German Unity Day!
Today, the 3rd October, is German Unity Day or Tag der Deutschen Einheit as it is known in Germany. This German national holiday is in commemoration of East and West Germany being officially reunified on 3rd October 1990 after 40 years of separation.
Germany was split into East Germany (or DDR – Deutsche Demokratische Republik / GDR – German Democratic Republic in English) and West Germany (or BRD – Bundesrepublik Deutschland / FRG – Federal Republic of Germany in English) in 1949. This was after Germany (and Berlin) had been split into 4 sections, with each section controlled by a member of the allied forces – USA, Great Britain, France and USSR. The USSR blockaded their section of Berlin and division commenced. After the blockade was ended, a wall was built around the part of Berlin controlled by the USSR and the rest of the country was also divided in two sections – East (the USSR-controlled section of Germany) and the West (the French, British and American-controlled sections of Germany).
German Unity day is celebrated throughout the whole of Germany and usually consists of speeches by politicians, fireworks, concerts and a Bürgerfest (citizen parties not burger parties!). Each year, an observance is held in the capital of one of the 16 states (whichever state is presiding over the Bundesrat that year). As it is a public hoilday, post offices, banks and many businesses are closed.
The Brandenburg Gate in Berlin is a main symbol of the division and reformation of Germany along with the Berlin wall. There are often lots of events around the Brandenburg gate and the celebrations fall in the middle of a four-day-long folk festival in the area.
Mosques have also taken to opening to the general public on 3rd October to try and encourage more interaction between Muslims and Non-Muslims, and what better day than on a national day of unity!
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