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Richard von Weizsäcker on the Meaning of Unification (October 3, 1990)

During the Berlin unification celebrations, Federal President Richard von Weizsäcker delivered a speech in which he praised the realization of external unity while calling for further efforts to achieve internal unity. His remarks were published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung the following day.

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Serving World Peace in a United Europe
The speech given by the Federal President on the occasion of the official state celebration of the Day of German Unity on October 3, 1990, in Berlin

The preamble to our constitution, which applies to all Germans from this day on, includes the decisive words that move us today:

In free self-determination, we realize the unity and freedom of Germany. We hope to serve world peace in a united Europe. In our tasks, we are aware of our responsibility before God and humanity.

From the bottom of our hearts, we feel gratitude and joy – and at the same time a great, serious obligation. The history of Europe and Germany now offers us a chance that never existed before. We are experiencing one of the very rare historical periods in which things can truly be changed for the better. Let us not forget for a moment what this means to us.

There are pressing concerns here and abroad; we will not ignore this. We take our neighbors’ reservations seriously. We also sense how difficult it will be to live up to the expectations that are coming from all directions. But we do not want to, and will not, be steered by fear and doubt, but instead by confidence. What is decisive here is our firm resolve to recognize our tasks with clarity and to tackle them together. This resolve gives us the strength to bring our everyday problems into proper relationship with our past and future in Europe.

For the first time, we Germans are not a point of contention on the European agenda. Our unity was not forced, but peacefully negotiated. It is part of a historical, pan-European process that aims to achieve the freedom of all peoples and a new, peaceful order on our continent. We Germans hope to serve this goal. Our unity is dedicated to it.

We now have a state that we no longer consider provisional and whose identity and integrity are no longer disputed by our neighbors.

On this day, the united German nation takes its acknowledged place in Europe. [ . . . ]

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