Munich hosts celebrations for Day of German Unity
(© picture alliance / Eventpress Ha)
Two Italians stand in the middle of a crowd peppered with Lederhosen and Dirndl dresses, astonished. “C’è la Merkel” (“That’s Merkel”) they call out, craning their necks above the crowd to get a better look and try to take a picture of the German Chancellor. The two young men are actually here on Marienplatz in Munich for the world-famous original Oktoberfest, but running into Angela Merkel on a stroll about town was a welcome surprise. “Sorella Merkel” (“sister Merkel”) they shout out enthusiastically to the Chancellor. She had just come from an ecumenical church service for German Unity Day and was making her way through the throngs of people, many of whom were visitors from abroad.
Munich’s city center was filled to bursting on Wednesday, with Germans and foreigners alike celebrating the world-renowned Oktoberfest and the German national October 3rd celebrations. It was exactly this kind of international atmosphere that perfectly framed this year’s German Unity Day. Officials of both the unity service and the unity celebration were not only observing 22 years of German unification, but they were making a deep pledge to European unity. Enlarge image (© picture alliance / Eventpress Ha)
Already during the service in St. Michael’s church, Munich Cardinal Reinhard Marx made reference to the connection between the European community and German unification. “We do not make our way alone as Germans, but we make our way as Europeans”, said the Archbishop for Munich and the northern lying town of Freising.
On Wednesday during the official celebrations, Bundestag President Norbert Lammert called on citizens for greater involvement in the “collective idea of Europe”: “The further development of Europe is within German interests.” He made it clear that there was no convincing alternative to Europe. But he insisted that a broad and basic discussion was needed on the topic over “which kind of Europe we want to live in future.”
Enlarge image (© picture alliance / dpa) Bavarian Governor Horst Seehofer, acting President of the Bundesrat (German upper parliament), hosted the central national unity celebration and also spoke of bringing the German Federal Republic closer to Europe: “Together with our European friends we all have a chance for a bright future.”
At one point the Bavarian State Orchestra started to play. Led by the state opera house’s general music director Kent Nagano, the end of Ludwig van Beethoven’s 9th Symphony rang out, the choir of the Bavarian State Opera singing “Ode to Joy”. “Alle Menschen werden Brüder” they sing, “all humans will someday be brothers” – it is a Bavarian, German and European anthem.