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Oct 5 2021

Foundations of Unity

On 1 October 2021, Headquarters Multinational Corps Northeast (HQ MNC NE) held an official event to celebrate the 31th anniversary of German reunification. The ceremony was attended by the Corps' staff members and invited guests, including Professor Dr Sönke Neitzel, a German historian and professor of military history at the University of Potsdam.

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On 1 October, Multinational Corps Northeast and its 25 member nations celebrated the Day of German Unity. The nations from the east, west, north and south of the Alliance's territory give a face to the Corps on NATO's north-eastern flank – striving in unity towards a common goal.

No Multinational Corps Northeast without German reunification

"This fact should fill us with gratitude and humility. It is a privilege which has its origin in the historic events of the years 1989 and 1990. Without German reunification and the collapse of the Iron Curtain that followed there would be no Multinational Corps Northeast – we would not be sitting here today," said Colonel (GS) Raoul Gruninger, the Senior German Officer in Szczecin.

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The Berlin Wall – possibly the most infamous symbol of the Cold War

In order to understand and appreciate 3 October 1990 one must go back to 13 August 1961.

That day saw the building of a wall around West Berlin and the erection of a blood-stained border right through Germany.

For nearly three decades after its erection in 1961, the wall, as it was colloquially called, was the place where the geopolitical separation of Europe and Germany manifested itself. It was possibly the Cold War's most infamous symbol.

With an overall length of 1378 km, it formed the border for the competition between two power blocs whose rivalry was characterized by mutual distrust, demonstrations of power and a hitherto unprecedented arms race.

"The fall of the wall 30 years ago is one of the finest moments in German history," said Gruninger. "No other event in the past decades has caused such joy and emotions and saw people embrace random strangers to celebrate their regained freedom."

The collapse of the wall opened the door to German reunification and European integration.

This notion served as the starting point for the ceremonial address delivered by Professor Sönke Neitzel, historian and professor of military history / cultural history of violence at the University of Potsdam.

The inherent challenges of contemporary military conflicts

Starting form the role of a reunited Germany within European Security and Defence Policy, Professor Neitzel took the participants on an interesting journey to highlight the challenges of contemporary military conflicts. "German reunification nurtured the hope for an end of history – the victorious emergence of liberal democracy as a global role model and a massive reduction in military conflicts. It turned out to be an illusion," said Professor Neitzel. The soldiers among the listeners could readily concur with this observation.

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Story by Multinational Corps Northeast Public Affairs Office

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Waleriana Łukasińskiego 33
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Poland