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German Reunification Memorial Initiators Awarded National Prize

It took 10 years for a German citizen's initiative to convince the government to erect a memorial to German reunification. Its founders have been honored for their efforts with the German National Prize.

A computer rendition of the planned reunification memorial in Berlin

The planned memorial, rendered here, is to be a symbol for freedom and unity

Politicians Florian Mausbach and Guenther Nooke, journalist Juergen Engert, and the last premier of East Germany, Lothar de Maizière were recognized with the prize in Berlin on Tuesday, June 17. Their citizens' group Deutsche Gesellschaft was presented with 50,000 euros ($77,445).

Former Saxony Premier Kurt Biedenkopf, head of the National Foundation that designated this year's prize to the group, said that the German peace movement had not been given proper recognition to date.

"The prize winners strengthen our national historical consciousness," he said.

Demonstration at the Berlin Wall

Tearing down the Wall with dance instead of bullets

The four awardees and the German citizens' group, the Deutsche Gesellschaft, began a petition in May 1998 to have a memorial for this peaceful revolution built in Berlin.

Last year, the German government decided to erect the memorial on the Schlossplatz in central Berlin. The ground-breaking ceremony is planned for November 9, 2009, on the 20th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall.

The fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 was the first successful revolution for freedom and unification in German history, in which not a single shot was fired.

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