Quadriga Special Edition: “20 Years of German Unity” Hope, Opportunity & Achievement | Quadriga - International Debate from Berlin | DW | 30.09.2010
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Quadriga Special Edition: “20 Years of German Unity” Hope, Opportunity & Achievement

There were only 329 days between the fall of the Berlin Wall and German reunification. When the Wall fell on the 9th of November 1989, delighted and stunned people flocked to the West.


At that time few people believed they would be celebrating the unification of the two German states just eleven months later.

Between those two events lay a diplomatic offensive, long nights of negotiation, high-stakes poker and euphoria. There were real fears that the Soviet Union, the United States, France and Britain would not accept the German wish for reunification. Those fears of a German superpower were fuelled by history. But on the 12th of September 1990, six signatures sealed a document which would open a new chapter of world history. The Treaty on the Final Settlement with Respect to Germany, also known as the Two plus Four Agreement, heralded the end of the military standoff between cold war enemies.

The first freely elected East German parliament worked at a furious pace. Deputies passed more than 150 laws and formulated around 100 resolutions. They changed the East German constitution to pave the way for reunification and passed the laws enabling monetary, economic and social union.

In a special session of the East German parliament on the night from the 22nd to the 23rd of August 1990, and by a margin of 294 votes to 62 against with 7 abstentions, deputies voted that East Germany should accede to the territory governed by Article 23 of the Basic Law, West Germany’s constitution, on October the 3rd, 1990.

Twenty years after reunification many Germans still refer to the East and the West. Some complain about the refusal to recognize East German academic qualifications, the curtailment of careers in science, the military and diplomatic corps, as well as continued inequality of standards of living. Others complain about huge financial transfers from west to east.

Twenty years after German reunification the question of whether Germany has made full use of the bonus of peace is being asked. And has it lived up to then Chancellor Helmut Kohl's call to take on more international responsibility in Europe and across the world? There is a lot of complaining going on in the reunified Germany. At the same time a lot of chances are missed or not even seen as such. And the question remains whether Germany is still waiting for a new dawn 20 years after reunification.