Himmel uber Berlin – Wings of Desire
1970s and 80s
Process of German reunification was a long one
Germany is an unusual state in certain respects in European history because in the mid19 th
century, not clear it was one state at all. Collection of different principalities with different styles of
rule. Some had been influenced by the Napoleonic code from invasions, others remained rather
despotic. Over 300 principalities at beginning of 19 century. Idea that Prussia would unify into
modern nationstate was not obvious. The alternative model, the Grossdeutsch solution, suggested
Germany would unify with Austria under Austrian control. 1871, Germany unified under Prussian
Otto von Bismarck, and that character remained alive in Germany until 20 century, which may
account for a certain authoritarian quality of German state leading into WWI. Then, Weimar
Republic, then Hitler’s Third Reich. Germany really hadn’t been a unified country for that long.
Many believe GDR and DDR division would last, but this was uncomfortable for many –families on
either side of the wall, many thought themselves German first and foremost with less importance
given to identity as Capitalist or Communist, longing for reunification.
Process of reunification stretches back to Social Democrat Willi Brandt, head of Federal Republic in
1969. He introduced policy of reconciliation with eastern neighbors, including Poland and East
Germany – Ostpolitik. Met with East Germany’s Erich Honecker. Relaxation of tension b/w East
and West Germany began then.
After Brandt, Helmut Schmidt to power –pragmatist, centrist style Social Democrat, moderate but
also right enough that worked well with Ronald Reagan.
Unemployment rate in West Germany grew from ’79 to ’82, and partly because of high
unemployment rate that Germans rejected social democrats and brought into power representative
of CDU Helmut Kohl (Christian Democratic Union) – 19821998. Kohl was famous for announcing
that he was one of the first leaders of West Germany to not be implicated somehow in the politics
of WWII and Third Reich. He was still a boy when Third Reich collapsed.
German law stipulated that other territories could join German territory simply through majority vote
– this was a law going back to 1940s. So, the law was already prepared to bring Eastern Germany
German Reunification process of Die Wende – Transformation.
Agreement for economic and social union: 18 May 1990
Signing of the Widervereinigungsvertrag: 31 August 1990
Approval in both countries 20 September 1990
Officially recognized under internaitnoal law 3 October 1990
Official day of celebration: Tag der deutschen Einheit, 3 October. Germany was at least partially responsible for two of the first major wars of the century – the view
of many, especially those in France. So, 22 September 1984 (6 years before German
reunification), Helmut Kohl and Francois Mitterrand grasp hands at the Douaumont cemetery in
Verdun – where, in 1916, nearly 800,000 French and German soldiers killed and wounded over an
inconclusive battle. When Kohl and Mitterrand met there, standing in front of a monument where
the remains of 150,000 French soldiers lay. Commemorate for the first time together the victims of
WWI, a war that was easier to commemorate together than the second. Symbolic gesture of
reconciliation between Germany and France, but also left and right