East and West Unite

Germany: East and West Unite

Throughout the Cold War, many Germans, East and West, kept hope alive for national unification. President George H.W. Bush and Secretary of State James Baker III endorsed Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s 1989 proposal seeking unity, despite resistance from Britain and France. U.S. and German diplomats worked collegially together on the Two Plus Four Agreement – Two Germanys and Four Allies, finally bringing an end to conflict that emerged in post-War Germany. On Aug. 31, 1990, two Germanys signed a Unification Treaty and on Oct. 1, 1990, the Allies suspended rights to Germany. On October 3, East and West Germany joined together. A new national holiday was born.

Germany: East and West Unite

Throughout the Cold War, many Germans, East and West, kept hope alive for national unification. President George H.W. Bush and Secretary of State James Baker III endorsed Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s 1989 proposal seeking unity, despite resistance from Britain and France. U.S. and German diplomats worked collegially together on the Two Plus Four Agreement – Two Germanys and Four Allies, finally bringing an end to conflict that emerged in post-War Germany. On Aug. 31, 1990, two Germanys signed a Unification Treaty and on Oct. 1, 1990, the Allies suspended rights to Germany. On October 3, East and West Germany joined together. A new national holiday was born.

Germany: East and West Unite

The Turning

The Turning

“Die Wende” or “The Turning” in German unity was more like a turning process than a single point in time. Things “turned” in 1989 with mass protests for human rights, escapes through Eastern Europe, the Wall tumbling and Berlin checkpoints opening. In 1990 the turn continued with democratic elections in East Germany, negotiated treaties to implement German unity and the joining of East German states with West Germany. For many, the term has come to symbolize German unity itself.
East Germans atop the Berlin Wall in 1989 display the sign in English, “COME TOGETHER."

David Fischer, Consul General, Munich

Oral History

David Fischer, Consul General, Munich

East Germans atop the Berlin Wall in 1989 display the sign in English, “COME TOGETHER." U.S. diplomat David Fischer, Munich, described how U.S. Ambassador Vernon Walters, Bonn, recognized the importance of German longing for national unity.
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AP

East German demonstrators holding a banner reading "One Germany"

East German pro-unification demonstrators

Photograph

East German pro-unification demonstrators

East German demonstrators hold a banner reading "One Germany" in a peaceful rally in Dresden, Germany.
Artist Jeff Koterba depicts the fall of the Berlin Wall that suddenly was as "dead as a dinosaur."

The extinct Berlin Wall

Museum Artifact

The extinct Berlin Wall

Artist Jeff Koterba depicts the fall of the Berlin Wall that suddenly was as "dead as a dinosaur."
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North American Syndicate

“We Did Believe”

“We Did Believe”

U.S. diplomats, following the lead of President George H. W. Bush and Secretary James Baker III, believed in supporting German unification. New evidence, however, reveals that Britain’s Margaret Thatcher secretly visited Gorbachev and France’s Mitterrand, stating, “We do not want a united Germany.” A primary U.S. concern of German unity, according to diplomat Geoffrey Chapman, was Germany opting out of NATO. In the end, after determined negotiation, Germany remained in NATO.

Robert Zoellick, Counselor under Secretary of State James Baker, III, played a leading role in conducting Two Plus Four negotiations for the U.S. His counterpart, Dieter Kastrup, was Director for Political Affairs under Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, who has offered a German perspective here on the outcome of the negotiations. Other countries participating were East Germany, Britain, France, and the Soviet Union.
Secretary of State James Baker meets with German Chancellor Helmut Kohl

Margaret Tutwiler, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs

Oral History

Margaret Tutwiler, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs

Secretary of State James Baker met with German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, to discuss the next steps toward German unity. U.S. diplomat Margaret Tutwiler in Washington, D.C., explained her view on the understated reaction to historic events in Germany by U.S. officials.
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AP

From left to right are: Vernon Walters (U.S.), Sir Christopher Mallaby (Great Britain), Wjatsheslav Kotshemassov (Soviet Union) and Serge Boidevais (France).

J.D. Bindenagel, Deputy Chief of Mission, East Berlin

Oral History

J.D. Bindenagel, Deputy Chief of Mission, East Berlin

The four Allied ambassadors to West Germany in Berlin convened in 1989 at the Allied Control Council Headquarters (Kommandatura) to discuss the city’s future. From left to right are: Vernon Walters (U.S.), Sir Christopher Mallaby (Great Britain), Wjatsheslav Kotshemassov (Soviet Union) and Serge Boidevais (France). U.S. diplomat J.D. Bindenagel, East Berlin, recalled the strong West German reaction to their meeting.
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AP

Image of the delegation posing for the press

Two Plus Four delegates

Photograph

Two Plus Four delegates

The delegation for the first Two Plus Four negotiations poses for the press in Bonn, West Germany. From right to left: Dieter Kastrup (West Germany), John Weston (Great Britain), Anatoli Leonidovich Adamachin (USSR), Bertrand Dururcq (France), Hans-Dietrich Genscher (West Germany), Ernst Krabatsch (East Germany) and Robert Zoellick (USA).
the German Unification Treaty

German Unification Treaty

Photograph

German Unification Treaty

Richard Karl von Weizsäcker, President of the Federal Republic of Germany, signed the German Unification Treaty on the left side and signatures of the Federal Ministers appear on the right.
West German Secretary of State Wolfgang Schaeuble (left), his East German counterpart Guenther Krause (right) and East German Prime Minister Lothar de Maizire (center) symbolically holding hands

Signing of the German Unification Treaty

Photograph

Signing of the German Unification Treaty

West German Secretary of State Wolfgang Schaeuble (left), his East German counterpart Guenther Krause (right) and East German Prime Minister Lothar de Maizire (center) symbolically holding hands following the signing of the German unification treaty in East Berlin.
Pictured are Roland Dumas (France), Eduard Shevardnadze (Soviet Union), James Baker III (U.S.), Hans-Dieter Genscher (West Germany), Lothar de Maizière (East Germany) and Douglas Hurd (Great Britain) with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, center.

U.S. Diplomat G. Jonathan Greenwald, Political Counselor, East Berlin

Oral History

U.S. Diplomat G. Jonathan Greenwald, Political Counselor, East Berlin

Foreign ministers signing the Two Plus Four Treaty in 1990 celebrate the move toward German unification. Pictured are Roland Dumas (France), Eduard Shevardnadze (Soviet Union), James Baker III (U.S.), Hans-Dieter Genscher (West Germany), Lothar de Maizière (East Germany) and Douglas Hurd (Great Britain) with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, center. U.S. G. Jonathan Greenwald, East Berlin, clarified the significance of the treaty’s title.

New Era, New Embassy

New Era, New Embassy

In 1990, two U.S. embassies and the Berlin mission consolidated into one diplomatic post. The new U.S. Embassy compound in Berlin, opened in 2008, was built near the historic Brandenburg Gate on the site of the previous embassy (destroyed during the War). Released police (Stasi) files revealed that spies operating in both East and West Berlin focused on U.S. diplomats. In the transition period, Ambassador Richard C. Barkley made sure that Checkpoint Charlie, the U.S. crossing point in a divided Berlin, moved to a fitting new home as a museum, “to make sure that it is not portrayed in a humiliating way for the Russians.”
The diplomatic flag

U.S. Minister’s flag, Berlin

Museum Artifact

U.S. Minister’s flag, Berlin

This diplomatic flag represents the diplomatic position of U.S. Minister. This flag has a unique history, as Ambassador Harry J. Gilmore was the last U.S. Minister to use this flag while serving in West Berlin in 1989.
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Loan to the National Museum of American Diplomacy from Harry J. Gilmore (Photo by Alex Jamison)

U.S. Ambassador John Kornblum prepares the new Berlin embassy sign.

Harold W. Geisel, Counselor for Administration, Bonn

Oral History

Harold W. Geisel, Counselor for Administration, Bonn

After the U.S. Embassy East Berlin closed in 1990, Bonn was the site of the only remaining U.S. embassy in Germany. In 1999, the U.S. embassy moved again, from Bonn back to Berlin. In this 1999 photo, U.S. Ambassador John Kornblum prepares the new Berlin embassy sign. U.S. diplomat in Bonn, Harold Geisel, described how he handled closing the U.S. Embassy East Berlin in 1990.
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AP

The U.S. Information Agency published Problems of Communism, a bimonthly journal

Problems of Communism: Toward a Postcommunist World

Museum Artifact

Problems of Communism: Toward a Postcommunist World

The U.S. Information Agency published Problems of Communism, a bimonthly journal, during the Cold War. Toward a Post Communist World was the subject of a 1992 conference marking the journal’s 40 years in print. The journal continues today with a different publisher under the name Problems of Post-Communism, keeping in step with the new era now that the "Iron Curtain" has fallen.
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Department of State, Bureau of International Information Programs

U.S. Minister to West Berlin Harry Gilmore (left); U.S. Minister to East Berlin, J.D. Bindenagel (right), and West German Political Director Dieter Kastrup (center) attending the Decommissioning of Checkpoint Charlie, Berlin.

Checkpoint Charlie decommissioning ceremony

Photograph

Checkpoint Charlie decommissioning ceremony

Attending the Decommissioning of Checkpoint Charlie, Berlin, were the U.S. Minister to West Berlin Harry Gilmore (left); U.S. Minister to East Berlin, J.D. Bindenagel (right), and West German Political Director Dieter Kastrup (center).
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Courtesy of J.D. Bindenagel

Effects of Freedom

Effects of Freedom

Twenty years of unity has not completely closed the psychological divide between Eastern and Western Germans, even after West Germany provided billions in financial assistance to aid economic integration. Despite diplomatic efforts, treaties cannot dictate opinions. Growing business ventures in Eastern Germany and the region’s resurging economy, however, are helping to close economic disparity. U.S. diplomats maintain close relations with a united Germany, sharing concerns about the global economy, environment and security.
Friendship Barbie Doll, in box

Friendship Barbie Doll, in box

Museum Artifact

Friendship Barbie Doll, in box

It is not known if Friendship Barbie celebrated the collapse of the Wall with her friend Summit Diplomat Barbie, but both dolls made a popular culture statement in 1990 about the end of Cold War. Friendship Barbie was sold only in Berlin and East Germany. The words on the back of the box read, "Barbie welcomes friends from all over the world."
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Collections of the National Museum of American Diplomacy (Photo by Alex Jamison)

A passerby in Berlin crosses a memorial strip near the Brandenburg Gate where the Wall once stood.

Berlin Wall underfoot

Photograph

Berlin Wall underfoot

A passerby in Berlin crosses a memorial strip near the Brandenburg Gate where the Wall once stood.
Fragments of the Berlin Wall, in acrylic

Fragments of the Berlin Wall, in acrylic

Museum Artifact

Fragments of the Berlin Wall, in acrylic

Musicians of Berlin's acclaimed Trio Appolon (Matthias Glander, Felix Schwartz and Wolfgang Kühnl) brought these fragments of the Wall encased in acrylic as tokens to exchange in New York City while performing with Berlin's Staatskapelle Orchestra at a Mahler Festival in Carnegie Hall. In 20 years the Wall has cycled from a repressive barrier to a symbol that promotes the culture of Berlin. The gold stamped words on the acrylic read, "A piece of German history."
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Gift of Matthias Glander, Felix Schwartz and Wolfgang Kühnl (Photo by Alex Jamison)

silver Zippo lighter

Zippo cigarette lighter

Museum Artifact

Zippo cigarette lighter

This silver Zippo lighter is etched with an outline of the broken Berlin Wall and two German flags celebrating unity. The symbolism commemorates Germany's historic events and transforms an ordinary lighter into a popular culture souvenir of a historic period.
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Collections of the National Museum of American Diplomacy (Photo by Alex Jamison)

A view of the new U.S. embassy in Berlin, Germany

U.S. Embassy, Berlin

Photograph

U.S. Embassy, Berlin

A view of the new U.S. embassy, left side, at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany. The embassy opened in 2008.
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AP

THE END