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Protocol Office Article Day of Ger­man Uni­ty

The successful popular uprising in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) and East Berlin in autumn 1989 – the "peaceful revolution" – laid the foundation for restoring the national unity of Germany.

Against the background of reform in the Soviet Union (Mikhail Gorbachev’s policy of glasnost, perestroika and "new thinking") and its rejection by the leadership of the Socialist Unity Party (SED) in the GDR, the exodus of East Germans and the mass protests that had begun late in the summer of 1989 intensified. In October/November, the demonstrations led to the resignation of the SED Politburo and the replacement of the Stoph government.

On 9 November 1989 the Berlin Wall fell. In free and secret elections held on 18 March 1990, the people of the GDR elected a new People’s Chamber (parliament), which on 23 August 1990 voted in favour of the GDR's accession to the Federal Republic of Germany in accordance with Article 23 of the Basic Law (old version). This step was preceded by the establishment of a monetary, economic and social union as of 1 July 1990 and the conclusion of negotiations on the Treaty between the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic on the Establishment of German Unity (Unification Treaty).

At the international level, reunification was possible because of support from Germany's allies, above all the U.S. led by President George H.W. Bush. On 12 September 1990, the foreign ministers of the two German governments and of France, the U.K., the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. signed the Treaty on the Final Settlement with Germany ("Two Plus Four Treaty") ending the rights and responsibilities of the Four Powers with regard to Berlin and Germany as a whole.

Under the Unification Treaty it was agreed that the GDR would accede to the territory of application of the Basic Law effective 3 October 1990. At the same time, pursuant to Chapter 1, Article 2 (2) of the Treaty, this day was designated a public holiday known as the Day of German Unity, thus replacing 17 June as the national holiday of the Germans. 

At midnight on 3 October 1990, the flag of German unity was raised for the first time on the Platz der Republik in front of the Reichstag building, initially on a provisional wooden flagpole. This flagpole was replaced in December 1990 by a metal pole with a pedestal bearing the inscription Deutsche Einheit 3. Oktober 1990 (“German unity 3 October 1990”).

In keeping with the federal principle, the heads of the federal and state governments agreed that the festivities on 3 October would be organized each year by the Land holding the presidency of the Bundesrat (the representative body of the Länder) at that time. This arrangement gives each state the opportunity to organize a national celebration in its own way and on its own overall responsibility.

The Federal Government’s Protocol Office at the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community coordinates the arrangements between the constitutional bodies of the Federation and represents the federal interests vis-à-vis the state organizing the celebration.

Representatives from the political sphere and society as well as delegations of citizens attend the official state ceremony, which is jointly hosted by the Bundesrat and an additional federal constitutional body; a public festival offers the general population an opportunity to take part in the celebration as well.

On the Day of German Unity, flags are displayed throughout the country at the highest federal authorities and the agencies within their remit as well as at the public-law corporations, institutions and foundations under the supervision of federal authorities.



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