to many. For an entire generation, the Berlin Wall was the most iconic physical manifestation of the …

The Berlin Wall: Limits and Legacies of Divisions

Fifty-seven years ago this week, the most tangible symbol of the Cold War started to emerge in the morning hours of August 13. As the East German government stretched barbed …

Guenter Schabowski, East German who announced Berlin Wall opening, dies

Guenter Schabowski, a senior East German official whose cryptic announcement that the communist country was opening its fortified border precipitated the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, died Nov. …

German Unification and European Security

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).

Lessons of German Unification

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?

United Germany at 25

When Germany’s leaders gather on October 3 for the 25th anniversary of German unification, they will celebrate the progress they have made in integrating the eastern and western parts of the country and will likely also speak of the work still to be done in the ongoing process of unification. If last year’s festivities surrounding the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall are any indication, they will also praise the courageous East Germans for their Peaceful Revolution of 1989-90 and draw attention to the vast changes people in the east have experienced in transitioning into a very different system in the Federal Republic of Germany.

Twenty-five Years of German Unity

When the reunification of Germany became a reality in 1990, it was also time for the forecasters to take center stage. How long would it take until the East German economy had shaken off the consequences of 40 years of communism? And how long would it take until living standards in eastern Germany matched those in western Germany? Views on such issues differed greatly. The optimists’ camp was led by the German chancellor, Helmut Kohl, who held out the imminent prospect of “blossoming landscapes” in economic terms for the five new federal states. The “Aufbau Ost” development program was expected to last around half a decade. It was not only politicians, but also some economists who believed that it might be possible to catch up that fast.

A United Germany at 25

Twenty-five years on, it is hard for many to remember that nothing about German unification was preordained. Leaders at the time seized an extraordinary moment and created new realities on the ground. The twenty-fifth anniversary of Germany’s unification gives us the chance to remember and celebrate the remarkable outcome. Those reflections should also inspire us to look for opportunities today to make our world better.

A Europe “Whole and Free”

On May 31, 1989, a determined U.S. President George H. W. Bush strode to a podium in Mainz, West Germany to explain his vision of what Europe could be like if the Cold War ever ended. “The passion for freedom cannot be denied forever,” President Bush told West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and others who gathered for his speech. “The world has waited long enough. The time is right. Let Europe be whole and free.”

Twenty-five Years after the Fall of the Wall

When history was about to turn the corner at the end of the 1980s and German unification shot to the top of the international agenda, not everybody was cheering. British …

The Miracle of Leipzig

This is a story about the secret of freedom—courage.  Germans in Leipzig courageously faced down a regime that had killed fellow citizens, whose only crime was to seek freedom and …

The Day the Berlin Wall Really Fell

Contrary to popular lore, the Berlin Wall did not fall on November 9, 1989. Nor did it fall in Berlin. It fell on October 9 some 120 miles away, in …

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