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Bush Sr.: 'United Germany has fulfilled my expectations'

Gero Schliess//xz
November 7, 2014

George H. W. Bush was the US president when the Berlin Wall came down 25 years ago. In an interview with DW, President Bush talks about his personal view of the fall of the Wall.

George H. W. Bush
Image: AFP/Getty Images/B. Smialowski

"Although personally elated over what appeared to have happened, I was immediately wary about offering hasty comments to the media. We had to be careful how we portrayed our response to the good news, and anticipate not only President Gorbachev's reaction - but also that of his opposition within the Soviet Union," Bush remembers.

When asked about the most crucial decisions he had to make at that time, Bush says:"The single most crucial decision we had to make - whether or not to support German unification - was in the end not a difficult one particularly because of the close and trusting relationship to [former Chancellor Helmut Kohl - eds.]."

In a 1990 address to the German people on the event of the reunification of Germany, President Bush said: "A world without the wall would mean that Germany would contribute in full measure as a force for peace and stability in world affairs."

As to the question of whether Germany has fulfilled his expectations, Bush tells DW:"Yes, and then some! To see a united Germany tackle the tough challenges associated with unification and go on to play a leading and constructive role on a host of regional and global issues has been truly wonderful to witness."

When asked how to reestablish trust and strengthen the ties between Germany and the United States, Bush says:"I hope the anniversary we are marking will perhaps refresh in our collective minds the serious commitment that the American people and their government have made to Germany and its welfare dating back not just to 1989, but to 1945. I hope any recent and real irritants that may have erupted will not obscure that far bigger and more enduring picture."

Referring to the question of whether Germany should strengthen its military contribution to the coalition led by the US to combat the "Islamic State" group, Bush comments:"I will let Chancellor Merkel, for whom I have great respect, and her advisors sort out that internal question for Germany. I have never been much for doling out unsolicited advice, and less so at age 90."

George Herbert Walker Bush served as president of the United States from 1989 to 1993. He was interviewed by Gero Schliess in Washington, DC.

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