And Gutenberg Lived Here: German Unification Day

Yesterday I experienced something that very much surprised me:

the Germans aren’t celebrating German unification day much any more.

At least in our neck of the woods.

To find out what is going on, I checked the German newspapers:

Sure enough, every local newspaper had a picture of couples wrapped in a flag kissing,

the wall coming down,

The German flag.

A picture.


This is the 25 year anniversary.

(9 Nov 89 the fall of the Berlin wall- 3 Oct 90 the final unification)

Surely one would expect a bit more.

The big winners, of course, were Berlin,

where it all happened.

It meaning the wall between east and west coming down,

and Frankfurt,

with a three day music festival followed by fireworks illuminating the river.

But still, pretty much, apparently, a ho-hum affair.

And the tv listings showed that the major radio and tv channels all followed the pattern, more or less.

Specials in most of the regions about whether they have finally “grown together” with the ex DDR.


according to the previews,

yes and no.

(Several of my choir people, from the “other states” are still willing to talk of

“the change”,

but not of the change for the better.)

(Hard to believe, for us as Americans, but for those “of the east”

who experienced it,

apparently, there was a real feeling of friendship and families helping each other survive

it’s hard to find in the west of Germany)

Then there are the public ceremonies.

Which, of course, did take place, but are somehow subdued this year, in my opinion.

At least with regard to the fact that this is 25.

And what about that absolutely traditional German way of celebrating,

At least in our druidic, descended from Celts,  area?

The traditional two-hour walk through the woods,

collect mushrooms, and rose hips for jam,

hug a few trees, go home to coffee,

or to a park and grill.

Yesterday a very traditional friend,

an archivist in the national archive system,

came for a visit.

It’s always great fun when he comes, but he is, needless to say, uhm, traditional.

So we walked a bit.

Looked at ancient roman walls,

and for the identifying eagle, or standard, or marker, on the outside,

put there to show we roman cohorts were standing tough,

and could repel any of those nasty barbarians who showed up.

Especially on unity day.

Then we walked the parcours- a disc golf set up where you throw discs into 18 holes.

well, actually small wire garbage bins, but who is counting-

folks sport, like hiking, is big here-

watched the beautiful little mini-train for children,

and sat outside-

just warm enough-barely- to do still in October-

for a supper of goats’ cheese salad,

actually wild boar hotdogs for the guys,

and watch while the Germans take part in the traditional end of the day grilling,

and fireworks,

except there weren’t any Germans.

For the first time in years,

They were all Chinese and Turkish.

Which made me remember the fact that

when the wall came down in ’89,

I was at a voice lesson with a wonderful opera singer,

whose son was on a stage in Berlin at the time,

and called her to tell her not to worry.

He had gotten through the crowds,

and was safe on the stage when demonstrators threw open the doors

to hand around champagne

and yell “the wall is down. We’re going to celebrate on the other side.”

And we sat there,

with our mouths open,

and thought,

as echoed by a top Frankfurt cleric yesterday;

“It’s was a miracle.”

And now…

25 years later.

It kind of makes me wonder.

Was everyone else at home, or at a club or private party?

Or have things changed here so much, most people just don’t remember?

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