Tuesday, October 04, 2005


Yesterday was October 3, the Day of German Unification. Well actually, the Wall fell on November 9, but as that is also the Night of Broken Glass, German reunification is celebrated on the 3rd.

Having grown up celebrating the 4th of July in Leland, Michigan, a town that oozes with patriotism and could very well be straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting, I was unsure of what to expect in terms of national celebration in Germany.

So I headed to the Brandenburg Gate (wearing my understated German-American pin and EU socks) to see how Berliners celebrated Oct. 3. A brief survey revealed that I was one of the only people wearing a flag. While I understand why this was the case, I was still a little surprised. Even the decorations, while red, black and yellow in color did not feature the official German flag. But the mood was very festive nonetheless! There were two bandstands, one at either end of the party area. Food stands (from Haribo to wurst to cocktails) lined the street, as well as antique cars and t-shirt vendors. Just a note, the official Oct. 3 celebration rotates from state to state this year and this year the party was in Brandenburg. The mood may or may not have been different there.

I was most fascinated to see a new motto on display at the festivities: "Fanclub Deutschland: Das Land der Ideen." Though I don't think this needs a translation, it is, "Fan club Germany: the land of ideas." I love this slogan! My very first thought was that this is a far better slogan than say, "Krauts No More." But more than that, I think it somehow balances a dislike of overt nationalism with a right to be proud of the accomplishments of one's country.

My thoughts about German nationalism continued later in the evening, when I caught a documentary on television about the German national anthem. The learning of the national anthem is not a part of the lesson plan in school until 5th grade. The adults interviewed for the documentary seemed split on the need for an anthem and when and where it should be sung.

I wonder how people celebrated the 4th of July in 1777, or in 1941 when the day officially became a holiday? Will Germans ever parade through the streets singing "God Bless Germany?" Probably not! But do they need to? Should they? I will ponder those important questions as I eat a falafel sandwich for dinner tonight:-)


At 11:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At 4:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am still partial to the "Krauts no more" motto that you mentioned. Just kidding! (sort of) I remember unification day being very understated while I was in Munich, so I wonder if being in the capital, or Brandenburg this year really does give the day a unique atmosphere?

At 7:45 AM, Anonymous Robert said...

Maybe I didn't get your text right, but I think there is a small 'misstake'.
The border between DDR and BRD was opened on November 9, 1989 but reunification was on October 3, 1990.
Till October 1990 DDR and BRD were two 'independent' countries.
So the lake between the two dates is right.

At 10:17 AM, Blogger Erin said...

Robert, you are of course correct regarding the date that Germany officially became one country. I probably should have explained this better. Though I would argue that if Germany could celebrate on Nov. 9 they would. Americans usually know only to associate the unification of Germany with images of the Wall coming down.
Thanks for reading and commenting!

At 4:56 PM, Anonymous tanya said...

a small Washington publication has made the Day of Unity the equivalent of Oktoberfest. At least they covered it at all ...

At 8:11 PM, Anonymous michael said...

Hm, concerning that flag waving parade stuff: In my eyes something like that just wouldn't "feel right". I don't know, I wouldn't feel great. I like living here but I feel no need to wave or even show flag because of that.

Somehow the 3rd October is just a day to sleep long. Nobody cares, at least not very many people. Maybe you think about some sentimental stuff concerning the fall of the Berlin Wall and the following reunification process. But that's it.

Oh, and of course, this year the sunday before the 3rd October was a great day to visit the Octoberfest. Indeed. (No, I wasn't there.)

At 12:49 PM, Blogger Nikki Bouvier said...

ive never done this before
this is soo cool... im doing a project on Germany in school. im in the U.S. i chose Germany because it rox out loud and my favorite band is going to be performing there.

At 1:14 PM, Blogger Nikki Bouvier said...



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