German Unity Day, or Tag der Deutschen Einheit in German, is the national day of Germany, celebrated annually on October 3. The day commemorates the anniversary of German reunification in 1990, when the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) and the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) were unified, so that for the first time since 1945 there existed a single German state.
German Unity Day is a public holiday in Germany with various festivities, including concerts, parades, and public speeches. The main celebrations occur in the capital city of the state holding the presidency of the Bundesrat, the upper house of Germany’s parliament, which rotates annually among the federal states.
After World War II, Germany was divided into four sectors controlled by the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and the Soviet Union. The sectors controlled by the former three countries merged to form West Germany (Federal Republic of Germany) while the sector controlled by the Soviet Union formed East Germany (German Democratic Republic).
For decades, the separation of Germany into two states was a significant symbol of the Cold War. This came to an end in the late 20th century. The fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989, marked a significant turning point. After a year of negotiations, the Unification Treaty was signed and led to the official reunification on October 3, 1990.
The decision to celebrate the day of unity on October 3 was made by the Volkskammer (the parliament of the GDR) on August 23, 1990.
Each year, the main celebrations of German Unity Day rotate among the sixteen federal states. The festivities include a ceremonial act with speeches, a citizens’ festival, and various other events. The day is marked by various symbols of unity and freedom, such as the Brandenburg Gate, which was once a symbol of division but is now a symbol of German unity.
In addition to the main events, local celebrations, parades, and cultural displays take place across the country. Many people also use the day to reflect on the country’s reunification and what it means for them.
German Unity Day serves as a reminder of the country’s division during the Cold War and celebrates the unity that was achieved in 1990. The day is a symbol of how far the country has come and an opportunity to reflect on Germany’s role in the world as a promoter of peace and democracy.
- Before reunification, West Germany celebrated June 17 as a day of remembrance for the Uprising of 1953 in East Germany, and East Germany celebrated the day of the establishment of the GDR on October 7 as their national day.
- The Berlin Wall stood for a total of 10,316 days, and as of October 3, 2021, it has been down for the same length of time.