II. Speech by Walter Scheel, Foreign Minister of the Federal Republic of Germany, on the occasion of the acceptance of the Federal Republic of Germany into the United Nations, made before the General Assembly on September 19, 1973
Forty-seven years ago, almost to the day, Germany entered the League of Nations. Eight years had passed since the end of the First World War. German Foreign Minister Gustav Stresemann was welcomed by his French colleague Aristide Briand with the following words: “Gone by is the series of painful and bloody encounters with which all sides of history have been soiled [ . . . ] no more war, no bloody and brutal solutions to our disputes. [ . . . ]” Stresemann answered that “[ . . . ] If we wish to elevate ourselves, then we cannot accomplish this by fighting against each other, but instead only through cooperation with each other [ . . . ].”
A dialogue of expectations and hopes, supported by the best of goodwill. A fleeting chance for peace. And only a few years later it was lost.
This time, twenty-eight years have passed since the end of the war. Now there are two German foreign ministers standing before the delegates. This is a display of the fate of my people: cause and victim of the war, divided not of their own doing, now living in two countries and uncertain of a common future.
Do you understand why we hesitated to take the step of joining the United Nations? It is painful to look the political reality of the division of one’s own country in the eye. We feared that such a step could give the impression that we had become resigned, as if we had given up all hope for unification. We were worried that the barriers between the people in Germany might grow still higher through the membership of both parts of Germany.
Now we have a new point of departure. The two states in Germany have regulated their relations with each other in the Basic Treaty of December 21, 1972. For Berlin, the Four-Power Agreement was concluded with the participation of both states in Germany on September 3, 1971. This agreement paved the way not least for Berlin (West) to share in our participation in the United Nations.
Our goal is clear: the Federal Republic of Germany will continue to work toward peace in Europe, in which the German people will regain their unity in free self-determination.
[ . . . ]
Source: Bulletin (Press and Information Office of the Federal Republic), no. 114 (September 20, 1973), reprinted in Europa-Archiv, Series 24/1973, pp. D 673-D 674.
Translation: Allison Brown