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Reunification Politicians Accept Prize

June 17, 2005

The three heavyweights of German reunification -- former US president George Bush, Mikhail Gorbachev of the old Soviet Union and Germany's Helmut Kohl -- met again Friday to receive a prize commemorating their work. "They played a significant part in ensuring that decades of division in Germany and Europe, dictatorship and lack of freedom could be overcome," the president of the German Unity Board, Christine Lieberknecht, said in presenting the first Point Alpha prizes to the political veterans. The award, which carries a 50,000-euro ($60,900) prize sponsored by German corporations, is named for the US observation base on the former Cold War border between East and West Germany, at the center of the line of defense known as the Fulda Gap. Up to 200 US troops at one time patrolled the site, considered to be one of the tensest spots along the frontier, protecting the West from a feared Soviet invasion until the Berlin Wall fell in November 1989. The ceremony was open to the public, a decision organizers said was meant to underscore the enduring gratitude of Germans for the accomplishments of the three statesmen in power when the country reunited in October 1990. Lieberknecht said the prize would be awarded regularly to serve as a reminder of the peaceful resolution of the Cold War.

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