Saturday, 3 October 2015

Lifestyle: Happy Reunification Day Germany

Der Tag Der Deutschen einheit, Mauerfall Berlin
Image Source: ARTE
Whilst many in the English-speaking world ‘celebrate’ Mean Girls Day today, my country commemorates the Fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 – the event that caused the downfall of the GDR regime and the first step towards freedom for millions of people and the chance to form a united nation, which is, in my opinion, a more important event to celebrate on 3rd October. But guess what: I've nearly forgotten about it myself and I feel seriously ashamed of it that I haven’t shown the respect this important day deserves.

I know this post is usually not something I would publish on Style Lingua, but Reunification Day is far too important to me to ever forget it again and I'd like to share with you, what it means to me.

26 years ago, the bravery of my parents alongside millions of others to travel to our capital and decide to destroy the wall has changed so much in our history. It has affected my life tremendously and I couldn’t be more grateful to everyone who took the risk to fight for a change. Yes, I do rant a lot about my nation. Yes, there are days when I wish I wasn’t born German and I do get very annoyed by my fellow people, but deep inside, I admit I’m proud of being German and of what the country has become. There I said it.

Soon after the end of WWII, my country was split and divided amongst the winners of the war into a west and east part. A thick and high clay wall with a death zone in between was built in Berlin and alongside the counties of mid-Germany to separate the people - a deathly trap for everyone who attempted to flee. We speak of 40 years full of fear, terror and suppression from the GDR government and the Soviet Union. My parents grew up in those days weren’t allowed to travel, they were spied on by the STASI (I recommend the Oscar awarded film The Life of The Others) and people attempting to flee the GDR were killed and marked as traitors. People lived in fear and had limited opportunities. Everything that seems to be granted and natural for me today such as learning a language, attending university, going shopping, plan a holiday or simply listening to music on the radio was highly operated and controlled by the government and any breach of the rules would lead in most cases to persecution, torture or even execution.

The Fall of the Berlin Wall was actually a misinterpretation of the people when the government announced a new design for a travel law. All hell broke loose and everyone made their way straight to Berlin to bring the wall down. I was three at the time and I remember my parents watched the news when suddenly footage from a forbidden broadcasting station aired the pictures of people climbing up the wall. My dad was totally excited and he would take me, my mum and sister to our small Trabbi car (the ones in which many British tourists these days love to go around sightseeing in Berlin) and drove to the capital. He had a hammer and chisel in his pockets to help to take the wall down. We brought back chunks of the clay wall which we still keep as a remembrance of that night.

The wall is still present. Parts of it are scattered around Berlin, the most prominent one is the East Side Gallery. Tourists find it cool and trendy and are barely aware of its true meaning. It marks history, important history and it should be preserved for generations to come as a memorial for the happenings of the night, 3rd October 1989.

If my parents alongside millions of others wouldn’t have stood up to the GDR regime that night, our nation would still be torn. The 3rd October is a great achievement of which we can be very proud of. Though the wall has physically come down, I’m well aware that there is still a mental one in many heads. Salaries differ tremendously, people are still referred to as ‘Easty’ or ‘Westy’ and there are prejudices on both sides. We still have to work and come a long way to truly and fully be a united nation, but so far, we’ve managed well in the last 26 years. We have proven many times that once at the low point, we’ll always find the strength and the energies to get back up on our feet and rise again. We are natural fighters and never give up. The persistence of your strong-willed minds and also our extreme efficiency has made us the richest nation in Europe (economy-wise). We are a modern, but young nation that has to learn but is on the right way. That is indeed something to celebrate.

Happy Reunification Day Germany.

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