Willkommen auf den Seiten des Auswärtigen Amts
„Der Erfolg hat viele Väter“, as a German saying goes, which literally means success has many fathers!
Congratulations to the initiators and implementers of this great project and many thanks for their wonderful teamwork (coordinated by Professor Dan Dungaciu).
It wasn´t easy at all, since there aren´t left too many such pieces of the wall. It took some real detective work to find one, and then get it here in time.
So, from today and on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall, Bucharest finally has its own original piece of the Wall. And this piece has found a prominent location here in the courtyard of the Romanian Academy!
It symbolizes the recognition of the historic role played by courageous men and women both in the capital and in Romania as a whole in the fight for freedom in 1989.
Beyond that, the Wall, and respectively any small piece of it, has become an internationally recognized icon of world history.
But what does this icon really stand for? Or more precisely, what do we want it to stand for?
Let me start by stressing what it should definitely not stand for: a curiously painted piece of concrete, coveted only for decorative reasons.
So here, Ladies and Gentlemen, is my threefold answer to that question. I believe think the icon should stand for:
- The immense joy of overcoming despotic regimes and dismantling an Iron Curtain that had divided Europe and large parts of the world for over four decades.
- The fear and oppression the Wall represented when any attempt to escape from behind this wall often meant death or imprisonment. By this, we pay respect to the many victims in numerous countries up to the very last moment of the existence of this wall.
- The obligation to dedicate our best efforts towards defending our free, peaceful and united Europe of today against any tendencies, from within and without our countries, to split us up and lead us back to patterns of East versus West.
The reason to rejoice: The 9 Nov 1989 is one of those days in history – some tragic, some euphoric - where everyone knows where they were right at that particular moment.
Who would have thought - even a few weeks, a few days before the event -, that the wall would ever be brought down?
Of course, there were signs, even prominent signs: The freedom movements and civil uprisings in former GDR, Poland, Czechoslovakia or Hungary. The role of the city of Leipzig and its famous „Monday Demonstrations“ in October ´89, which establish a certain parallel with the role of Timisoara in the Romanian Revolution a bit later that year.
All these were clear indicators that something was going to happen. And yet, the old mental paradigms proved very strong. And then, it did happen, overnight, triggered by the proverbial butterfly effect.
I myself was far away at that time, on my first foreign posting in Ghana, West-Africa, and yet I will forever remember this incredible feeling of joy I experienced even thousands of kilometers away from home.
Then, the icon should make us remember the aggressive face of cold war times. Let´s not be misled by the friendly, colorful, smiling front of our icon. The reality behind was quite grim.
One of my strongest „political“ childhood memories refers back to the moment when my parents took me to the visitors´ platform just west of the Brandenburg Gate, from where one could look into a rather grey East Berlin while being observed by GDR border guards from the nearby watch towers. And the Brandenburg Gate was nowhere near the pleasant, beige colored, friendly-looking building it is today. It was dark, blackened by fumes over the years, isolated from any other building around and, of course, completely locked up!
And what was true for Eastern Germany, was even more true, in many ways, for Romania, especially the Romania of the eighties, where people lived in dire straits due to an autocratic communist regime and leadership that had no regard for the needs of the people.
No, this isn´t a cute little historic icon that mildly reminds us of the good old times. It is an icon that rather reminds us of what kind of enormous energy, courage and determination it took to overcome those difficult years.
Finally, the icon should remind us of our moral obligation to strive to defend and safeguard what that generation built for our benefit and the benefit of our children: A democratic Europe in peace, broad political unity and economic and social welfare that had no precedent in history.
Especially, since this Europe, today, is under attack from many ends! By populist voices that suggest to us all too easy answers to the complex questions of our modern world. That put the „me first“ before the „all of us together“, the unilateral egoistic approach before the multilateral pattern of searching for compromise and international understanding.
And by voices that leave us confused, fearful and under the wrong impression that all had been so much easier before and that we can´t change anything anyway.
In conclusion, these three meanings of our wall icon lead me to one final appeal:
It´s today, more than ever, that we need the joyful energy and determination of the „freedom fighters“ of those days, men and women, to defend and fight for our joint European future.
It´s today that we need to remember and tell our children what it took to overcome the wall and what the world really looked like behind the iron curtain.
And it´s today that we should be encouraged by some very promising examples of a young generation ready to fight for their future, as we could see, for example, during the European elections here in Romania in May this year when 50 per cent more people than four years ago participated in those elections. And among them many young ones, some of them voting for the first time altogether.
So, dear friends, don´t let fear get the better of you. If, 30 years ago, our parents and grandparents were able to bring down the Berlin wall, the least we should be able to do today is hold our unique peace project Europe together and intact.
May this original piece of the Berlin wall, brought to Bucharest by a great team effort, from now on stand in the city´s landscape as an icon for Romania´s role in the fight for freedom in 1989 and for the firm belief in our ability to shape the future in the way we want it for our children!