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Politicians pay tribute to 'East German courage'

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Photo: DPA
15:37 CEST+02:00
Germany celebrated 22 years of unity on Wednesday, an event which was marked by a moving speech down in Munich from Bundestag President Norbert Lammert, who called on Europe to go forward together.

Munich held this year's official celebrations, which kicked off in the morning with a service in St Michael's church in the city centre. Speeches from Lammert, and the Bavarian State Premier Horst Seehofer followed, as top politicians including Chancellor Angela Merkel watched.

“Europe should not be knocking down any more walls, instead we need calm, far-sighted policies to bring the country together,” said Lammert in front of the audience in the Munich State Opera House.

He called for further development of the EU regarding integration and reminded the crowd that it had not been overlooked in the wake of the euro crisis.

“Europe is more than an administration, more than a much-chided bureaucracy, more than guidelines and more than treaties. And it is a lot more than the euro,” he said. The single currency was, he said, an important way to develop political and economic unity. It could not replace joint values and shared history, Der Spiegel said on Wednesday.

Europe needs courage that spans over the member states and remains unshakable, said Lammert. For this “citizens who are engaged in similar ideas for Europe were vital,” he added.

He praised how far the country had come, but stressed that there was still a lot to do. The successes and achievements reached after German unification were clearly visible, though.

German President Joachim Gauck was also present at the proceedings. He watched as Seehofer called the fall of the Berlin Wall “the shining hour of my political life.” He said he had been waiting for it his entire life.

Seehofer also praised the courage of those living under communist rule in the former German Democratic Republic (GDR). He said that the way in which they had mastered life in the newly German states was “worthy of respect.”

During the morning church service in St Michaels, Cardinal Reinard Marx told the congregation to remember that “we are not just German, we are European.”

“Without European society there would never have been German unity.” Yet a unified Germany was one of “give and take.”

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In Berlin, thousands descended on the Brandenburg Gate in the centre of the city for celebrations.

The Local/jcw

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