Today in History
3.10.1990: Germany Unity
Federal President Richard von Weizsäcker spoke at the hour of the reunification, accompanied by the ringing of the freedom bell, which was presented as a symbol of hope to Berliners by American citizens many years ago. Hundreds of thousands had assembled at the Brandenburg Gate on the eve of 3 October 1990. The party atmosphere was not only felt among the people but also prominent politicians celebrities, who all appeared at the Brandenburg Gate.

Although what was to literally unfurl into a drama had actually begun prior to 13 August 1961, when members of the People’s Police and building workers from the GDR had begun to build the Wall, it was on this day that the demarcation became particularly evident.

That very Summer, SED leader Walter Ulbricht's answer to a journalist's question about a stricter shielding of the GDR was, "Nobody intends to build a wall!"

The time had come a few months later. Many of those who did not share the opinion of Communist leaders thought that the GDR was transformed into a "concentration camp state". Many adjusted to the State, had to adjust for the sake of survival. 700 people were killed in their attempt to leave the "Worker and Farmer State" over the Wall and through the barbed wired.

Ronald Reagan, President of the United States, appeared at the Berlin Wall in June 1987 to shout to Mikhail Gorbachev, who was responsible for perestroika, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"

The GDR ultimately collapsed because of the Communist leaders overwhelmingly false belief in planned economy and the possibility of enslaving people. Just as decisive was the GDR citizens’ desire for freedom, which was expressed through their protest campaigns and demonstrations. The reunification of both parts of Germany was made possible.

This however didn’t only arouse hopes and longings, but also fears and apprehensions – not just in Germany but also in neighbouring states. Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl was completely aware of this, when he held a radio and television speech on the eve of 3 October 1990: "We Germans have learned from our history. We are a peace and freedom-loving people. And we will never put our democracy at the mercy of the enemies of peace and freedom. For us, patriotism, love of freedom and the spirit of good-neighbourliness go hand in hand".

Politicians and prominent citizens gathered together at the Berlin Philharmonic Concert Hall on 3 October 1990 to duly celebrate German unity. As usual, Federal President Richard von Weizsäcker found just the right words, as he uttered the following on this occasion: "How successful we are at achieving human unity, this is determined by no governmental pact, nor by our constitution, nor by legislators’ resolutions. This is determined by the behaviour of each and every one of us – by our own openness and affection for one another.

"Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit" ["Unity and Rights and Freedom"] – The national anthem which became a veritable cliché on this day, was written by Romantic poet Hoffmann von Fallersleben and initially set to a quartet by Joseph Haydn. It was on this day that many people in Germany began to understand the song’s true meaning.
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What historic event is celebrated in Germany on October 3?
  The collapse of communism
  The Octoberfest
  German reunification