October 3rd 1990 was the first German Unity Day to mark the reunification of East and West Germany at the end of the Cold War. Though Germans aren’t known to celebrate the day with gaudy displays of patriotism, various cities are commemorating the holiday with music, art and more.
Here’s a look at what to expect.
Where: Römerberg and Paulsplatz
When: October 2nd at 3pm to October 4th
Frankfurt is actually the place to be to celebrate reunification this year, with Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Joachim Gauck, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and even European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in attendance.
Why, you might ask? It’s a tradition that each year since 1990, the major national celebration takes place in the state of the sitting president of the Bundesrat (the upper house of the German parliament). Since the current president, Volker Bouffier, is from Hesse, the big party is taking place in the state’s largest city, Frankfurt.
The festivities in Germany’s financial hub will swing into action on Friday, with a concert by Frankfurt singer Namika, followed by a performance by German rapper CRO.
Merkel and Gauck will take the stage at about noon on Saturday to greet the anticipated one million visitors and officially mark 25 years since Germany became one again. Those in attendance will also get to hear stories from Michael Schlosser, who built an aeroplane to try to escape from former East Germany to the West.
More concerts will follow on Saturday, in particular from German pop singer Sarah Connor. The music will continue through Sunday evening, including big band style and folk music.
Where: Brandenburg Gate
When: October 2nd at 10am until October 4th
Berliners celebrate the very first German Unity Day on October 3rd 1990. Photo: DPA.
The German capital is perhaps one of the most visible reminders of the country’s Cold War past, where reunification meant the end of a divided city once and for all.
The iconic Brandenburg Gate is a significant part of this history – the Berlin Wall once ran alongside the monument and it’s where Ronald Reagan delivered his famous speech declaring “Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”
So it is no surprise that the focal point of this year’s celebration will be the Gate, kicking off on Friday free concerts performing “20 years of top hits”.
On German Unity Day itself, the street fest will continue with more parades, concerts, karaoke and beer gardens, ending on Sunday with German Schlager music, including Olaf Henning and Ute Freudenberg.
Leipzig residents in 2010 remember the Monday demonstration of October 9th 1989 that helped rally support for bringing down the Berlin Wall. Photo: DPA.
When: October 3rd from 11am
Leipzig was the start of the peaceful Monday demonstrations against the East Germany regime, putting pressure on the government to ultimately bring down the Berlin Wall. The city is celebrating this year under the theme of “Unity in Diversity” as part of a week-long series of cultural events until Sunday. October 3rd kicks off with musical and dance performances by swing, jazz, Ukrainian, Jewish, Roma, Latin and Greek groups.
Churches, like the Nikolaikirche (St. Nicholas Church) where the Monday demonstrations took root, are also hosting events throughout the day. And there will be discussion sessions about current topics like refugees and integration.
When: October 3rd and 4th from 11am
Hanover is celebrating 25 years of German unity along with its Fall Festival, which features jazz and swing music, as well as a flea market and special German Unity event at the town hall.
People in Bonn celebrate in 2011, when the city hosted the national German Unity day celebrations. Photo: DPA.
Where: Haus der Geschichte der Bundesrepublik Deutschland (House of the German Republic’s History)
When: October 3rd at 10.30am
As the former provisional capital of West Germany during the time of the Iron Curtain, Bonn represents the site where many important decisions happened that led to eventual reunification – and the city’s eventual unseating as capital to Berlin.
While the main parties are taking place in Frankfurt and Berlin, Bonn is throwing a more low-key bash with a Museum Fest to celebrate unity. There will be free exhibits, a discussion session where people can share their memories about October 3rd and a concert at 6pm.
Where: Hafen Reisholz and Johanneskirche
When: October 3rd from 4pm at Hafen Reisholz, 6pm at Johanneskirche
A couple of smaller events are happening in Düsseldorf with the opening of an art exhibit about 25 years of German Unity and connections to the current refugee crisis, as well as a multi-faith service at Johanneskirche.