The 3rd of October is a public holiday in Germany. The day the nation celebrates its reunification.
This is Germany’s newest public holiday and it is celebrated in a different city each year. This year it is the turn of Kiel, right up in the North of the country. Dignitaries from all over Germany are gathering to pay tribute to the biggest event of modern European history as the wall fell and a nation was reunited.
Although the wall came down in 1989, the German Day of National Unity is the anniversary of the administrative union of the two parts of Germany under one regime. It happened a little less than a year after the fall of the Berlin wall, once the former DDR had collapsed and the Western authorities took over control of the formerly communist areas. On the 3rd of October 1990 East and West Germany were reunified after over 40 years of separation.
“Tag der Deutschen Einheit” – Einheit means Unity in German
Books and theses have been written to answer this question and it all came in the context of a relaxing of Soviet control. However, there was a definite trigger point in the sudden end of the DDR. An official from the East German regime read out a statement at a press conference saying that people were allowed to cross the border. The statement came from a very confused and under-pressure regime and may have been a mistake. Later that day a huge column of people marched to the wall to see if it was really true. The border guards didn’t know what to do, so they just let them pass…
“I remember the day. It was very quiet in the streets because everyone was in front of the telly. The scenes when the sentence was spoken to open the border; smiling faces. It was overwhelming!” – Rosetta Stone employee, Heike, remembers one of the most dramatic days of her childhood in West Germany.
Aside from the formal ceremonies in Kiel, there will be parties and flag waving right up and down the country. Not least in the capital Berlin, where the scars of the cold war divide – as well as the joy at no longer being divided! – are perhaps felt most keenly. The now thoroughly westernised capital will be celebrating in style with a massive 80s and techno party right up at the Brandenburg Gate. A party venue that was once such a symbol of division, now becomes a huge open air party celebrating unity.
It’s a great day to start learning German!
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Language learner, teacher and contributing author to the Rosetta Stone magazine
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