February 2024
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October 3 – German Unification Day

by Ken Yeager (ACS)

Germany Unification DayFor most of you, today is just October 3rd, but here in Germany it is a holiday – Unification Day. 24 years ago the Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR) or for you on the west side of the great pond, the German Democratic Republic went out of business and Germany became whole once again.

OK, so it isn’t big news in the US but it brings strong memories to Gisela and I as we were witness to the crash of the USSR’s hold over Eastern Europe in 1989. We saw the hordes of East Germans that had gathered outside of the German Embassy (and our Embassy as well – we were neighbors) in Prague in very late September before they were allowed to leave Czechoslovakia and go to the Federal Republic of Germany. Trabants (the primary car available to East Germans) were parked all over the place and blocking roads. We remember being behind a bus driving through a narrow Prague street and knocking the mirrors off the car doors in order to force its way to its next stop. For several nights it was difficult for us to leave the Embassy in the evening due to the thick crowds outside on the street directly in front of our embassy.

German television has in the last few days shown videos of East Germans climbing over the German Embassy fence and then the voice of Hans Dietrich Genscher, Germany’s Foreign Minister at the time, announcing off the rear balcony of the Germany Embassy, that he had negotiated with the DDR authorities and that they could leave the next day for the Federal Republic of Germany. Even today, hearing the cheers brings goose-bumps to my skin. The joy of those cheers was so wonderful to hear.

And it wasn’t too long after that the wall opened in Berlin and the rest of Eastern Europe escaped the clutches of Communism.

The Chinese saying of “May you live in interesting times,” I understand is supposed to be a curse, in this case, it was not, it was a blessing and we, Gisela and I, got to see it.

2 comments to October 3 – German Unification Day

  • Mike McNally

    Ken, thanks for sharing your memory of this important history.

  • Mary Timmes shanabruch

    Ken, thanks for sharing. My husband, I and our children lived in the Rheinlandpfalz from ’83 to ’86. We had the privilege of meeting several people that had escaped the Iron Curtain, most were from Poland. In ’83, a few of us Army wives, traveled by duty train from Frankfort to Berlin. The differences between East Berlin and West Berlin were eye opening. In the East there was still WWII rubble. By evening, lights were very low and the sidewalks must have been rolled up because there was not a soul visible on the streets. It was very sad. Of course, West Berlin was very lively. When the USSR folded and the wall came down, we were so happy for the East Germans to be reunited with the West!

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