German Unity Day
It is a legal holiday in this country and as a result, many banks and government buildings are often closed on this day, as are most businesses, although some of the ones near transportation hubs often remain open to the public.
When Germany was defeated following World War II, it was divided into four segments by the Allies. These military-controlled sections were held by the United States, Russia, France, and the United Kingdom.
On May 23rd, 1949, the segments controlled by the U.S., France, and the U.K. became the Federal Republic of Germany. The segment that was controlled by the Soviet Union then became the German Democratic Republic on October 7th, 1949. In effect, Germany had become two separate countries.
These two distinct countries each operated under their own economic and political systems, as well as their own currency. Citizens of the German Democratic Republic were often subject to intimidation and surveillance, as well as political repression by the East German Police—also known as the Staatssicherheit.
This would lead to unrest in East Germany that would eventually lead to the Monday Demonstrations—protests that called for the opening of the borders and true political reform. Two months after the start of these demonstrations, on November 9th, 1989, checkpoints between East and West Germany were opened and citizens were allowed to travel freely between them.
This date marked the fall of the Berlin Wall. Over the next few weeks from this date, the physical wall that separated the two parts of Berlin was slowly chipped away by citizens—which created many holes and border crossing openings in the wall. Official demolition of the wall started on June 13th, 1990 when the East German military began taking down the wall. In August 1990, the Treaty of Unification was signed by both East and West Germany. On October 3rd, 1990, it became official.
Customs, Traditions and Celebrations
Not only do most people in Germany get the day off for German Unity Day, but there are also a number of events that happen on this day. Some of the ways German Unity Day is celebrated is with concerts, fireworks, and speeches by politicians.
German Unity Day is also a time when many mosques are open to non-Muslim Germans. This is to stimulate contact between Muslims and non-Muslims and therefore, sow understanding between the separate cultures. The opening of the mosques also serves to show how important the Muslim faith was to Germany during its formation.