Post sponsored by

MIL OSI Translation. Region: Germany / Deutschland –

Source: CDU CSU

Mister President! Ladies and gentlemen! Five thoughts on German unity and 30 years of reunification.

The first thought: joy. Each of us somehow has our own story of reunification. For me it is necessarily more trivial than for others. But I still remember very, very well when I stood here at the Reichstag as a 17-year-old and looked at the wall, at the Brandenburg Gate, which was closed. If someone had said to me at the time: “In 2020 you will be in the German Bundestag, give a speech on 30 years of reunification, you can walk past the open Brandenburg Gate every morning”, wonderful, wonderful! This joy, ladies and gentlemen, we have to keep calling ourselves back to our hearts, we have to preserve it. Who doesn’t remember what they did on November 9th? This bewilderment, this amazement also in the time afterwards, this breathlessness in which everything developed, the pride on October 3rd! I was in France on November 9th. The people there congratulated me. The world was happy with us. We have to bring that back instead of always talking in small pieces about what is missing and what may have gone wrong.

(Applause from the CDU / CSU and the FDP as well as from MPs of the SPD and the BÜNDNISSES 90 / DIE GRÜNEN)

The second thought is gratitude. Gratitude – this has been said several times, and rightly so – to those who fought for this freedom, to the men and women in the autumn of 1989 in East Germany with great courage, not knowing how it would end, not knowing what the riot police or what someone else would do it.

But I don’t want to forget those who started on June 17, 1953.

(Applause from the CDU / CSU and members of the FDP)

Those who demonstrated against the crackdown on the Prague Spring. Those who refused to do military service. Those who tried to get over the wall. Those who have their lives, their freedom, their families, who have sacrificed everything to have a better life somewhere in democracy and happiness. Those also contributed to making autumn 1989 possible at all.

(Applause from the CDU / CSU and members of the FDP)

I would also like to thank the politicians in West Germany and in Europe who never gave up believing in German unity when others had already accepted the second state. I would especially like to thank our friends from Poland, Solidarnosc, and our friends from Hungary – because without them none of this would have been possible.

(Applause from the CDU / CSU as well as from members of the SPD and FDP and from Katrin Göring-Eckardt [BÜNDNIS 90 / DIE GRÜNEN])

I would like to thank Mikhail Gorbachev and, by the way, also the people who were then Soviet and now Russian. It wasn’t taken for granted that they allowed this to happen. Despite all the criticism that we are rightly exercising against Russia at the moment, let’s not forget that at one point or another.

(Applause from the CDU / CSU, the SPD, the LEFT and the BÜNDNIS 90 / DIE GRÜNEN as well as from members of the FDP)

I would also like to thank George Bush. This would not have been possible without the Americans, and perhaps we are reminded of that too, especially in these times.

(Applause from the CDU / CSU as well as from members of the SPD, the FDP, the LEFT and the BÜNDNISSES 90 / DIE GRÜNEN)

I would like to thank Helmut Kohl

(Applause from the CDU / CSU and members of the SPD and FDP)

and among the politicians from East and West, who courageously took advantage of this very narrow gap that history has left open for us. I am very happy that there are some sitting here today – whether Wolfgang Schäuble, our President of the Bundestag, Katharina Landgraf, Eberhard Brecht or a few others – who were there at the time and who helped ensure that this unity could be completed accordingly. That was very, very important.

(Applause from the CDU / CSU and the SPD as well as from members of the FDP, the LEFT and the BÜNDNISSES 90 / DIE GRÜNEN)

I would also like to thank – that was mentioned in some of the speeches, and that is very, very important to me personally – to the forgotten heroes of this reunification. Everyday life began after October 3, 1990, and this everyday life – as someone from the West I only got it late – was characterized by troubles, doubts, setbacks, by many problems, whether it was unemployment, the loss of my own biography or the legitimation of identity. I would like to apologize for the fact that we in the West may not have seen this for too long.

(Applause from the CDU / CSU as well as from MPs of the SPD and the BÜNDNISSES 90 / DIE GRÜNEN)

What the people, especially the women – I just heard – have done there is really great. In this respect, we have much, much reason to thank you.

Third thought: freedom. It was a struggle for freedom. Yes, it was also a struggle for reunification, but first it was about freedom, democracy and justice. And this fight ended happily; he has been peaceful. This is a very great gift and it must be an obligation for us to stand by the side of those who are still fighting for freedom today, whether in Belarus, Hong Kong or anywhere else. Who, if not us based on our history, should stand by their side?

(Applause from the CDU / CSU, the SPD, the FDP and the BÜNDNIS 90 / DIE GRÜNEN)

It’s also about defending freedom here inside. The task of the men and women in 1989 is that we here in the German Bundestag defend this freedom against extremists of all colors and stripes.

(Applause from the CDU / CSU, the SPD and the FDP as well as from members of the ALLIANCE 90 / THE GREENS)

The fourth thought is commitment. 1990 was 45 years after World War II. It wasn’t long ago. The then active generation of politicians in Europe were 55 to 65 years old. They all still had a personal memory that Germany brought suffering and horror to the rest of Europe. The generation active at the time still had all of this in their heads from their own experience, and yet they trusted us Germans and said: Yes, we trust you that you will not abuse this reunification to bring suffering and horror to Europe again. You trusted what is in the Basic Law, where we said that in a united Europe we want to contribute to peace in this world. I believe that we have justified this trust over the past 30 years, but we must continue to justify it. That is why I say to all those who say: “Yes, you are doing a little bit much for Europe”: No, it is also an obligation from 1989 that we always do a little more than the others, because the others do us have trusted, and we want to and want to give this trust back.

(Applause from the CDU / CSU, the SPD and the BÜNDNIS 90 / DIE GRÜNEN as well as from members of the FDP)

I have now spoken about happiness, gratitude, commitment and trust, and freedom. Finally – fifth point – I would like to speak about something that has been mentioned several times, namely cohesion, community. Yes, of course the category “East or West” no longer plays a role for young people, and I think it’s nice, Yvonne Magwas, that a young person says: I’m Thuringian. – Of course, the Thuringian is different from the Mecklenburg

(Laughter from members of the CDU / CSU)

and by the way also different from the Franconian. I come from North Rhine-Westphalia and my colleagues know that the Westphalians are also different from the Rhinelander.

(Matthias W. Birkwald [DIE LINKE]: Yes!)

And that’s just as well. One of the slogans for the celebration of 30 years of reunification is “Germany is one: many”. This “one: many” is also a good thing. But that should not be attached to cardinal points. We should keep this diversity. But of course we have an obligation here in the German Bundestag to ensure equal living conditions, and we do that too,

(Enrico Komning [AfD]: Quite unsuccessful!)

through the funding programs, through the state financial equalization and through the fact that we have an active policy, but, as I said, not in directions, but where it is necessary. We have regions in the west and east that are struggling. And we have regions in the west and east where things are going great. It is our job here to establish this unity.

(Applause from the CDU / CSU and from Carsten Schneider [Erfurt] [SPD])

Dear colleagues, it’s not just about material unity, it’s also about inner unity. Despite all the diversity that we have in this country between young and old and perhaps also between East and West, North and South and those who have come and those who have always been here, there is a place in Germany where this unity has to be restored over and over again. And this is here, the German Bundestag. We are the bracket that connects this country.

(Applause from the CDU / CSU as well as from members of the SPD and FDP and from Katrin Göring-Eckardt [BÜNDNIS 90 / DIE GRÜNEN])

If we polarize and divide here: Who should hold this country together?

(Tino Chrupalla [AfD]: Then get started!)

That is why I expect one thing from us – we all have to examine ourselves critically again and again -: Unity and inner unity have a basic requirement, and that is respect. With all differences of opinion, we should never rise above the other. We should always try to weigh up the arguments on an equal footing, to argue and to struggle to do the right thing.

(Applause from the CDU / CSU as well as from members of the SPD, the FDP and the LEFT – Enrico Komning [AfD]: But you don’t do that! – Tino Chrupalla [AfD]: We remind you!)

In conclusion, I would like to state one thing: We were very fortunate to have completed the unity of the state on October 3, 1990. Inner unity must be achieved and fought for anew every day, and this is the place for it, in the country too, of course. Maybe that should be the message for 30 years of German reunification.

(Sustained applause from the CDU / CSU – applause from the SPD, the FDP and the BÜNDNIS 90 / DIE GRÜNEN)


EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and / or sentence structure not be perfect.

MIL Translation OSI