Thirty Years of German Unity
From the day the Berlin Wall came down on November 9, 1989, a great tidal wave of change made its way across Germany, Europe, and the world.
The first change happened close to home, with divided Germany unified on October 3, 1990. An enlarged Federal Republic of Germany was cause for celebration, but it also set off a series of political, economic, and social reckonings that the country has spent the last thirty years addressing.
AGI celebrates the thirtieth anniversaries of German Unification in 2020 and the fall of the Wall in 2019 with commentaries, analysis, and events looking at events as they unfolded and how we remember them, the impact of a unifying Germany on domestic policies in East and West, the role of the transatlantic partnership, and understanding the divisions today.
Look to the very heart of Europe, to Berlin, and you will see a great truth shining brighter with each passing day: The quest for freedom is stronger than steel, more permanent than concrete.
– George H.W. Bush, November 11, 1989
In 2019 and 2020, we mark two momentous events in German history: the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 2019, and the 30th anniversary of German reunification on October 3, 2020. What began as one of the most momentous political developments in a generation—the climax of the peaceful uprising that brought freedom to 17 million East Germans—led to the unification of Germany less than twelve months later. A round anniversary of a joyous event leaves us prone to nostalgia, especially when the images of November 9 and October 3 are so easy to recall, with jubilant crowds atop the Berlin Wall and in front of the Reichstag. That is all the more reason to pause and consider the deeper roots and the sacrifice inherent in the toppling of communism in central and eastern Europe in 1989, and why the United States’ relationship with Germany has been central to American goals in Europe and more broadly for seventy years.
Supported by the AGI Society, Culture & Politics Program with funds from the German Embassy Washington and Deutschlandjahr USA with funds from the BDI.