Primary Sources

Remarks Celebrating the Reunification of Germany


On October 3, 1990, the East and West German states officially united into a single sovereign state—the Federal Republic of Germany. The terms for unification were hammered out in a series of agreements including both the Unification Treaty, that dealt with domestic issues, and the Two-Plus-Four Agreement, that dealt with issues of foreign policy. In a Rose Garden ceremony at the White House, U.S. President George H. W. Bush proclaimed October 3 as "German-American Day" and used this opportunity to reinforce the long history of close ties and shared values between the two nations.


George H. W. Bush, "Remarks on Signing the German-American Day Proclamation at a White House Ceremony Celebrating the Reunification of Germany," speech, The White House, Washington, D.C., October 3, 1990, Bush Presidential Library, Documents and Papers, Bush Library (accessed May 14, 2008).

Primary Source—Excerpt

Remarks on Signing the German-American Day Proclamation at a White House Ceremony Celebrating Reunification of Germany

October 3, 1990


I just hung up from talking to Chancellor Helmut Kohl, and I told him that on this very special day the people of America send their heartiest congratulations to all Germans. Even as we meet here in our Rose Garden, Germans are celebrating their new unity from Berlin to Bonn, from Munich to Bremen, from the urban plazas of Leipzig to the golden vineyards along the hills of the Rhine.

And throughout this newly united nation, Germans celebrate a wonderful moment, delayed for almost half a century. And as part of that celebration, I've sent a video address to the people of Germany -- sentiments that I'd like to just share with you here today briefly.

For 45 years, at the heart of a divided continent lived a divided people. A cruel wall of concrete literally cut off neighbor from neighbor, husband from wife, child from parent, a nation from itself. And on this fault line on the East-West conflict, one people split literally between two worlds. And as the German people suffered through this long ordeal, Americans were much more than sympathetic observers. After all, we are united by bonds of culture that reach back to the early colonial times, when Germans first became German-Americans.


And after all, our own country once lived under oppression. We remember John Peter Zenger, a young German-American newspaper editor who dared to challenge authority way back in 1734. And it was this same German immigrant who helped America established our most cherished tradition, freedom of speech.

And so, now, Ambassador Ruhfus, when East Germans were punished for dissent, we shared your spirit of defiance. And when German people were shot for attempting to flee to freedom, we shared your outrage. And when West German leaders dared to hope for a Germany united in freedom, we shared your dream.

And so, I guess what we're here to do is to affirm that dreams sometimes do come true. Germany is united; Germany is free. This day was very clearly envisioned by Konrad Adenauer, who said that a solution to a divided Germany is only possible with the help of our friends. And over the decades, Adenauer's vision of a friendship between Germany and the United States, between Germany and the free peoples of the world, has indeed been realized. And this moment has come because Americans stood by the people of Berlin, from the daredevil pilots of the airlift to a young President who made his bold declaration before the Wall.


This has been a year of change for America; for a united Germany; for the Atlantic alliance, of which we are both a part. And I'm certain that our two nations will meet the challenges of the future as we have in the past: as partners in leadership. This day, so meaningful for Germany, also inspires the world. Meters away from the walls of the Reichstadt, scene of the first session of the newly reunited German Parliament, stood the Berlin Wall. For years free men and women everywhere dreamed of the day that the Berlin Wall would cease to exist, when a world without the Wall would mean a Germany made whole once more, and when Germany, united and sovereign, would contribute in full measure as a force for peace and stability in world affairs.

Well, today it is the Wall that lies in ruins, and our eyes open on a new world of hope. The last remnants of the Wall remain there at the heart of a free Berlin, a ragged monument in brick and barbed wire; proof that no wall is ever strong enough to strangle the human spirit, that no wall can ever crush a nation's soul. And this is my message to the German people, and that is the heartfelt sentiment of the American people.


How to Cite this Source

President George H. W. Bush, "Remarks Celebrating the Reunification of Germany," Making the History of 1989, Item #41, (accessed May 28 2021, 3:26 pm).

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