Unity in diversity: the fall of the Berlin Wall 30 years ago and German identity

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Excursion to the former residence of the west-german chancellors on the occasion of the celebrations of German unity and the fall of the Berlin Wall on October 8, 2019 as part of the BAMF-funded integration project “My New Life in Germany – New Home Bonn / Rhein-Sieg”.

More than 20 people working in the area of integration work, migrants and interested people went together with the the AEF – Spanische Weiterbildungsakademiee.V. to the former residence of the west-german chancellor on the occasion of the celebrations of German unity and the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The AEF has decided to visit this historic site with immigrants in order to remind and recall the highly identity-creating significance of the division and unity of the german states.

Already on our way to the former residence, the political and social significance of the city of Bonn becomes highly apparent through a vast variety of monuments and resident political institutions and non-governmental organizations. Today, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) is located in the premises of the former Federal Chancellery and prevents a clear view on the chancellor bungalow, residence of the West German Chancellors. Participants of our field trip from countries such as Pakistan, Russia, Morocco, Italy or Turkey are very surprised at the first sight of the Chancellor’s bungalow, because they imagined to see a pompous building. Instead, they see a ground-level, very Spartan furnished and far from pompous-looking building.

During the guided tour through the official part of the building, where Mikhail Gorbachev and Lady Diana were already meeting with the Chancellors, as well as through the non-public part where the chancellors lived with their families, the building impresses with its simplicity and modesty. “In the post-war period, people did not want to give the impression that the Chancellors lived here in the lap of luxury, while the people outside were struggling with the consequences of the devastating war. Rather, the chancellor’s residence should resemble a normal residential building, far away from luxury and abundance, “says the visitor group during the tour.

At this location, the so-called chancellor of the german unity Helmut Kohl paved the way for a reunification of the German states and invited important personalities of the Soviet Union to Bonn for talks. None of our participants doubts that integration is a two-sided process. However, the immense importance of the knowledge of this chapter of German history is the absolute basis for understanding how the identity of the Germans has been constructed and developed until today. “I found it very interesting to see how much the idea of democracy in this building becomes apparent: the facades are mostly made up of floor-to-ceiling windows that allow you to look unhindered into the building. This avoids the impression that people are working behind closed doors “, a participant summarizes in the aftermath, as we get together in purpose of common reflection and exchange of the collected impressions in the Café in the museum “Haus der Geschichte”.

As part of the integration project “My New Life in Germany – New Home Bonn / Rhein-Sieg” further excursions and informative events, as well as workshops are planned. If you are interested in participating or cooperation, feel free to contact us!

AEF Troisdorf
Salvatore Mancuso
Tel: 02241 261 56 12
Mail: mancuso@aef-bonn.de

AEF Bonn
Artur Kalnins
Mail: kalnins@aef-bonn.de

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