4 Oct 2011

Unity Day celebrations in Germany

11:51 am on 4 October 2011

Germany has marked its 21st reunification anniversary in the former capital of Bonn.

Deutsche Welle Radio reports Chancellor Angela Merkel and Christian Wulff were among those who celebrated the event in the former parliament building on Monday.

Federal Constitutional Court president Andreas Vosskuhle said Germany's identity had been "closely linked from the beginning with the commitment to Europe.''

He lauded East Germans in particular for uniting Germany.

''It was the East Germans who chanted 'we are the people; we are one people' and put an end to dictatorship in Germany and elsewhere in Europe,'' Vosskuhle said.

''This moment has been burned into our collective memory. It not only united our country, but filled a void in our own history.''

Deutsche Welle Radio reports this year's Unity Day celebrations also coincided with the 65th anniversary of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, which was formed after World War II and the division of Germany.

Buy-back considered

Declassified documents from the CIA and the US State Department reveal that former West German Chancellor Ludwig Erhard wanted to buy East Germany from the Soviet Union, according to an article in Der Spiegel weekly news magazine.

A member of Erhard's staff at the time told the magazine the former chancellor considered paying $US2 billion per year for 10 years.

Mr Erhard, a former finance minister, argued that the Soviet government was struggling economically and would be open to a trading East Germany for hard currency.

But the State Department considered that the plan was "unrealistic."