Wednesday, 30 September 2015

einheit, zipfelbund

With a quarter-century of Germany unity being observed this weekend (and importantly, we’ve been afforded many reminders to reflect on the meaning and the different stages of the reunification process that led up to this formalised recognition), it seems especially poignant that this anniversary come at time when Germany is preoccupied with a refugee-crisis, which although of a different character, does revisit many of the same challenges.

Twenty-five years on, the West is portrayed as a gracious wrecking ball, welcoming their oppressed neighbours back into the fold, and though the exodus was not as overwhelming nor exotic, I am sure that there was a modicum of fear that these Germans, a whole generation cut-off from the free and democratic world, from the West’s perspective, might bring the same wrack and ruin that ushered in the dissolution of the Soviets. These East Germans, a trickle at first of brave souls escaping subjugation had become a regular deluge, had grown up with different conventions, atheist and conservative, and for many the clash of cultures still has not been resolved. Ossi und Wessi. Those are the same reservations that confront Germany and Europe presently. The observance was cemented in 1990, a little short of one year after the fall of the Berlin Wall in order to avoid Schicksaltag (the Fateful Day) already overloaded with meaning, but keeping the events linked—even in unlinking the dates—does allow the memory to reach back further to a time that witnessed an even larger refugee crisis not only perpetrated by the German people but one wherein they were also migrants. German citizens were exiled not only from new acquired lands but also from territories associated with German settlement for generations, like Gdansk, Kaliningrad and Prague and faced many challenges integrating into the metropolitan society. What do you think? What lessons ought to be taken away from this Day of Reunification?