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Day of German Unity and German-American Day

German papers regularly point out that British Prime Minister Thatcher and French President Mitterrand were not very enthusiastic at all about German unification in 1990. The US government, however, was very supportive. Former Chancellor Helmut Kohl and former President George Bush attended the Celebration of the Day of German Unity at the German Ambassador’s Residence in Washington, DC on October 3, 2006. You can read, listen and watch the speeches by both statesmen as well as Ambassador Scharioth and Minister President Milbradt on the German Embassy's homepage. Helmut Kohl said:
During the historic times, it was truly a stroke of luck when the iron curtain slowly lifted that we Germans were able to rely on you, George Bush, who was president of the United States. When the opportunity for reunification became clearer and drew closer, and when others were still skeptical and hesitant, it was you and your government who encouraged and supported us and helped us on the road toward unification. Mr. President, you will always have a special place in the book of German history.
George H.W. Bush:
As this audience knows, both Margaret and Francois had reservations about a unified Germany. In fact, at one point Mitterrand jokingly told me, "I like Germany so much, I think there should be two of them!"
Klaus Scharioth:
We will never forget the essential role you played, as we won't forget the Marshall Plan, we won't forget the Berlin Airlift, or John F. Kennedy's 'Ich bin ein Berliner' or Ronald Reagan's 'Mister Gorbachev, tear down this wall, open up this gate.' Mr. President, thank you for what you and the American people have done for us and for being our guests of honor tonight.
October 6 has been German-American Day for 20 years. In part of this year's proclamation, President George W. Bush encouraged "all Americans to celebrate our Nation's German heritage and the many ways German Americans have enriched and strengthened our country." Ambassador Scharioth said in his message of greetings:
America will commemorate its 400th anniversary in 2007, when the first settlement was established along the banks of the James River. The first Germans who arrived in Jamestown in 1608 were among the earliest settlers. During the year, we will also look back on 400 years of transatlantic relations, mutual enrichment, and shared experiences across the Atlantic. Truly a time to celebrate! I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those German-Americans who work so hard to preserve our German heritage, culture, and language in the United States.
The 60th anniversary of the Speech of Hope was celebrated on October 4, 2006 and Henry Kissinger represented the United States. (About Kissinger's influence on the current White House see the Atlantic Review's post on Bob Woodward's latest book.) I have not found an English source about that event. However, the Atlantic Review explained the background and importance of the speech by Secretary of State James F. Byrnes, who gave hope at a time of even greater uncertainty than 1990.


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Bill on :

Uggh Jörg... as a German you may not want to be too closely associated with the first European settlers at Jamestown, Virginia between 1607-1619. The story wasn't quite as rosey as the one they may have taught you back in the Grundschule. Messy business that was, really nasty for the Algonquins and the Powhatans and the Angolans. Wait on my next post to see what I mean. Let the English and the Nederlander (the Dutch) take the heat for what went down at Jamestown and just pretend that the first German immigrants to North America in the 17th Century landed at New Amsterdam or Boston or somewhere up North with bibles in hand and no malice in their hearts.

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