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Germany begins 3 days of reunification celebrations

October 1, 2022

Unity Day on Monday will mark 32 years since East and West Germany were reunited after the fall of the Berlin Wall. A three-day festival in the city of Erfurt is being held in the shadow of the Ukraine war.

Thuringia state premier Bodo Ramelow and others officially open celebrations to market German Unity Day on October 1, 2022
Erfurt, in the state of Thuringia is hosting three days of events to mark German Unity DayImage: Martin Schutt/dpa/picture alliance

Germany began three days of celebrations on Saturday to mark the reunification in October 1990 of the country's East and West, a year after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Erfurt hosts 2022 Unity Day events

Despite a forecast for wind and rain, up to 120,000 people are expected in the central city of Erfurt in the state of Thuringia ahead of and including the 32nd German Unity Day on Monday.

The eastern state of Thuringia currently holds the presidency of the Bundesrat, Germany's upper parliamentary chamber, and was tasked with organizing this year's festivities under the motto "Growing Together."

Dozens of cultural and entertainment events have been arranged.

Thuringia state premier Bodo Ramelow formally opened proceedings on Saturday by unveiling a redesigned Day of German Unity logo on the city's Cathedral Square.

Ramelow told the audience that despite the ongoing Ukraine war and the energy crisis it was still important to mark German Unity Day.

“I think that in times like this we have to be able to celebrate," he said.

Residents gather round a stage in Erfurt, Thuringia to begin three  days of celebrations to mark German reunification 32 years ago
Battling the wind and rain, Erfurt residents began three days of celebrations to mark German reunificationImage: Martin Schutt/dpa/picture alliance

However, a planned concert by the Kyiv Symphony Orchestra from Ukraine was canceled owing to bad weather.

On Monday, hundreds of guests are expected to attend an ecumenical service and a ceremony in Erfurt and President Frank-Walter Steinmeier will make a speech.

Why does Germany mark reunification on October 3?

Although the Berlin Wall fell on November 9, 1989, marking the beginning of the end of communism in Central and Eastern Europe, it took a further 11 months for German reunification to formally take place.

On October 3, 1990, Eastern Germany, or the German Democratic Republic (GDR), ceased to exist, and five newly created states on its former territory joined the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany).

East and West Berlin were reunited and became a full-fledged city-state within Germany. Berlin later became the capital of united Germany.

November 9 was considered inappropriate as a national holiday as it is also the anniversary of the first large-scale Nazi-led pogroms against Jews in 1938, known as Kristallnacht.

mm/msh (dpa, epd)