On the 3rd of October, twenty five years ago, Germany was no longer a divided country. I was not quite three years old, but the fall of the wall and the reunification meant that my life would take a very different turn and I sometimes wonder what my life would have been like if it didn’t happen. Time for a brief reflection and some historical documents.
The end of East Germany also meant an end for the constant surveillance by the StaSi, the end of the indoctrination in education, and allowed many citizens to live a freer, more self-determined life. At the same time, many families in East Germany found that their economic and social security declined under the new capitalist system that brought about unemployment and low income. Economic inequality rose and even though people already complained about the comparable riches of the ruling elite in East Germany, the inequality between the richest and poorest today is considerably higher.
The collapse of the DDR now seemed inevitable, but just a little more than a year before the reunification, it appeared to be impossible. For a long time protest seemed futile, change was slow. But then it all happened very fast. Protests in Poland, protests in East Germany, later in Czecheslovakia. East Germans trying to escape to the West until Hungary opened its borders.
In East Germany, the protests were initiated by small political groups on the fringes of society. Many of these people considered themselves to be socialist, many were in the church, the only politically independent organisation. The church opened its doors for the people and provided a space that, although not entirely protected from the StaSi, was safer than other public places. The protests grew, and soon more and more people joined – until Nov 9, 1989 the Wall came down. In the subsequent chaos, public debates and the first free elections, the question of a reunification – to provide safety and stability, both politically and economically, became one of the key questions. Twenty-five years ago it became reality.
On this day, there was a church service in my home village, Himmelpfort. During the sermon, the pastor found words to summarise the hopes and fears of these days, and many of these are as relevant as ever. Somehow, I was able to get hold of a tape of this service and I transcribed and translated it. You can find the original and the German version below.
I am not particularly patriotic person, the 9th of November 1988 seems more important to me than the 3rd of October, but either way – today is the 25th anniversary of the Tag der Deutschen Einheit.
Church service on the day of the German reunification in the village of Himmelpfort
Description: In the following you will find a transcript and translation of a church service in the small village of Himmelpfort, in East Germany, as recorded on the 3rd of October 1990, the day of the German reunification. Pastor Erich Köhler leads the service. He is supported by his son, Harald Köhler and Markus Kliesch and Klaus Tischendorf. This document is published with the written permission of Pastor Köhler.
Download: translation1.pdf [245.29kB]
Gottesdienst zur Wiedervereinigung in der Gemeinde Himmelpfort
Description: Im folgenden ist ein Transkript des Wendegottesdienstes in der Gemeinde Himmelpfort (Brandenburg, Ostdeutschland) vom 3. Oktober 1990, dem Tag der Deutschen Wiedervereinigung. Der Gottesdienst wurde geführt von Pfarrer Erich Köhler, Mitwirkende waren Harald Köhler, Klaus Tischendorf und Markus Kliesch. Dieser Mitschnitt wurde veröffentlicht mit der mündlichen Zustimmung von Pfarrer Köhler
Download: german_text.pdf [59.98kB]