25th An­niver­sary of Ger­man Re­uni­fi­ca­tion and the Lib­er­a­tion from Com­mu­nism and Dic­ta­tor­ship


The Third of Oc­to­ber 1990 went down in history as one of the hap­pi­est days ever. How many times in history have there been peace­ful rev­o­lu­tions trans­form­ing a whole con­ti­nent? How many times has peace­ful change ended dic­ta­tor­ship and in­jus­tice, with­out a shot fired, with­out lives lost? How many times has the free will of cit­i­zens pre­vailed over il­le­git­i­mate rulers and the ut­terly anti-demo­cratic one-party-sys­tem? It is all this what the date is sym­bol­iz­ing, as the 3rd of Oc­to­ber 1990 is not only stand­ing for the for­mal re­uni­fi­ca­tion of Ger­many, but for the whole process of lib­er­a­tion of Europe from com­mu­nism.

For­mally, the re­uni­fi­ca­tion of Ger­many was brought about by a ne­go­ti­a­tion process, which ef­fec­tively ended what was rightly dubbed the Post-War-Era. The di­vi­sion of Europe had, of course, been a di­rect con­se­quence of the Sec­ond World War, and the en­su­ing Cold War. This ne­go­ti­a­tion process in it­self was proof of great states­man­ship on the side of the ne­go­ti­at­ing part­ners, amongst whom es­pe­cially for­mer U.S. Pres­i­dent Ge­orge Bush Sr. and for­mer Soviet Pres­i­dent Michail Gor­bachev de­serve to be lauded. How­ever, the whole process was re­ally made pos­si­ble by the coura­geous pop­u­lar move­ments in the for­merly com­mu­nist coun­tries in Europe, who had firmly stood up against the il­le­git­i­mate rule of the com­mu­nist par­ties. Ever since a Pope from Poland, St. John Paul II., had been elected, the winds of change were felt in Cen­tral and Eastern Europe, and they fi­nally swept away dic­ta­tor­ship and op­pres­sion.

For us Ger­mans, the peace­ful revo­lu­tion in our coun­try is an es­pe­cially mem­o­rable event, one we re­mem­ber with joy and thank­ful­ness. Af­ter the hor­rors of the past, some­thing had hap­pened which rec­on­ciled a whole gen­er­a­tion with their peo­ple and tra­di­tion. Who would have deemed pos­si­ble that the Ger­mans were ca­pa­ble of a peace­ful revo­lu­tion, and such a mirac­u­lous tran­si­tion? All the credit goes to the peo­ple in the Eastern part of Ger­many, who felt the winds of change right away, and who took to the streets by their hun­dreds of thou­sands - one day up to a mil­lion peace­ful de­mon­stra­tors at a time, de­mand­ing free­dom of speech, and demo­cratic rights! The Com­mu­nists and their State Se­cu­rity ap­pa­ra­tus were ren­dered help­less by this, es­pe­cially, as for­mer Soviet Pres­i­dent Gor­bachev had made it crys­tal clear, that he would never sup­port a mon­strous blood­bath like that on Tien An Men Square in June of 1989. And with­out the back­ing of the Soviet mil­i­tary, the East Ger­man Com­mu­nist Party was doomed.

I vividly re­mem­ber the events lead­ing to this his­toric change. At the time, I was posted to the Ger­man Em­bassy in Bu­dapest, where, in a nut­shell, it had all be­gun. Refugees from East Ger­many first es­caped com­mu­nism through Hungary, and it is worth men­tion­ing, that it was the Hun­gar­i­ans who - as we all used to say - breached the in­fa­mous Ber­lin Wall first. For Ger­many, the end of the com­mu­nist rule came through a mas­sive refugee move­ment - Ger­mans from the East flee­ing to Free­dom, the peo­ple fear­lessly ex­ert­ing their right to self de­ter­mi­na­tion in the most con­crete way pos­si­ble. Remembering how so many of our own fel­low coun­try­men had been refugees, to­day strongly con­trib­utes to the will­ing­ness of the Ger­mans to help other mi­grants, as best they can, and up to the lim­its.

The 3rd of Oc­to­ber 1990 will al­ways be re­mem­bered as a defin­ing mo­ment in history, as it stands for the peace­ful revo­lu­tion that ended the il­le­git­i­mate rule of com­mu­nism. I should like to in­vite all our Tai­wanese friends to celebrate to­gether with us this day, which, like no other date, stands for the val­ues we share - Hu­man Rights, free­dom, and democ­racy.

Martin Eberts, Di­rec­tor Gen­eral of the Ger­man In­sti­tute Taipei

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