AJC Welcomes 20th Anniversary of German Unification

Oct 02, 2010, 18:12 ET from American Jewish Committee

NEW YORK, Oct. 2 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --  AJC welcomes the 20th anniversary of Germany unification on October 3. To mark the occasion, AJC Executive Director David Harris issued the following statement:

"We remember as if it were yesterday the remarkable events of 1989 when the Berlin Wall came tumbling down and awakened the possibility of unification. We recall with admiration those who made this previously unimaginable event possible. They were individuals of extraordinary courage, conviction and commitment.

"For many Germans, this was a dream come true. It was abetted by the towering statesmanship of German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and U.S. President George H.W. Bush, following on the heels of President Ronald Reagan who had called for the tearing down of the Berlin Wall. But the prospect of a unified Germany, with its enhanced size and clout, caused profound concern in some European capitals and throughout much of the Jewish world. At AJC, it set off a soul-searching discussion that ended with a unanimous AJC Board decision to support German unification. In doing so, we became the first Jewish organization in the world, as acknowledged by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, to take this far-reaching position.

"Why did we step forward? Because we had also been the first Jewish group to engage with the Federal Republic of Germany after its establishment in 1949. In the course of the ensuing four decades, we had come to have confidence in Germany's solid democratic foundation, its reliability as an American ally and NATO member, its dedication to European integration, and its no-holds-barred confrontation with its own past. Moreover, we grasped the unprecedented opportunity that unification presented for the 17 million residents of the former East Germany, whose human rights had been systematically suppressed under Communist rule. And we knew that the end of East Germany would mean the end of an anti-American, anti-Israel regime that had been a key pillar in the Warsaw Pact alliance.

"Unification has not always been an easy, problem-free process for Germany. For many East Germans, for instance, the transition has had its share of psychological and professional challenges. For the German economy, the cost of bringing East Germany up to the West German standard has been staggering. But there can be no question that unification was right for Germany, right for Europe, and right for the world. An enlarged, democratic Germany continues to inspire confidence and has proved the skeptics wrong. At AJC, we are proud of the position we took in 1990, and we are pleased to add our voice of congratulations to the Federal Republic of Germany on this auspicious anniversary."


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SOURCE American Jewish Committee