German Unity Day
Yesterday, I did attend the German Unity Day at Le Royal Hotel, invited by the Ambassador, Dr. Wolfgang Moser. Around 3oo guests, local and international, were present. From the Cambodian side, H.E. Sun Chanthol, Senior Minister, represented the Royal Government of Cambodia and delivered an official speech to congratulate the German people for their 22nd anniversary. It is also time for me to meet friends, colleagues, new people; both Germans and Cambodians and to build network.
Happy Anniversary of the German Unity Day, 3rd October 1990-2012, to all German people! As one of the eye-witnesses during the transition period in East-Germany, in 1989-90, I admire how Germans deal with the past and privatization of state companies. On behalf of all Cambodians, I would like to say thank you for your contribution to bring Cambodia back to the “road of democracy, rule of (good) law, human rights, market economy etc…..”. However, there are still a lot of things to do…here in our country.
The change in Germany, which led to the fall of the famous Berliner Wall (built in 1961) in November 1989, was started in the Nikolai Church, in the city center of Leipzig. The famous Montag Demo (Monday demonstration) brought down the East German’s regime. The slogan of the demonstration was: “Wir sind das Volk” (we are the people). The demonstration started in Leipzig, but later it sprung up in other major cities as well. It created huge pressure for the rulers. The leaders of the former Socialist Unity Party (SED), the East German communist party, were divided on how to deal with the increasing demonstrations. It was also 40th anniversary of the foundation of the German Democratic Republic (GDR). Mr. Gorbachov, former Secretary General of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, was present in East Berlin and urged the SED leaders to embrace change and open the way to reform. He said one famous phrase: “…who come too late, those will be punished…” (Wer zu spaet kommt, den bestraft das Leben). Hungary was also opening its border to Austria, which gave opportunity for East Germans to flee the country in to West Germany. Some East Germans stormed the Embassy of the Federal Republic Germany in Prague and requested asylum.
At one evening, armed polices, soldiers were sent to the streets in Leipzig to prepare possible crackdown on demonstrators. As students, we were told to leave class earlier and to head back to the students’ hostel, at about 3pm. We were expecting the worst, since the communist leaders could follow the violent and brutal crackdown, in China, in June 1989. Thousands of peaceful demonstrators, mostly students were killed in Tienanmen Square in Beijing. But, after internal fighting and secret negotiations, the demonstration went smoothly and no killing occurred. New leaders replaced the old leaders and promised reform and opened the Berlin Wall, after 28 years, for the first time. East Germans were FREE then. The real unity came but one year later, after the division for more than 40 years.