Fact of the day: 13th February

On this day in 1990 an agreement was made to reunite Germany.

On 28 November 1989—two weeks after the fall of the Berlin Wall—West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl announced a 10-point program calling for the two Germanys to expand their cooperation with the view toward eventual reunification.

Initially, no timetable was proposed. However, events rapidly came to a head in early 1990. First, in March, the Party of Democratic Socialism—the former Socialist Unity Party of Germany—was heavily defeated in East Germany’s first free elections. A grand coalition was formed under Lothar de Maizière, leader of the East German wing of Kohl’s Christian Democratic Union, on a platform of speedy reunification. Second, East Germany’s economy and infrastructure underwent a swift and near-total collapse. While East Germany had long been reckoned as having the most robust economy in the Soviet bloc, the removal of Communist hegemony revealed the ramshackle foundations of that system. The East German mark had been practically worthless outside of East Germany for some time before the events of 1989–90, further magnifying the problem.

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While the Basic Law was modified rather than replaced by a constitution as such, it still permits the adoption of a formal constitution by the German people at some time in the future.

To commemorate the day that marks the official unification of the former East and West Germany in 1990, 3 October has since then been the official German national holiday, the Day of German Unity. It replaced the previous national holiday held in West Germany on 17 June commemorating the Uprising of 1953 in East Germany and the national holiday on 7 October in the GDR,  that commemorated the foundation of the East German State.

It’s hard to believe this was only 24 years ago. It seems like forever ago, but it wasn’t. For me, it was only a year before I was born. Funny just how quickly things can change.

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