On Saturday is October 3, the National holiday in Germany. If you’re looking for an American equivalent this would be July 4 only without all the festivity around it. Yes, you read right. If you ask Germans what they will do on Oct. 3 the majority will say something like “Nothing special. Use the free day to sleep out or do something that has ben pending for a long time.” Of course, there is a official celebration taking place in Berlin, where the chancellor (Angela Merkel at the moment) helds a speech etc., but in general this spirit of celebration doesn’t spread through the country. You ask me why? Well, I think there are several reasons.
For one thing, the date is absolutely inconvenient. Most of the time the beginning of October means also a turn of the weather from sunshine to rainy storms – so there goes your barbecue. It almost seems like a curse that on Oct. 3 there will certainly be rain.
Another reason is the difficult relationship between western Germany and the eastern part. Though we have been united for 20 years now, many people don’t regard this as a big event to celebrate, even less this year with the effects of the economic crisis hitting the country ever so fierce. I would say that there are also still a lot of negative sentiments between the people. Looking at some regions in eastern Germany you can understand why people feel left alone, the infrastructure is badly developed having been only scarcely renewed after the unification, the unemployment rates are much higher than in most of Western Germany thus catalyzing discontentment with the people, that not enough is done. People in West, however, see the extra taxes (the Soli) and extra payments from the federal states’ governments and ask if the money is used wisely.
In the end it comes, that we even don’t know each other. It’s like an invisible wall is still dividing Germany in some points. We don’t know very much about each others history, the social background, how life was during the separation. Of course, there are movies trying to tell the story, but do you really get a feeling watching a 90 minute film that is hacked into pieces by advertisement brakes? I doubt it.
I personally don’t have a fixed opinion. I think, it’s difficult to unify two peoples that have been separated for so long and I also think that it will take another 20 years to totally overcome the obstacles of division. I’ve been to the eastern part of Germany several times and it was always Germany. People were talking the same language, they had the same problems and sorrows, some were nice, some weren’t. Perhaps we should just stop complaining and use our potential and strength, working together and celebrating together. October 3 would be a great start, wouldn’t it? And if it rains? Well, what are sports halls there for? We’ll just go indoors.
And what are you doing this weekend? Tell me.