Germans celebrate Day of Unity Tuesday
Sixteen years ago, East and West Germany became one country

Petra Lessoing
Kaiserslautern American

Germans observe Unity Day Tuesday. It is a legal holiday; official institutions, banks and stores are closed.


On Oct. 3, 1990, the former German Democratic Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany were officially reunited.  The process of reunification started in 1989. During September and October of that year, East Germans demonstrated for democratic reforms and the right to travel to Dresden, Leipzig, Halle, Schwerin and other towns.

Chief of State, Erich Honecker was dismissed from his top position Oct. 18. The new political office announced the opening of the borders to the Federal Republic of Germany and the border gates along the Berlin wall the night of Nov. 9, 1989.

Over the next three days, more than three million East Germans crossed the border into West Germany just to celebrate, sightsee and purchase goods, which they were not able to obtain in the east.

The wall, a symbol of the Cold War for 28 years, was torn down during the following weeks and months, and pieces were sold as souvenirs.
East Germany’s first free elections in 40 years were held March 18, 1990, and citizens elected a new government. Basic changes concerning the country’s economy, currency, social laws and jurisdiction were established by state contracts May 18 and Aug. 31.

Finally, Oct. 3, 1990, the German Democratic Republic ceased to exist. After 40 years, it vanished from the world political map.