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Chancellor Kohl Justifies the Creation of a German Historical Museum as a Contribution to National Unity (October 28, 1987)

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In addition, the people of Germany are suffering from separation – by a wall that stands in their way and repels them. They want to come together because they belong together. I believe that the development of Germany policies over the last few years has impressively confirmed that the consciousness of the unity of the nation in both parts of Germany is not only unbroken, but has even grown stronger in recent weeks and months. [ . . . ]

Despite the necessity of working together with the states of the Warsaw Pact to serve the mutual benefits and good of the people, we must constantly be aware of the fact that the dividing line that presently runs through Europe is the dividing line between democracy and dictatorship, between freedom and non-freedom [Unfreiheit]. There is no middle road for us Germans to take; that is one of the decisive lessons of our history. Konrad Adenauer aptly described the conclusions that can be drawn from this. When the Federal Republic of Germany became a sovereign state on May 5, 1955, he declared: “There is only one place for us in the world, on the side of the free peoples. Our goal: a free and united Germany in a free and united Europe.” [ . . . ]

The people in central Europe have certainly been influenced in a special way by their shared historical and cultural roots. The German Historical Museum will clearly demonstrate this to us. But central Europe’s historical common ground was not able to stop the political division of Europe. The actual cause of this division is that the people on the other side of the dividing line that runs through Europe are being deprived of freedom and self-determination. Freedom remains the central aspect of the German Question, which will always also be a “European Question.” It remains the prerequisite for overcoming the opposition between East and West.

This opposition can be overcome only by a lasting, comprehensive, European peace order, in which human rights for all the peoples of Europe are realized, undivided and undiminished. Now as before, Berlin remains the focal point of the open German Question. Policies committed to freedom must therefore always be put in the service of this European metropolis of freedom.

[ . . . ]

The German Historical Museum, which is being established near the Berlin Wall – albeit not in its shadow – will deepen the consciousness of the sense of belonging together that exists among the people in divided Germany. We know that all Germans have a single, common history. From this knowledge comes the confidence that the future of Germany and Europe will be a common future – a future in which Berlin is a bridge between free people.

Source: Helmut Kohl, “‘Berlin bleibt Brennpunkt der Deutschen Frage’” [“‘Berlin Remains the Focal Point of the German Question’”], Süddeutsche Zeitung, October 29, 1987.

Translation: Allison Brown

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