Primary Sources

Reacting to German Reunification


On October 3, 1990, the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) and the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) were reunified as one single state, recreating a country that had not existed since the end of World War II. The divide between East Germany and West Germany had been both a political event and also a symbolic one, between Western democracies and Eastern Communist countries. The Berlin Wall may have been the most famous symbol of this divide, splitting the capital city in half. As such an important site of Cold War conflict, tearing down the Berlin Wall to reconnect the city in November 1989 was one of the most important moments that year. Less than one year later, the two Germanies reunified, beginning the process of reintegrating Eastern Europe into the West. On such an important day, U.S. President George Bush called the German Chancellor, Helmut Kohl, to add his congratulations to the festivities.


George H. W. Bush, conversation with Helmut Kohl, 3 October 1990, Bush Presidential Library, Public Papers, Bush Library (accessed April 2, 2008).

Primary Source—Excerpt

The President: Helmut! I am sitting in a meeting with members of our Congress and am calling at the end of this historic day to wish you well.

Chancellor Kohl: Things are going very, very well. I am in Berlin. There were one million people here last night at the very spot where the Wall used to stand -- and where President Reagan called on Mr. Gorbachev to open this gate. Words can' t describe the feeling. The weather is very nice and warm fortunately. There were large crowds of young people. Eighty percent were under thirty. It was fantastic.

A short time ago there was enormous applause when our President said that our gratitude was owed especially to our Allied friends and above all our American friends. I share that view. When the parliamentary declaration is made, it will say that all American Presidents from Harry Truman all the way up to our friend George Bush made this possible. I would like to thank you again for all your support for us. . . .

How to Cite this Source

President George H. W. Bush, "Reacting to German Reunification," Making the History of 1989, Item #4, (accessed May 28 2021, 3:26 pm).

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